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Responsibility for Safety

Responsibility of the Research Directors and Instructors

The first responsibility for laboratory safety lies with the senior faculty members in charge of the laboratories. Sometimes lack of proper equipment, or other hazards beyond their control may play a part in safety problems. However, it is their duty to evaluate the safety hazards connected with any experiment and to avoid conducting any experiment which cannot be carried out without excessive risk to personnel or property. It is also the responsibility of the senior faculty members to be certain that every person working in their laboratories is aware of the safety hazards and safety regulations in the laboratory. It is highly recommended that the person in charge of a laboratory have safety rules posted prominently in convenient locations for everyone to read. Research directors and teaching laboratory directors have the primary responsibility for enforcing regulations on solvent storage, waste solvent disposal, smoking, personal protective equipment, etc., and for reporting problems to the Chemistry Department Safety Coordinator. Research directors should recognize that graduate students and postdoctoral students coming into the Department may have enormously different backgrounds and attitudes towards good laboratory practice and that it is part of the advisor's responsibilities both in laboratory courses and as research directors to provide instruction where it is necessary either in techniques or in attitudes which are appropriate for the training of professional scientists. It is expected that research directors appoint at least one member of their research groups as a safety officer who will be responsible for maintaining safety devices, attending all monthly safety meetings and checking day-to-day laboratory safety practices. Research directors should have cards fastened to the outside of the door of each laboratory and chemical storage area under his/her supervision which states:

  1. The name of the senior faculty member or person in charge of that laboratory who should be notified in case of emergency.
  2. The phone number (home and business) of that person.
  3. Special Precautions (if necessary)
    • for workers in that laboratory
    • for firemen or other emergency personnel

Individual Responsibilities

Before any keys to the French Family Science Center can be issued to a new member of the chemistry department, s/he must participate in online safety training and pass the appropriate online quiz(zes). Persons engaged in the use of chemicals and apparatus inside the Department (undergraduate students, graduate student researchers, postdoctoral fellows, etc.) are responsible for protecting themselves and their neighbors. The individual student or researcher has to take the initiative in protecting himself or herself from hazards which have been explained to them, e.g. they should protect their own eyes by wearing safety glasses. Their next responsibility is to their neighbors. Back to top

University and OESO Responsibilities

See http://www.safety.duke.edu for more information on OESO Laboratory Safety.

  • Proper disposal of chemical and radioactive waste http://www.safety.duke.edu/environmental-programs
  • Proper maintenance and distribution of fire extinguishers and fire alarm testing and maintenance of equipment http://www.safety.duke.edu/fire-life-safety
  • Inspection of emergency showers and eye wash equipment
  • Ready availability of personal protective equipment
  • Online safety training is required for all personnel working in a lab.  Access to the training modules is gained by accessing the OESO home page and click on "Training & Reports" and then on "Online Training".  You will log in using your NetID and password.

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Safety Coordinator Responsibilities

  • planning and presentation of Departmental safety meetings
  • keeping alert to new hazards which develop in the use of chemicals and informing research directors of these hazards
  • planning emergency drills
  • maintaining a regular inspection procedure so that at least once each year all research and teaching laboratories have been inspected with reports submitted to the research directors

In addition, the Safety Coordinator is available to help members of the Department with individual safety problems. Potential safety problems should be discussed with the safety coordinator. All accidents or near-misses should be reported. This may help to prevent future accidents.  See Duke's Occupational & Environmental Safety Office page for information on Chemical Hygiene Plans, SOP information, PHS list and MSDS information.  

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