Chapter 1: Research Integrity

1.3 Safety

In the research environment, the PI is in a critical position to understand the operation and equipment involved, the materials and methods used, and, therefore, the potential risks associated with the work being done. The PI's attitude toward health and safety will contribute significantly to the education of students regarding the conduct of research.

The Hospital's commitment to providing a safe environment for everyone creates particular requirements for PIs in research laboratories. Labs at Children's Hospital house chemicals, equipment and other materials that can pose hazards. Regulations governing health and safety are promulgated at the federal, state and local level. The CHOP Research Institutes' Office of Research Safety in conjunction with The Hospital's Office of Environmental Health and Safety maintains an online library of documents, reports, regulations and guidelines.

Training is fundamental to safety. In particular circumstances, training can be required as a condition of laboratory access. Vigilance in the lab also requires ongoing communication and the prompt reporting of problems. The Office of Research Safety provides online forms to ask questions or to report unsafe conditions and hosts monthly lab safety meetings on each floor of the Abramson Research Center to facilitate communication and education.

In addition to general safety requirements, there are two particular areas that require special review and approval in advance by an administrative panel.

  • Recombinant DNA molecules, and infectious or biohazardous agents: Clinical and basic researchers must be familiar with the Biological Safety Manual and must register this work with the Institutional Biological Safety Committee (IBC)
  • Radioactive isotopes, ionizing, ultraviolet lasers and/or microwave radiation: Contact the University of Pennsylvania Environmental Health and Radiation Safety Office to submit a proposal to use these items.

Ask the Experts

Ray Colliton
Office of Research Safety

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CHOP Research Resources

  • Responsible Department: The CHOP Research Institutes' Office of Research Safety
  • Institutional Biological Safety Committee (IBC)
  • CHOP Environmental Health and Safety
  • Biological Safety Manual

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More Information

  • University of Pennsylvania Environmental Health and Radiation Safety Office
  • OSHA Safety and Health Topics for Labs
  • Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories
  • National Institutes of Health – Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules

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