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Safety Training and Documentation

The Office of Research Safety assists Principal Investigators by providing general lab safety training to meet basic regulatory requirements and inform researchers of UTHSC-specific work practices. However, this does not fully meet the safety training needs of the research community. Due to the wide variety of hazardous biological, chemical, or radiologic agents handled in labs on campus it is essential that Principal Investigators and lab supervisors provide safety information and training on the specific hazards encountered and procedures performed in their labs.

This training must be provided at the time researchers are informed of a new procedure or changes are made in a procedure that they will perform. Guidance is provided below to help senior lab staff meet requirements for both training content and documentation.

Safety Training

Ideally, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) detail the steps necessary to perform specific procedures involving hazardous materials. These SOPs should contain information about the required personal protective equipment to be worn, engineering controls to be used (e.g. fumehood, splash shield, etc.) and work practices to be followed (e.g. do not work alone). Information contained in SOPs should be supplemented with training that includes information on how to perform a procedure safety. This training can be presented in any manner or using any medium that you consider to be both effective and expedient. 

The content of any safety training should, at a minimum, follow this general algorithm:

  • Hazard Identification: Articulate to the employee the health or physical hazards presented by the materials that they will be handling.
  • Risk Mitigation: Identify for the employee the necessary engineering controls, work practices, and PPE necessary to minimize the risk associated with handling hazardous materials. Basically, this should describe what the researcher needs to do to work safely.
  • Exposure Response: In the event the employee is exposed they must be aware of how to recognize the signs or symptoms of exposure. They must also understand how to respond to a potential exposure. Response actions should include both first aid, reporting of the incident, and the need for follow-up medical care if necessary.

This training should be documented to protect the liability of both the Principal Investigator and the institution. This documentation should briefly state who was trained, when the training took place and provide a general description of the training content.

To assist PIs at UTHSC in their efforts to track and document employee training, the Office of Research Safety has created a recommended Research Lab Training Record template that be modified to meet the unique needs of each investigator. The template lists the annual mandatory safety training courses required for all laboratory research employees. It also lists several of the hazards commonly encountered in labs for which training should be provided. This is not an exhaustive list; topics can be added or deleted to meet the unique needs of each laboratory. For example, if a given lab does not handle DEA controlled substances or human blood and body fluids these trainings can be removed from the record.

If you have any questions about safety training or documentation, please call the Office of Research Safety of email

Last Published: Mar 12, 2021