Employee Safety Orientation: Director's Message

This safety information has been prepared to introduce University of Florida (UF) employees to the policies and procedures used to maintain a safe and healthy work environment at UF. Each employee’s immediate supervisor has provided additional job specific safety training and information about the facility in which they will be working. Employees are encouraged to ask questions when unsure of safety policies and procedures.

By authority delegated from the University President, the Vice-President for Business Affairs is responsible for the safety of all University facilities. Under this authority, policies are developed to provide a safe teaching, research, service, housing and recreational environment.

The Division of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) was established in 1974 and given the responsibility for the management of all safety practices and the administration of the program. The mission of the EH&S division is to support and advance the teaching, learning and research activities of the University through promotion of a safe and healthy campus environment by providing and coordinating programs and services that minimize safety, health, environmental and regulatory risks to the University of Florida community in a manner consistent with responsible fiscal and environmental stewardship.

Safety in the Workplace

The prevention of accidents is a goal at all levels within the University. It is important that each supervisor makes the safety of all employees an integral part of his or her regular management function. It is equally important that each employee accepts and follows established safety regulations and procedures.

There are two reasons why accidents happen: UNSAFE ACTS and UNSAFE CONDITIONS. An unsafe act is when someone performs an action that increases their risk and exposure to a potential hazard such as removing a machine guard, standing on the top of a stepladder, not using proper personal protective equipment or performing a hazardous task for which they are not trained. An unsafe condition is a situation where the workplace hazards have not been eliminated or controlled. These include conditions such as slippery floors, improper lighting and unguarded machinery hazards.

Safety is a cooperative action requiring everyone’s assistance. If an employee is injured, prompt action must be taken to see that the employee receives adequate treatment and the accident is investigated to correct any hazards that exist. Every injury or illness that occurs on the job, even a slight cut or strain, must be reported to the employee’s supervisor as soon as possible. Management will conduct an accident investigation for all reported injuries and illnesses and complete the required Worker’s Compensation report of injury- First Report of Injury. The purpose of the investigation is to determine the root cause of the accident to prevent it from happening again. It is not meant as a blaming exercise. Some accidents are caused due to human error and the accident investigation may reveal that additional training or understanding of the procedures needs to be conducted.

Employee Report of Injury

    1. Contact Worker’s Compensation Office and complete the First Report of Injury
    2. Your supervisor will complete an Injury and Incident Report Form

Employees are required to report the following to their supervisor as soon as possible:

  • all work injuries and illnesses
  • all unsafe acts or conditions
  • all property damage or near-miss accidents

Only authorized and trained employees may perform the following:

  • operate or repair machinery and equipment
  • work on or near exposed energized electrical parts
  • enter a confined space
  • use or dispense chemicals
  • use forklifts, tractors, or other vehicles
  • use respirators

All employees are required to follow the guidelines below:

  • know the location of all fire and emergency exits
  • keep exits, aisles, fire extinguishers and emergency and safety equipment clear of all obstacles
  • use seatbelts in all vehicles
  • follow all safety rules and practices

Environmental Health & Safety Services

Accident/Incident   Investigations Hazard Communication
Automatic   External Defibrillator (AED) Quality Assurance Program Hazardous Materials Management
Air   Monitoring/Indoor Air Quality Hearing Conservation
Animal   Contact Program Indoor Air Quality Testing
Asbestos   Management Laboratory Safety Inspections
Biosafety Lock-out/Tag-out Program
Bloodborne   Pathogens information New Researcher Training
Building   Emergency Coordinator Program Occupational Safety Program   (Industrial Hygiene)
Confined   Space Entry Program Occupational Medicine Program
Emergency   Management Permits
Emergency   Notifications (UF Alert) Pest Control
Environmental   Issues Management Radiation Control
Ergonomic   Evaluations Radiological Services
Fall   Protection Training Respiratory Protection Program
Fire   Safety Safety Program Resources


Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber, and historically, it has been used in thousands of distinct building materials. Due to the potential health effects of an asbestos exposure, Federal regulations and University policy require that asbestos-containing materials be identified prior to any demolition, renovation, repair, maintenance or other activities that could disturb the materials. Building occupants must not disturb any building material without first determining whether or not asbestos is present. EH&S is responsible for asbestos management in all University facilities.

  • Asbestos awareness training is required for all building services and maintenance staff who have the potential to come into contact with an asbestos-containing material during their assigned job responsibilities.

Biological Safety Program

The Biological Safety Office at UF is responsible for ensuring the safe handling, storage and disposal of biological agents. This includes ensuring compliance with local, state, federal and international biosafety regulations.

