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. 

Responsibilities

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

Writing

  • Prepare and implement a Work Area Safety Plan (see Section CHP A11 for requirements)
  • 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

Chemicals

  • 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)

Reporting

  • 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. WASP and 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. 

New PI?

New PI Checklist

Ordering your own materials?

Hazardous Material Procurement Guide

Environmental Health & Safety