New EHS updates to lab, shops and studios inspections

July 2021

The Department of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), working closely with the Laboratory and Research Safety Committee (LRSC), develops innovative and responsive programs to enhance university safety. 

We would like to highlight several new and upcoming changes that are intended to further improve safety performance and strengthen the culture of safety across the research and academic enterprise. Many of these changes were initiated based on feedback from lab directors, unit safety committees, and others:

  • Monthly Laboratory Self-Inspections
  • New Reporting Option for Facility Issues
  • New PPE Risk Assessment to Designate Areas Where PPE is Not Required
  • 30 Day Completion Date for Corrected Deficiencies

 

Laboratory Self-Inspections

In an attempt to reduce burden, EHS has developed a new process for labs to conduct their laboratory self-inspection. Rather than completing a long checklist once a year, EHS has created short monthly checklists significantly reducing the time to complete this task while highlighting lab safety and recognition of potential safety concerns more frequently. 

These proactive monthly checks will serve as a non-punitive way for researchers to audit and track specific safety proficiencies in their laboratory, thereby being more aware of factors that compromise safe working conditions. The monthly self-inspections are available in the MISP Portal as a complement to regularly scheduled EHS safety inspections.

 

Development of a Separate Report for Facility Issues

EHS is developing a new process for the remediation of hazards that are beyond the authority or ability of the lab director to correct (e.g., provision of safety showers, repair of building infrastructure). Once this process is complete, the EHS safety inspector will notify the appropriate group of the facility issue(s). 

Each school or unit should designate the individual to be responsible for receiving these reports and ensuring the issue has been corrected and entering the correction in the MISP portal. Training for facility contacts will be provided prior to implementation. Facility issues identified will be included in the report to the lab director as a point of information.     

 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Risk Assessment Template

In response to faculty requests and in keeping with safe lab practices, EHS has recently developed a PPE Risk Assessment template to designate areas within a lab space where PPE is not required. This newly formalized process is best conducted collaboratively with the lab’s EHS research safety specialist.

The process involves briefly documenting the rationale for reduction in the level of PPE keeping in mind that the level of protection chosen should take into account hazards from work being carried out in the vicinity that could affect the worker. Examples where such an assessment may be useful include areas where hazardous materials are not present, areas protected by adequate distance (note - some desk locations are problematic), or areas protected by adequate physical shielding. The Risk Assessment template is available electronically in Section 6 of the EHS Document Binder. These documented assessments also serve as a training tool for the staff. 

 

Change to the Completion Date for Corrected Deficiencies

All deficiencies identified as part of the EHS inspection are important to correct. Work to abate the deficiencies should begin as soon as feasible. Beginning September 1, 2021, items identified during EHS inspections must be corrected within 30 days of receipt of the laboratory inspection report. This is a change from the previously prescribed time of 60 days. 

If corrective actions cannot be completed within the 30-day timeframe, labs must indicate the anticipated completion date in MISP.  Once the correction is completed, faculty must provide the update through MISP. For instance, if a piece of equipment is identified for repair, the submission of a work order request will qualify as an attempt to correct the deficiency. Labs will also receive notification after the corrective actions have been submitted and the report has been reviewed and closed by EHS staff. 

Please contact your EHS representative if you have further questions on any of these topics or email at ehsanswers@umich.edu.  Thank you for your continued engagement in protecting and preserving a healthy and safe University of Michigan community.

Strengthening the research safety environment at U-M

1
Enhancing a cooperative culture of safety around all research activities
2
Improving communication, awareness and resource assessment across campus
3
Establishing commitment to using proper safety procedures in all research activities
4
Identifying best practices and strategies that may serve as a model for others

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Overview

Through their research and creative work in science, engineering, health, social science, humanities, public policy and the arts, universities seek a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

As a public university, the University of Michigan has a special obligation to ensure that society benefits from the knowledge, insights and other products that arise. The translation of intellectual work to public benefit can take many paths, including undergraduate and graduate education, papers and books, clinical practice, technology licensing and works of art.

Through these processes, universities serve as the foundation of our nation’s economic vitality and quality of life. U-M is committed to enhancing and accelerating the transfer of the results of its work to the public good.