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Policy: Safety and Oversight of Students Working with Hazardous Equipment and in Hazardous Environments 

Date: 12/03/09 Policy ID: PROV-007 Status: Final

Policy Type: Executive Vice President & Provost
Contact Office: Environmental Health and Safety
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Provost
Applies To: 

University departments responsible for shops, laboratories or other instructional environments that may contain hazardous equipment or other potential hazards.

Table of Contents:  Policy Statement
  1. Development of SOPs
  2. Training
  3. Signage
  4. Safety Committees
  5. Incidents,Injuries, and Illnesses
Reason for Policy: University departments, faculty, staff, and students should take precautions to minimize hazards and increase safety for persons working on University approved projects in instructional environments. 
Policy Summary: 

This policy provides guidelines for departments, faculty, staff, and students engaged in projects that may pose a threat to health or safety.

Definition of Terms in Statement: 

Hazardous Equipment: Powerful equipment such as but not limited to: high speed cutting blades, drills, lathes, state of the art CNC milling machines and plasma cutters, etc., made available to University students. Note: These types of equipment may have a larger focus within this policy but should not occlude similar considerations for other types used in the learning and research laboratory (e.g., hydraulic pumps, vacuum systems and high pressure gases to list a few).

Instructional environments: Include, but are not limited to, classrooms, laboratories, shops and other on- and off-Grounds facilities where instructional or research activities are conducted.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): A detailed outline of how to perform a function or process in order to be consistent, safe, and follow intended practices.
Policy Statement: 

University departments will develop, implement, and maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to minimize health and safety risks to faculty, staff, and students working in department shops, laboratories, and other instructional environments. These procedures will include provisions for scheduled equipment maintenance as appropriate and follow all applicable University Policies related to health and safety.

It is not the intent of this policy to selectively address what constitutes hazardous equipment since all equipment can have unique and inherent hazards. Appropriate steps need to be put into place to avoid recognizable or foreseeable hazards. This has become significantly important as the University creates hands-on learning projects to enhance the students’ educational experience.

  1. Development of SOPs:
    Working with guidelines provided by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, departments will perform and document initial evaluations that identify potential hazards in shops, laboratories, and instructional environments both on- and off- grounds. Copies of these evaluations should be submitted to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. Once potential hazards have been identified, departments should work with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety to develop SOPs to mitigate identified risks. 

SOPs should include a step-by-step outline detailing how to perform a given function in a consistent and safe manner. SOPS should also specify disciplinary actions that will be initiated if health and safety procedures are not followed. Guidelines for developing SOPs can be provided by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Departments will review SOPs annually and update as appropriate.

Departments are strongly advised to address and discourage students from working alone in instructional environments where accidental exposure to hazardous equipment or processes could result in injuries. SOPs should promote work practices of ‘safety in numbers’ - students working together and with means to summon emergency assistance in the event of significant injury. SOPs should designate competent students to be present and capable of providing safety oversight through his or her skills and knowledge of the project.

  1. Training:
    In consultation with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, departments will develop and provide appropriate health and safety training to faculty, staff, and students who may be exposed to potential hazards. Training will cover established SOPs including the use of personal protective equipment and guards on machinery, account for faculty, staff, and students’ proficiency skills on designated equipment, and include appropriate emergency action plans. Faculty, staff, and students should not work in a potentially hazardous area until after completing safety training. Safety training will be documented and available upon request for inspection by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

    Safety training modules are available on the Environmental Health & Safety website. Eye Safety, Personal Protective Equipment, Safety Awareness and Equipment Safety modules are directed to University students working in shops and hands-on learning environments such as but not limited to: woodworking and machine shops, auto shops, set design and fabrication shops, etc.
  1. Signage:
    Departments will ensure that appropriate signs are posted in areas posing a potential hazard.
  1. Safety Committees:
    Departments should establish safety committees to increase health and safety awareness. Membership should include both supervisors of and participants in a potentially hazardous activity (i.e., faculty, staff and students). Health and safety concerns will be brought to the committee for appropriate corrective measures in consultation with the department.
  1. Incidents, Injuries, and Illnesses:
    After initiating medical treatment if/as appropriate, incidents, injuries and illnesses will be immediately reported to the safety committee and to the department so that prompt action can be taken to resolve related health and safety issues. Refer to the Office of Property & Liability Risk Management website and under FORMS, select Incident Form to document students’ injuries when medical treatment is necessary.
Related Information: 

University Health & Safety Policies contained in the Policy Directory. Search by Policy Category - Safety, Security and Environmental Quality. Relative policies from this site include:

Chemical Safety & Waste Training

Disposal of Regulated (Hazardous) Materials

Electrical Safety Work Practices

Hazardous (Chemical) Waste Collection and Disposal

Lock Out Tag Out for Equipment during Maintenance and Repair

Personal Protective Equipment

University Health & Safety Program

Other Policies:

Authorization of Volunteers in the Workplace

Art Departments’ Studio - Safety Procedures & Instruction Guidelines for Hand and Power Tools

Electrical Safety for Principal Investigators (PIs), Laboratory & Shop Supervisors and Students

Industrial Hygiene (refer to Engineering Controls)

University of Virginia Laboratory Chemical Hygiene Plan

Additional Regulations:

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Code of Federal Regulations 1910 - General Industry Occupational Safety and Health Standards

Virginia Administrative Code 16VAC 25-60-10; Part III Occupational Safety and Health Standards - Section 120 General Industry Standards - 21Sept06.

Policy Background: 
Major Category: Executive Vice President & Provost Policies
Category Cross Reference: 
Next Scheduled Review: 03/07/17
Approved By, Date: Executive Vice President and Provost, 12/03/09
Revision History: Updated 3/7/14.
Supersedes (previous policy):