Institute Council on Environmental Health and Safety Policy

Type of Policy: 
Administrative
Effective Date: 
May 2006
Last Revised: 
March 2015
Review Date: 
July 2017
Policy Owner: 
Environmental Health & Safety
Contact Name: 
Nazia N. Zakir
Contact Title: 
EHS Director of Research Safety
Contact Email: 
nazia.zakir@ehs.gatech.edu
Reason for Policy: 

Georgia Tech is committed to providing a safe, secure and healthy environment for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors; and conducting its research and educational programs in compliance with applicable environmental health and safety (EHS) laws and regulations, including research funding partner and Board of Regents guidelines and policies.

In 2005, a peer review of Georgia Tech’s EHS programs and processes was conducted by an outside team of EHS experts from other major research universities. The review team recommended changes to reduce institutional risk, enhance academic and administrative partnership opportunities, and address unmet operational needs. A primary recommendation was to establish a campus-wide oversight council and several other EHS-focused committees, with appropriate faculty representation, for the purpose of formulating, integrating, and updating Georgia Tech EHS programs, policies, committees, and compliance procedures.

Based on this recommendation, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance established the Institute Council on Environmental Health and Safety (IC-EHS) in 2006. The IC-EHS is an oversight group charged with coordinating EHS policy development and assessing recommendations of other Institute EHS-focused committees.

This policy codifies the charge of the IC-EHS in overseeing the establishment of EHS policies, procedures, and committees for Georgia Tech, as well as the support role of the EHS Office in education, monitoring, and enforcement of those policies and procedures.

Policy Statement: 

The IC-EHS is charged with formulating, integrating, and updating Georgia Tech’s EHS programs, policies, committees, and compliance procedures.

The IC-EHS will be chaired by a faculty member and will maintain appropriate faculty representation. The IC-EHS reports to the Office of the President through the Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Executive Vice President for Research.

The IC-EHS ensures that the other EHS committees have clear and well documented charges, role definitions, reporting structure, membership assignment processes, and inter-relationships among the committees. The EHS committees include the Biological Materials Safeguards Committee, the Chemical & Environmental Safety Committee, the Laser Safety Committee, the Occupational Health & Safety Committee, and the Radiation Safety Committee.

The Institutional Biosafety Committee and the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee are also represented on the IC-EHS. Both are federally mandated compliance committees constituted in accordance with federal law. Their makeup and operational authority reside in federal law and they are not governed by the IC-EHS.

Roles and responsibilities of the IC-EHS include developing and implementing EHS policies and providing related information to Georgia Tech schools, departments, laboratories and centers regarding compliance matters including chemical, biological, radiological, environmental, occupational health and safety issues. The IC-EHS assesses the effectiveness of these policies, programs, and procedures and the risks associated with non-performance and/or non-compliance. The IC-EHS has the authority to recommend disciplinary actions, in accordance with Institute procedures, for any students, staff or faculty who fail to maintain a safe workplace, fail to perform their work in a safe and compliant manner or who knowingly or willfully disregard safety requirements at Georgia Tech.

The IC-EHS utilizes the Administrative Policy development process for approval of Institute policy where necessary.

Scope: 

All Georgia Tech faculty, staff, students, campus visitors, laboratories, colleges, schools, offices, and departments are subject to this Institute policy.

Procedures: 

4.1 Institute Council on Environmental Health and Safety

Membership The IC-EHS Chair is appointed by the President, in consultation with the Executive Leadership Team and the Assistant Vice President of EHS. Membership of the IC-EHS is comprised of the Chairs of the other Institute EHS-related committees and compliance-related departments including: The Biological Materials Safeguards Committee (BMSC), Chemical and Environmental Safety Committee (CESC), Laser Safety Committee (LSC), the Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC), the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC), the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Other departments with standing appointments to the IC-EHS include Legal Affairs, Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) / Office of Research Integrity Assurance, Stamps Student Health Services and the Office of Human Resources.

Reporting The IC-EHS reports to the Office of the President through the Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Executive Vice President for Research.

4.2 EH&S Committees

Biological Materials Safeguards Committee
The Biological Materials Safeguards Committee (BMSC) is responsible for reviewing and approving all applications for research, teaching, and training that involve the use of biological materials (except recombinant DNA and Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules) including but not limited to pathogenic organisms (including CDC select agents), etiological agents, infectious and non-infectious materials, and certain human samples and ensuring that the proposed activities comply with the federal regulations governing them. The BMSC generally reviews proposals via email, but holds in-person meetings, as needed. The BMSC’s work is coordinated by the EHS Biosafety Officer, who is also the “Responsible Official” for CDC select agents and toxins. The BMSC reviews protocols to ensure the safety of personnel working with these materials and that laboratory practices conform to federal and state regulations. The BMSC reviews policies and procedures for biotechnology at Georgia Tech and advises departments and individual researchers regarding compliance methodologies. The Chair of the BMSC is appointed by the Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Executive Vice President for Research. BMSC members are nominated and appointed by the Chair, in consultation with the Assistant Vice President of EHS, and are selected in a manner to ensure adequate representation across schools and departments which use biological materials.