Activities include the following:

  • registration and monitoring of projects involving select agents
  • infectious diseases, plant and animal pathogens
  • rDNA and human gene therapy
  • training of research staff regarding blood borne pathogens
  • shipping regulations
  • medical monitoring requirements
  • autoclave use
  • waste disposal

The Principal Investigator has the ultimate responsibility for assuring the preceding in his/her laboratory.

Fall Protection

Employees who must work from elevations greater than 6 feet must use fall protection.  This fall protection may be in the form of guardrails, fall restraint or a personal fall arrest system. Training must be provided prior to using any personal fall arrest system.

Hazard Communication

To avoid injury and/or property damage, persons who handle chemicals in any area of the University must understand the hazardous properties of the chemicals they will be using.  If an individual is assigned a role that involves the use of non-laboratory chemicals, the area is responsible for scheduling/providing the required training on the hazards of, and the precautions to use with, the chemicals prior to use.  Additionally, every department is required to maintain copies of the material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for every non-laboratory chemical in the workplace. Individuals are also required to know how to properly dispose of the chemicals.

All employees who use hazardous chemicals will be required to demonstrate the following:

  • know how to access SDSs
  • understand and use SDSs
  • can safely use the chemicals including proper protective equipment
  • can initiate necessary emergency procedures

General safety precautions when working with chemicals include the following:

  • keep the work area clean and orderly
  • use proper safety equipment
  • ensure chemical containers are labeled
  • store incompatible chemicals separately
  • substitute less toxic materials when possible
  • limit the volume of chemicals to the minimum needed

Hazardous Material Management

All chemical waste, used oil, and universal waste at the University is managed by EH&S. This includes the off-campus Research and Education Centers and teaching centers. Research and maintenance staff and students are responsible for identifying hazardous waste they generate, proper accumulation of that waste and contacting EH&S Hazardous Material Management for disposal.

EH&S Hazardous Material Management provides training on a regular basis for all users of hazardous chemicals. All persons generating hazardous waste must complete this training.

EH&S Hazardous Material Management provides labels and containers for most hazardous wastes.

  • Container/Label Request
    (352) 392-8400

EH&S collects the waste from the laboratory or shop area. Laboratory staff may not transport hazardous waste from the generation area. Pickup requests are submitted by electronic form.

  • Questions / Assistance
    (352) 392-8400

Health Assessments

There are several job duties at the University of Florida that trigger the need for a health assessment before an employee begins work.

For example, general physical job duties require a physical exam; patient contact requires a review of a comprehensive health history and immunization records. These are but two of the almost 20 job duties covered.

Whether the health assessment requires an actual physical exam or a records review, the preplacement health assessment result status must be established before a new hire reports for the first day of work. For some job duties, there is an additional periodic health assessment required throughout employment at UF. For example, a risk assessment for animal contact is required initially as well as every three years thereafter.

UF health assessments are a part of the University’s Occupational Medicine Program that is managed jointly by Environmental Health & Safety and the Student Health Care Center (SHCC). The SHCC uses the identified job duty to conduct the required health assessment and establishes a result status intended to minimize health risks to the individual. All detailed medical records associated with these health assessments are treated as confidential and handled according to federal HIPAA laws and Florida statutes.

UF employees who perform any of the job duties covered under this Occupational Medicine Program are required to follow the established procedures. Once the hire is processed, employees can use their GatorLink and password to view health assessment status records.

  • Health Assessment Status Record
    > myUFL>>My Self Service>FU Health Assessments

Heat Stress

Employees who work in hot environments such as steam tunnels, unairconditioned spaces in the summer, or simply out in the Florida heat and humidity may be at risk for heat related illnesses and injuries.

  • Late each spring EH&S will schedule training sessions for staff to review the risks associated with working in hot environments.

In general, always follow the guidelines below to prevent heat-related illnesses or injuries.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. This amounts to approximately 8 oz. of water every 20 minutes.
  • Stay away from alcohol and caffeine – both of these chemicals can dehydrate the body.
  • Schedule activities to do hard work during the cooler parts of the day.
  • Employees on medication should check with a doctor or pharmacist for increased risk of exposure to heat.
  • Find shade or an air-conditioned space for breaks.
  • Inform the employee supervisor if signs or symptoms of a heat illness develop.

Hearing Conservation

Preventing hearing loss is an important part of the safety and health program at the University. Based on an employee’s noise exposure, participation in the University’s Hearing Conservation Program may be required. The program requires the use of hearing protection, annual audiograms and annual training.

All employees must wear hearing protection while working in posted high noise areas. In general, if you have to shout to be heard over a piece of equipment, it is too noisy and you should be wearing hearing protectors.

