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Northwestern University Office for Research

Northwestern University

Office for Research

Creating New Knowledge
Creating New Knowledge

Safety Enforcement Policy

Last Updated: May 21, 2007

The Office for Research Safety (ORS) has developed an effective plan to ensure that the University is in compliance with local, state, and federal safety regulations; such compliance is essential to maintain Northwestern University's eligibility for federal funding. Compliance with University safety policies and procedures is required not only because of the need to conform to external regulations, but also because the University is committed to providing a safe workplace for faculty, staff, students, and visitors.

This Safety Enforcement Policy was developed so that risks from failure to comply with the University's safety policies and procedures may be effectively controlled. In the absence of such a policy, the University and individual PIs may be subject to actions by outside agencies such as area fire departments, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Such policies are already in place with respect to the use of sources of ionizing radiation, controlled substances, and animals. Under this policy:

  • Every investigator who controls a laboratory, or who otherwise must file a registration or application with ORS for the use of radioactive materials, recombinant DNA research, class 3b or 4 lasers, or exempt select agent toxins, must complete and submit data in the Integrated Safety Information System (ISIS) as directed by ORS. Department chairs, center directors, and directors of other facilities (or individuals designated by them) must complete and submit data in ISIS as directed by ORS for each teaching laboratory or common research facility under their control.
  • Laboratory activities or processes that pose an immediate danger to life and health may be terminated immediately by the Executive Director, Office for Research Safety, the Radiation Safety Officer, the Laser Safety Officer, the Biological Safety Officer, the Assistant Director for Operations, the Responsible Official for Select Agent Registration, or other person designated by the Vice President for Research.
  • Upon recommendation of the Chemical and Biological Safety Committee and notification of the investigator and his/her immediate line manager, the laboratory of any investigator found not to be in compliance with University safety policies and procedures may be closed by the Vice President for Research until such time as compliance is confirmed.
  • Upon the recommendation of the Chemical and Biological Safety Committee, personnel representing the Vice President for Research may enter the laboratory of an investigator who has been found not to be in compliance with University safety policies and procedures to remove any hazardous materials.
  • Flagrant disregard of University safety policies and procedures may result in the permanent loss of laboratory privileges.
  • Safety is a line management responsibility. Department chairs, center directors, and directors of other facilities are responsible for ensuring that investigators are in compliance with University safety policies and procedures. Departments will be held liable for the financial cost of removing hazardous materials and for any damages caused by failure to comply with safety policies and procedures.

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