Chemical and Environmental Safety Committee
The Chemical and Environmental Safety Committee (CESC) advises EHS and the IC-EHS on policies and procedures regarding the safe acquisition, storage, use and disposal of chemicals in Georgia Tech facilities. The Committee considers, evaluates and recommends policies and procedures regarding laboratory safety and chemical hygiene plans. The CESC reviews chemical research protocols for compliance with sponsor agency requirements, federal/state laws and Georgia Tech policies and procedures. The Chair of the CESC is appointed by the Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Executive Vice President for Research. CESC members are nominated and appointed by the Chair, in consultation with the Assistant Vice President of EHS, and are selected in a manner to ensure adequate representation across schools and departments.

Laser Safety Committee
The Laser Safety Committee (LSC) establishes and maintains safety policies, procedures and guidance regarding the use of Class 3B and 4 lasers at Georgia Tech. The LSC meets semi-annually and considers and advises EHS and the IC-EHS on programs and policies regarding the safe and compliant use of Class 3B and 4 lasers at Georgia Tech. The Chair of the LSC is nominated by LSC members. LSC members are nominated and appointed by the Chair, in consultation with the Georgia Tech Laser Safety Officer and the Assistant Vice President of EHS.

Occupational Health and Safety Committee
The Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC) develops policy recommendations and procedures to ensure Institute workplace health and safety. The OHSC is the oversight committee for the Georgia Tech Occupational Health Program, established primarily for workers engaged in research, teaching, or other activities using animal models, research using human blood, tissues, or other products, biological materials, pathogenic organisms, toxins, select agents, chemicals and other hazardous materials or specialized equipment. The OHSC advises EHS and the IC-EHS on the implementation and administration of the Occupational Health and Safety Program. The OHSC will periodically review the program for compliance and effectiveness and provide recommendations to the Assistant Vice President of EHS to enhance program effectiveness. The Chair of the OHSC is appointed by the Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Executive Vice President for Research. OHSC members are nominated and appointed by the Chair, in consultation with the Assistant Vice President of EHS, and are selected in a manner to ensure adequate representation across schools and departments.

Radiation Safety Committee
The Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the health and safety standards associated with the use of radioactive materials and radiation generating devices at Georgia Tech. The RSC meets quarterly, at a minimum, to review proposed experiments and tests utilizing radioactive material, radiation-generating equipment and all the other types of ionizing radiation at Georgia Tech. The RSC also reviews incidents associated with potential radioactive material spills and/or exposures. RSC members are appointed by the President and serve three-year terms. The Chair is is elected by committee members. (http://www.ors.gatech.edu)

Other Research Committees
Other Committees With EHS Involvement – Administered Through the Office of Research Integrity Assurance: Other groups represented on the IC-EHS include the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) and the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) which are mandated and prescribed by federal law. While their representation on the IC-EHS is critical to development and integration of campus safety policies and procedures, their constitution, charges, role definitions, reporting structure, and membership are subject to federal law. These committees operate under written Assurances of Compliance with the relevant federal agency and implement policies that conform to the requirements of those federal agencies.

Institutional Biosafety Committee for rDNA
The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) is responsible for reviewing all applications for research, teaching, and training that involve the use of recombinant DNA (rDNA) and Synthetic Nucleic Acid (sNA) Molecules and ensuring that the proposed activities comply with the federal regulations governing them. The IBC has the responsibility and authority to review, approve, disapprove, or require changes in activities involving rDNA and sNA materials. The IBC holds meetings as needed to review protocols. Georgia Tech’s IBC is registered with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Biotechnology Activities (OBA). The EHS Biosafety Officer is a member of the IBC and works closely with the committee on protocol review and laboratory activities. Committee membership is structured in accordance with federal requirements; members are appointed by the Executive Vice President for Research. (http://researchintegrity.gatech.edu/about-ibc/)

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is charged with reviewing all faculty-, staff-, or student-proposed use of vertebrate animals, regardless of where the work is performed or source of funding, if any. The IACUC focuses on the humane use and treatment of vertebrate animals utilized in research at Georgia Tech. This committee regularly inspects and monitors the animal care and use program to ensure that all components are in compliance with regulations and guidelines outlined in the federal Animal Welfare Act. Georgia Tech animal facilities are registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The IACUC meets monthly, or as needed, to review research protocols which involve vertebrate animals. Georgia Tech’s Animal Welfare Assurance is approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. Committee membership is structured in accordance with federal requirements; members are appointed by the Vice President for Research, who also serves as the Institutional Official for matters related to animal subjects. (http://researchintegrity.gatech.edu/about-iacuc). The IACUC and its records are included in the inspection of the animal program conducted not less than annually by the US Department of Agriculture.

