The University of Iowa

New Personnel Orientation

This information applies to employees working in lab environments, e.g., wet labs using chemical, biological, or radioactive materials. Employees working in non-research areas (Art, Facilities, etc.) should review program information under the Occupational Safety section or contact Occupational Safety staff with any questions.

Contact information and areas of expertise can be found on the Contact Us page.

    An EHS Safety Advisor will contact new PIs when EHS learns of their arrival at the University. The Safety Advisor will arrange a meeting with the new PI to share health and safety program information that PIs need to know when setting up a research lab. In addition, the auditor will:

    • Provide the PI with a safety binder containing pertinent paperwork and information;
    • Explain required training and associated documentation; and
    • Coordinate access to other EHS program areas (chemical inventory account, biosafety cabinet certification cycle, etc.).

    The PI will then be assigned a permanent advisor who will conduct the lab’s annual EHS laboratory review from then onward.

    Additionally, in their first year, new PIs are themselves required to complete the trainings and documentation listed below.

    Online Coursework:

    •  Lab Chemical Safety (W008CM), plus the site-specific form
    • PPE Awareness for Labs (W157CM)
    • Biohazardous Waste Management (W524HZ), plus the site-specific form
    • Basic Biological Safety (W004BO) if their lab will work with any biological materials
    • Bloodborne Pathogens, Labs (W003BO), plus the site-specific form, if their lab will work with any human BBP materials
    • rDNA Research, NIH Guidelines (W137BO), if their lab will work with any recombinant organisms


    • Read the Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) and sign the signature page.
    • Complete the PPE Hazard Assessment Tool and sign the signature page.

    These trainings and documents must be completed and topics discussed with the new employee before work begins in the lab.

    Online Coursework:

    1. All employees must complete online training that corresponds to the types of work they will be conducting during research activities. These courses are available through HR Self-Service and/or ICON. Workers who do not have a University of Iowa HawkID must contact EHS to request a guest ID in order to access these courses. Refer to the Required Safety Training document for common laboratory course information. Additional information for tracking training needs once the laboratory is established can be found at Laboratory Safety Training.
    2. Some courses require site-specific training regarding hazards in the lab, as noted in the course information. The Principal Investigator or designee must provide this training before staff begins any work.

    Laboratory Equipment and Engineering Controls:

    1. Employees must be trained regarding when and how to use engineering controls (e.g. chemical fume hood, biological safety cabinet, etc.).
    2. Employees must be trained on how to safely operate lab equipment (e.g. lasers, machinery, UV-emitting equipment, etc.).

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

    1. Employees must know what is covered in the lab’s PPE Hazardous Assessment Tool (PPE HAT). They must sign the PPE HAT signature page to signify they have covered this information with their supervisor.
    2. Employees must know where PPE is kept and what is available.
    3. Employees choosing to use a dust mask or other voluntary respirator must review and be added to the lab’s respirator program. Lab’s without a current respirator program must complete a Respirator Evaluation Request form and submit the completed form to EHS Chemical Safety, 100 EHS.

    Chemical use: 

    1. Employees must know where SDSs are kept (Chemwatch, electronic PDFs in a shared file, on a thumb drive or via paper copy), and read the SDS of any chemical they will be using.
    2. Employees must know where the lab's Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) is located and ensure this is reviewed. They must sign the CHP signature page to signify they have covered this information with their supervisor.
    3. Employees must know what PPE is necessary for handling chemicals.
    4. Employees must know where to locate the spill kit and check the contents. They must review the Spill Response Guides and be able to classify a spill as either minor or major.
    5. Employees must know where to locate the closest eyewash stations, emergency shower, and fire extinguisher.

    Human materials use - Bloodborne Pathogen (BBP) Program:

    1. A Bloodborne Pathogen at Risk Assessment must be performed when human materials are used. The form should be provided to the department’s Exposure Control Officer (ECO). You may also call or email the ECO to alert them of a new employee.
    2. If considered “at risk”:
    • Paid employees must be offered the Hep-B vaccination and complete the Hepatitis B Immunization Survey in the online ReadySet system, regardless of whether s/he accepts or declines the vaccination. If an employee initially declined the vaccination, s/he may decide to receive it later, if s/he is still considered “at risk”.
    • Unpaid workers must be advised of the risks of working with BBP materials. If they wish to obtain the HBV vaccine, it is at their own cost or covered by their personal insurance. Please consult with your primary physician or insurance provider.
    1. “At risk” workers must review the Exposure Control Plan (ECP) and know the name of the Exposure Control Officer.

    Biological Agent Use:

    1. When work with biological agents is performed in the lab, employees must understand the hazards associated with each agent, and be provided appropriate handling and decontamination procedures.
    2. Employees must know how to dispose of all laboratory items properly, especially what must be disposed of in the red biohazard tubs/bins.
    3. Employees must know that disposable gloves must be used when handling biological materials and biohazardous waste.
    4. If ethidium bromide is used, staff must understand proper disposal via the separate liquid and solid waste streams.
    5. Employees that will work with recombinant DNA (rDNA) materials must be added to the PI's rDNA protocol prior to beginning work with the material.

    Chemical Hazardous Waste:

    1. Employees must know how to collect, segregate, and store chemical waste properly. 
    2. Employees must know how to label chemical waste containers properly. Employees should be informed how to prepare waste containers for pick-up and how to submit a request for waste pick-up (waste pick-up information).

    Radioactive Materials Use:

    1. Employees that will work with radioactive materials (RAM) must be added to the PI's RAM permit prior to beginning work with the material.

    First Report of Injury:

    1. Employees must know where to go for treatment if injured in the laboratory. 
    2. Employees must know how to fill out and submit a “First Report of Injury” document if there is an injury in the laboratory.