Safe Use of Potentially Hazardous Materials in the Laboratory
Policy Number: 90
Activities involving the use of biological, chemical or radioactive agents and/or radiation-producing devices
University employees, residents, postdoctoral research fellows, students, trainees and visitors working with biological, chemical or radioactive materials and/or radiation-producing devices
- Date Reviewed:
- April 2023
- Responsible Office:
- Safety, Health, Environmental and Risk Management
- Responsible Executive:
- Vice President of Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
Individuals at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("University") may be exposed to biological, chemical or radioactive agents or radiation producing devices. All activities involving the use of such potentially hazardous agents must be conducted in accordance with the policies and procedures detailed in the University's Biological Safety Manual, the Chemical Hygiene Plan, the Radiation Safety Manual and the Laser Safety Manual. The information contained in the procedural section of this HOOP policy is intended to provide an overview; for specific procedural information, consult the specific manuals. Failure to comply with the policies and procedures detailed in these manuals may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion from the program in which a trainee is enrolled.
A. Approval/Registration of Activities
1. Biological Agents and Recombinant / Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules
Registration or review and approval by the University's Institutional Biosafety Committee is required prior to the initiation of any research activities involving:
Infectious agents designated as requiring biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) or biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) facilities and practices, as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institutes of Health Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories publication; and/or
Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, as described by the National Institutes of Health NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules.
Work with select agents or toxins requires additional controls and registration with either the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the United States Department of Agriculture prior to possession of the agent or toxin as well as prior to initiation of work. Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management (SHERM) can assist with the proper designation of agent categories and appropriate application forms, including select agent registration.
2. Chemical Agents
Activities involving the use of chemicals classified as highly toxic, carcinogenic, pyrophoric, select agent or toxin, poison gas, antineoplastic, pesticide, explosive, or nanoparticles require the submission and approval of an application to the University's Chemical Safety Committee prior to the initiation of work and, if applicable, prior to the possession of the chemical. SHERM is available to assist with the identification of chemicals associated with a particular protocol that may necessitate the submission of an application.
3. Radioactive materials and radiation-producing devices
Activities involving the use of radioactive materials or radiation-producing devices require the submission and approval of an application to the Radiation Safety Committee prior to the possession of the radioactive materials or device as well as prior to initiation of work. Before a principal investigator may acquire any quantity of radioactive material or any radiation-producing device, whether by purchase, loan, or gift, an application for its use must be approved by the University’s Radiation Safety Committee. Additional applications are required for human use with radioactive material or with Class 3B and/or Class 4 lasers and for animal use with radioactive material or with Class 3B and/or Class 4 lasers. SHERM is available to assist with the submission of an application. All authorized users of radioactive materials must comply with the conditions of their authorization and of the radioactive materials license of the University. Refer to the Radiation Safety Manual for a list of the responsibilities of an authorized user. All users of x-ray producing devices must comply with the University x-ray device registration, the applicable rules governing the use of the device and the user’s operating and safety procedures. All users of Class 3B and/or Class 4 lasers must comply with the University's laser registration, the applicable laser rules and the user’s standard operating procedures, as approved by the Radiation Safety Committee.
Careful judgment must be used in selecting and implementing safeguards for any proposed activity that involves biological agents, chemical agents, or radioactive materials and radiation-producing devices. Consideration must be given to operations that involve large quantities of such agents, or complex procedures with multiple modalities of hazards and/or having a significant potential for producing aerosols of contamination. When these or similar situations exist, the principal investigator must obtain guidance from SHERM before initiating the proposed activity and must apply for approval by the University's Institutional Biosafety Committee, Chemical Safety Committee, or Radiation Safety Committee as appropriate. The principal investigator must keep informed of the approval requirements established by these committees.
B. Education Requirements
All employees, postdoctoral research fellows, residents, students, trainees, and visitors who work with or who may be potentially exposed to hazardous materials must receive information and training in accordance with HOOP Policy 95 Research Training and as outlined in the applicable safety manuals.
C. Laboratory Practices and Engineering Controls
Safeguards implemented by principal investigators must, at a minimum, strictly adhere to good laboratory practices such as those surveyed for during periodic laboratory surveys. Universal or standard precautions adopted by the University must be adhered to by all personnel who work in University laboratories or clinical settings.
D. Hazardous Waste Disposal
All laboratory workers must dispose of regulated waste in accordance with the University's policies and procedures detailed in the Chemical Hygiene Plan, the Biological Safety Manual and the Radiation Safety Manual. For more information regarding the disposal of hazardous chemical, medical or radioactive waste see HOOP Policy 89 Environmental Management and Hazardous Waste Disposal.
- Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management