Texas Tech University

Principal Investigator

As the Principal Investigator (PI) overseeing a research group or laboratory course you have many responsibilities. One of the primary responsibilities within your lab space is epitomizing and enforcing the safety rules of the University. 

Section A5.4 of the University Laboratory Safety Manual outlines the responsibilities of the PI and all other parties who interact with lab spaces including EHS, lab personnel and the Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO). You as the PI have the most influence in the safety culture of your lab spaces. 


The responsibilities listed below are organized into similar categories for ease of reading. They are all the exact policy points outlined in the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP). A printable version of this list is available here.

General Safety

  • Responsible for implementing all aspects of the University Laboratory Safety Manual
  • Ensure all individuals who enter their work area(s) know and follow the University Laboratory Safety Manual
  • Ensure that facilities and training for any material being ordered or used are adequate
  • Supply all appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to all individuals, including visitors and workers, entering your work area(s) and ensure that the PPE is used and in good working order
  • Additional responsibilities are outlined in the Biosafety, Radiation and Laser manuals for research that falls under these policies


  • Prepare and implement a Work Area Safety Plan through the RRAMP website.
  • Prepare written standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all operations conducted and all equipment used in the work area (see Section A12)
  • Determine required PPE and administrative and engineering controls and document this information in written procedures
  • Submit protocols/applications meeting criteria presented by any of the following committees to the relevant institutional safety committee(s) for review and approval prior to work commencing
    • Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC): Review all research and teaching activities involving
      • Recombinant and/or synthetic nucleic acid (rNA/sNA) activities;
      • Materials or agents potentially infectious to humans, plants, and/or animals – including the storage or concentration of any potentially biohazardous materials;
      • Except for general surveillance, arthropods that serve as vectors of disease to humans, plants, or other animals, and arthropods that are considered an environmental hazard;
      • Use of soil seed, plants, plant pathogens (e.g., bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites) or other material received under a USDA APHIS compliance agreement or permit;
      • Use of potentially infectious human and/or non-human primate materials;
      • Use of cell lines that pose a danger to humans, animals, and/or plants, and/or those immortalized by means that render them dangerous to humans, animals, and/or plants;
      • The use of biologically derived toxins;
      • Work involving prions or prion-like proteins;
      • Any Select Agent or Toxin as listed in 7 CFR 331, 9 CFR 121, and/or 42 CFR 73;
      • Animal necropsy that involves hands-on student involvement and/or unknown animal health status;
      • Other work as deemed necessary for review by the Biological Safety Officer; and/or
      • work with other potentially biohazardous materials conducted at, or sponsored by the University for compliance with the guidelines in the CDC/NIH Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) and approve those research projects that meet or exceed the requirements in the BMBL.
    • Institutional Laboratory Safety Committee (ILSC): Protocols involving the laboratory use of energetic materials
    • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC): Protocols involving any live vertebrate animals for research, instruction, demonstration, production, or maintenance purposes, whether the animals are in facilities at TTU or elsewhere
    • Institutional Review Board (IRB): Protocols involving human subjects (including sample collection)
    • Institutional Radiation and LASER Safety Committee (IRLSC): Protocols involving the use of radioactive materials, radiation producing equipment and/or lasers


  • Ensure chemical containers are labeled with all required information, barcoded, segregated by their hazard class (see Appendix AA) and stored in an appropriate manner
  • Perform a hazard determination of chemicals generated within the laboratory
  • Date receipt and track the age of peroxide forming compounds (see Appendix AH)
    • Test peroxide-formers for peroxide formation at a minimum every six months after opening
    • Contact EHS for disposal of any peroxide former if the peroxide test yields 30 ppm or more or if there is visible crystallization, discoloration, or stratification
  • Ensure all individuals who enter their work area(s) are aware of the hazards that are present in the area(s), not just what they will be working with directly

Lab Management

  • Appoint a member of the laboratory as the Laboratory Safety Captain (LSC)
    • This individual should be someone well-versed in the procedures of the lab and familiar with safety policy of the University. They will work with EHS, the DSO and you to oversee safety in your work areas.
  • Ensure that all personnel with access to work area(s) have taken and passed the required EHS safety training(s) outlined in CHP Section A14.2 prior to being given permission to enter the work area (registration for safety training is done through EHS)
  • Provide regular chemical hygiene and housekeeping inspections, including routine inspections of emergency equipment using the Lab Safety Survey Checklist available on the Tools & Templates page.
  • Ensuring chemical hygiene and housekeeping issues are corrected and ensure completion of a Work Order for issues that the PI needs assistance in fixing
  • Check eyewashes weekly to make sure they are running properly. If they need maintenance, contact TTU Building Maintenance and Construction at 742-2102 for repair
  • Check fire extinguishers in your work area(s) to make sure they are charged and in date; if they have not been inspected within the last year or they are not charged, contact Physical Plant at 742-4677 to have them serviced
  • Ensure that equipment being removed from the work area for disposal, Surplus, or transfer is appropriately decontaminated and cleared by EHS (attach completed Equipment Decontamination Form)


  • Notify the DSO and CHO of the need for medical monitoring, consultation and / or examinations
  • Submit a completed Incident Report in the event of injury or damage to property to the DSO or CHO within 24 hours after incident
  • Injuries that require or result in medical attention must be reported to EHS immediately
  • Inform EHS by email to ehs.lab.safety@ttu.edu of non-TTU inspectors (e.g., USDA, CDC, etc.) planning to enter research work areas when the time is known
    • Notify EHS immediately by phone if non-TTU inspectors arrive unannounced
    • Exceptions include scheduled USDA and AAALAC inspections for animal facilities, TCEQ site visits, state fire marshal inspections and inspections related to insurance policies

Tools to Help You in Your Role as PI

  1. Visit our Tools & Templates web page for:
    1. SOP templates compliant with the CHP
    2. Risk assessment guide and worksheets
    3. Posters covering safety topics (don't have the right paper - email us to request the posters you want!)
    4. Lab safety survey checklist
  2. Visit our Standard Operating Procedures web page for SOPs prepared by EHS (so you know they're good). Current topics include hygiene, equipment, waste, biological and chemical hazards. You can request Word document version to tailor them to to your work area.
  3. Visit our Lab Forms page to find Chemical Barcode Request and Return forms and Equipment Decontamination Forms. 
  4. Like videos? Visit our Safety Videos page for videos on different safety topics. 
  5. You can request Lab Safety Services at any time. This includes fume hood assessment, equipment clearance, a guest speaker to your lab group meeting and more!
  6. Have a question? Visit the FAQ page. Don't see it there? Email us directly.