Designating Responsibilities in Shared Space & Equipment Areas
Campus-wide there has been increased emphasis on researchers sharing laboratory/teaching space and equipment to make more efficient use of these resources. When spaces are used by more than one Principal Investigator (PI), it is often not clear who is responsible for the shared space or equipment. For this reason, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) requires that a maximum of two PIs be designated as responsible for managing each shared use space.
Shared use spaces include, but are not limited to: general lab rooms, tissue culture rooms, microscope rooms, analytical rooms, equipment rooms/corridors, environmental rooms, autoclave rooms, dark rooms, chemical storage rooms, teaching labs, teaching prep rooms and stockrooms, and blood draw and processing rooms. Generally, core facilities and service centers that are staffed by UT Austin employees are considered the responsibility of the Director/Associate Director of the facility rather than one of the PIs using the space.
The designated PI(s) must be someone knowledgeable about the work going on in the space. In most cases, the PI must be a faculty member who works in the space. All faculty members using the space are responsible for determining who will be designated as the PI and for notifying EHS of the responsible PI(s). If the faculty members using the space do not notify EHS of the designated responsible PI in a timely manner, EHS will escalate to the department chair(s) of all departments using the space. Furthermore, if the department chair(s) do not notify EHS of the designated responsible PI, EHS will assign responsibility to the PI using the majority of the space and/or the department chair. If the designated responsible PI is no longer using the space, this PI must notify EHS of the new designated PI.
The designated PI is ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance with federal, state, and university regulations in the space. All general lab evaluations will be performed under the designated responsible PI. This PI will receive evaluation reports for the space and is responsible for communicating with other researchers using the space in order to correct any evaluation items noted and for responding to evaluation items in UT HERD.
All shared use spaces must comply with the same regulations as any other lab space on campus. Due to the nature of shared spaces, there are several common issues that EHS observes when visiting these spaces. EHS recommends that the designated responsible PI ensure that these items are checked and corrected regularly.
- The lab space, including any hazardous materials (biological, chemical, and radioactive materials) and their wastes, must be secured when no one is working in the space.
- In unsecured lab spaces (those without locking doors), all biological, chemical, and radioactive materials must be secured in individual equipment, e.g., lockable refrigerators, freezers, storage cabinets. This equipment must be labeled to identify the contents and to indicate the PI/research group storing materials in the equipment. Waste (biological, chemical, and radioactive) must not be stored in unsecured labs.
- Hazardous materials, including biological, chemical, and radioactive materials, and their wastes, must be properly labeled.
- Chemical and radioactive wastes must remain in the lab space where they were generated (separated and labeled to indicate PI/research group).
- If the waste is generated in an unsecured lab space, it may need to be returned to the lab of the PI/research group generating the waste. Contact EHS for further information.
- Regular eyewash flushing is required (eyewashes must be flushed weekly and the flushing must be documented at least monthly).
- Signage indicating all hazards present in the space and emergency contact information of those knowledgeable about the lab space must be posted. If this information needs to be updated, contact EHS.
Securable Research Space Recommended Procedures
Securable research space is research related space with locking doors used by more than one Principal Investigator (PI) or faculty member. Examples of securable space include, but are not limited to, instrument rooms, cold rooms, warm rooms, and darkrooms.
- Departments, colleges, or research units must designate a competent individual as the single point-of-contact responsible for each securable room which is used in support of research but is shared by more than one PI.
- Biological, chemical, or radioactive stock and in-process materials must be properly labeled and the room must be secured when no one in the sharing group is in the area.
- When radioactive material is present, the room must be posted/labeled in accordance with the PIs’ authorizations and unsecured material must be under the direct control of a radiation worker.
- Chemical and radioactive wastes must either be secured in locked cabinets (separated and identified by laboratory group) or returned to the laboratory of the group generating the waste.
- No drinks or food may be stored.
Securable teaching space recommended procedures
Securable teaching (or academic) space is space with locking doors used by more than one faculty member. Examples of securable teaching space include, but are not limited to, stockrooms and teaching laboratories.
- Departments, colleges, or research units must designate a competent individual as the single point-of-contact responsible for each securable room used in support of education and shared by faculty.
- Most biological, chemical, or radioactive stock must be stored in a preparation room and be properly labeled. Some stock may be in teaching laboratories if secured or attended and are the responsibility of the assigned staff member.
- Chemical and radioactive wastes must remain in the laboratory where generated or brought intact, without mixing, to adjoining area also under responsibility of same assigned staff member responsible for the laboratory generating the waste.
Unsecured Teaching Space Recommended Procedures
Unsecured teaching (or academic) space is space without locking doors used by more than one faculty member. An example of unsecured teaching space includes, but is not limited to, an equipment room without doors housing multiple laboratory groups’ refrigerators, freezers, etc.
- Departments, colleges, or research units must designate a competent individual as the single point-of-contact responsible for each unsecurable room. The competent individual must also have some responsibility for the corresponding curriculum utilizing the space.
- All biological, chemical and or radioactive stock or in process materials will be secured in individual equipment, e.g. refrigerators, freezers, storage cabinets.
- Secured equipment must be properly posted or labeled to identify contents.
- No chemical or radioactive waste may be stored.
- No drinks or food may be stored.
Note: Competent individual refers to a Principal Investigator who is responsible for the space; however, a PI can designate an alternate research person only if that designee has comparable responsibility and authority for the space.