4.3 EH&S Office

Mission
The mission of the EHS Office is to develop and provide training programs, technical assistance, compliance oversight, consultation, and specialized services to the Georgia Tech community in the following areas:

  • Chemical / Laboratory Safety
  • Biological Materials / Biological Laboratory Safety
  • Laser Safety
  • Hazardous Materials Management / Emergency Response
  • Fire and Life Safety
  • Radiological Materials and Radiation-Producing Equipment Safety
  • General (Physical) Safety
  • Environmental Assessment and Compliance

It is the goal of EHS to enhance Georgia Tech’s mission by providing high-quality and value-added service in each of these areas to assist the Institute in meeting its public health, safety and environmental protection responsibilities. This is vital in maintaining a safe, healthful and regulatory-compliant learning, living and working environment for all personnel, for preserving the integrity of research activities, and for facilitating the overall growth of the institution.

Reporting
The EHS Office reports administratively through the department of Facilities Management, with “dotted-line” reporting responsibility to the President’s Executive Leadership Team.

Education
Education and training programs are provided in each of the areas indicated above under Mission.

Enforcement

EHS is responsible for guiding and assisting the Institute community in meeting its public health, safety, environmental protection, and compliance responsibilities.

EHS shall assist PIs and laboratory users in determining and following safe practices; coordinating safety activities; providing education in safety; investigating accidents and incidents in laboratories and chemical incidents campus wide; conducting lab inspections and verifying proper operation of lab safety equipment and systems. While lab safety programs are most effective when lab groups self-monitor and enforce the rules, EHS is also responsible for monitoring and verifying compliance with state and federal safety regulations and Georgia Tech lab safety policies. In addition, EHS is responsible for collecting and analyzing Institute-wide data regarding accidents, injuries, illnesses, and property damage incidents to identify trends and recommend appropriate corrective actions.

In cases of imminent danger to life and health of persons in a laboratory and/or to others nearby or to property, EHS is authorized to take appropriate action including, but not limited to, stopping work, closing the laboratory, and evacuating laboratories or buildings.

Refer also to Section 6 below.

Responsibilities: 

5.1. Institute Council on Environmental Health and Safety.

  1. The IC-EHS serves as a forum in which overlapping and joint areas of concern of various EHS committees are reviewed and clarified, and where individual committee jurisdictional questions are resolved.
  2. The IC-EHS is responsible for identification of new EHS matters that may emerge as new activities at Georgia Tech are undertaken and as new technologies develop or old ones change direction. In instances where such new activities do not fall within the purview of an existing EHS committee, the IC-EHS may expand the area of concern of an existing committee or recommend the creation of a new committee.

5.2. Environmental Health and Safety Committees

  1. EHS-focused committees formulate and update Georgia Tech EHS programs, policies, and compliance procedures.

5.3. Office of Environmental Health and Safety

  1. The EHS Office is responsible for guiding and assisting the Institute community in meeting its public health, safety, environmental protection and compliance responsibilities.
  2. The EHS Office shall assist PIs and laboratory users in determining and following safe practices; coordinating safety activities; providing education in safety; investigating accidents and incidents in laboratories and chemical incidents campus wide; conducting lab inspections and verifying proper operation of lab safety equipment and systems.
Enforcement: 

Any Georgia Tech student, faculty, or staff member who fails to meet their responsibilities for safe conduct of work in laboratories or who knowingly and willfully disregards safety procedures will be held accountable and will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with Institute procedures.

In addition, any visitors using Georgia Tech laboratories who fail to meet their responsibilities for safe conduct of work or knowingly and willfully disregard safety procedures or fail to comply with direct safety instructions from their Georgia Tech faculty sponsor, EHS, or emergency response personnel regarding emergencies or evacuations will be held accountable and subject to loss of privileges to use Georgia Tech laboratory facilities. (NOTE: “visitors” may include contractors, visiting scholars, and other non-Georgia Tech personnel)

An additional method for reporting suspected instances of noncompliance with this policy is to visit Georgia Tech’s EthicsPoint, a secure and confidential reporting system, at: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=7508

Related Documents: 
Policy History: 
Revision DateAuthorDescription
March 2015 EH&S Added Charter memo to related information
05-17-2006 Provost / EVP Admin & Finance New policy
Map of Georgia Tech

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