All hearing protectors must fit properly and be clean and free from defects. Inspect your hearing protection before each use. If your hearing protection is worn out get it replaced. Remember, you are responsible for your own safety.

Laboratory Safety

Labatory employees with their supervisors are required to review the University’s laboratory safety manual and the Chemical Hygiene Plan Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for laboratory tasks prior working. Once a year, EH&S conducts a laboratory safety survey to ensure all the policies and procedures of the lab safety manual are being followed. The EH&S lab surveyor will also check fume hoods to ensure they are working properly.

All employees are required to adhere to the following basic laboratory rules:

  • Wear safety glasses or goggles at all times when in the lab
  • Wear proper clothing (solid toed-shoes, long pants, etc.) as directed by your PI
  • Wear a lab coat as required
  • Use a glove-compatibility chart to determine the proper gloves to protect yourself
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially when taking gloves off
  • Do not wear gloves outside the lab
  • Do not eat in the working area of the lab or store food where chemicals are kept
  • Dispose of outdated and unused chemicals through EH&S in a timely manner
  • Know the location of the emergency equipment in the lab (emergency eyewash/shower, fire extinguisher, spill kit, first aid kit, etc.)
  • Know and follow emergency procedures for lab and building
  • Store flammables in a rated flammable storage refrigerator or freezer only
  • Use toxic chemicals in the fume hood not on an open bench top
  • Do not modify equipment
  • Do not use extension cords


Employees who work on pieces of equipment with stored energy are required to dissipate or restrain the energy by locking it out prior to servicing the equipment. The lock-out/tag-out program covers the servicing of electrical equipment as well as equipment that may have other stored energy such as springs, elevated components, hydraulic systems, air, gas, steam or water pressure.

  • Training is provided by employee supervisors on the University’s lock-out/tag-out program prior to working on equipment.
  • Employee supervisors distribute the locks and tags necessary to follow the program.
  • DO NOT tamper with locks on equipment that have been locked out. REMEMBER, a co-worker could be in harm’s way if you do.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Supervisors will ensure that all employees have the appropriate PPE, wear it properly, and are effectively trained in its use, care and limitations. Employee supervisors will conduct a hazard assessment of employee job to determine what PPE will be utilized. PPE will be used whenever a hazard cannot be eliminated by other means, such as ventilation for a respiratory hazard. When PPE is required, it will be provided to the employee at no charge.

General safety rules for using PPE are the following:

  • All employees must use assigned PPE
  • PPE must be approved and meet applicable standards
  • PPE will be inspected by the employee prior to use; damaged or worn PPE will not be used
  • PPE will be properly maintained

Pesticide Use

The following content reflects Federal and Florida laws governing pesticide use. In certain instances, a UF/IFAS policy or procedure holds the UF/IFAS employee to a higher standard than that prescribed by law or regulation. The physical presence of UF/IFAS is substantial — Florida’s Land Grant University operates numerous facilities throughout the state. For these reasons, each UF/IFAS employee’s duty includes publicly demonstrating UF/IFAS’s commitment to safety, environmental stewardship, and compliance with pesticide laws and regulations.

UF/IFAS policy requires employees [pesticide handlers, agriculture workers, custodial or grounds crews] with pesticide exposure, restricted use or unrestricted use, to have a license. Employees who wear a respirator while applying pesticides are required to participate in the Respirator Program. Employees who spray outdoors or in unconditioned spaces are required to participated in Heat Stress Training.

Employees who use pesticides are required to use them in accordance with the label.
Employees who use pesticides in the production of agricultural plants on farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses are required to be trained in the components of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) prior to using pesticides. The WPS contains requirements for pesticide safety training, notification of pesticide applications, use of personal protective equipment, restricted-entry intervals after pesticide application, decontamination supplies, and emergency medical assistance.

All users of Toxicity Class I, II, or III pesticides, (oral or dermal LD50 of less than 2200 mg/kg as indicated on MSDS), shall participate in the Medical Monitoring Program for Pesticide Users. “Use” is defined as mixing, loading or applying pesticides with a frequency of more than 4 days per month and a volume of more than one pint (16 fl. oz.) of mixed solution or one pound of dry material at any single use. Periodic blood tests [blood tests measure liver function and cholinesterase levels] to monitor exposure may be required of employees who spray toxicity Class I, II or III pesticides more than 4 days per month.

Respirator Protection Program

In certain circumstances, an employee may be required to use a respirator to perform their job duties. Regardless of the reason for use, or the type of respirator used, employees using a respirator are required to receive approval from EH&S. All employees using respirators must be included in the University’s Respiratory Protection Program. Inclusion in the program requires some level of medical clearance and training prior to wearing a respirator. All respirators used must be NIOSH approved.