MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

Guidelines: Safety Requirements

You are not authorized to begin your UROP research until all department and EHS safety training requirements have been fulfilled. To help you understand MIT's policies regarding laboratory safety and more we have compiled this help page of references. Be sure to consult this page before you begin your project.

Click on one of the links below to jump to more information on the topic in question.


Supervision

Supervision of UROP students must conform to the MIT Policy on Working Alone. For specific requirements, please see the CAB/ESCRO policy for students working in biological research laboratories. The MIT Committee on Radiation Protection restricts undergraduates from the unescorted use of gamma irradiator facilities. All other restrictions for undergraduates are listed as specific conditions of approval with their respective PI’s authorization.

Environment Health and Safety (EHS)

UROP participants often use or work near materials, equipment, or energy that may be potentially hazardous to themselves, others, and/or the environment. The privilege of working with these potentially hazardous substances bears a responsibility on the part of the UROP student as well as the host laboratory. The PI/Supervisor of the laboratory is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of everyone in his or her laboratory, including employees and undergraduate researchers (UROPs). It is expected that UROP students will be supervised at all times while in the laboratory or other potentially hazardous environments. Therefore, a UROP student should not be assigned to be a supervisor, even of other UROPs or high school students.

Responsibilities of UROP participants are as follows:

MIT requires that everyone who works in a laboratory, including UROPs, complete the EHS Training Needs Assessment on the EHS Office's training web site, http://ehs.mit.edu/site/training.

Your EHS Representative will help you use the Training Needs Assessment to identify the specific training regiments based on the potential hazards used in your project to determine what trainings are required before your work starts.

Please review the checklist of UROP courses and the corresponding trainings generally required to work in these areas.

When you start your UROP project, you should also receive a Lab Specific Training from your PI/Supervisor or from the lab's EHS Representative. The goal of this Lab Specific Training is to familiarize you with the potential hazards that exist in your specific laboratory, to identify ways to minimize the hazards of your UROP project, and to provide an opportunity for you to learn the correct lab practices that can be carried forward as your career progresses. As part of your orientation, you should be taught the lab's specific safety policies and procedures and receive a tour of the lab. This includes evacuation routes, safety equipment, personal protective equipment, and proper disposal procedures for the types of waste generated in your laboratory.

The MIT EHS Office is a single entity comprised of five programs: Biosafety, Environmental Management, Industrial Hygiene, Radiation Protection, and Safety. If at any time during your UROP experience you have questions about any environmental, health or safety aspects of the work you or others are doing, don't hesitate to ask us. You may contact any program within the EHS Office at 452-EHSS (2-3477), or via email to environment@mit.edu.

See the team contact list and Department coordinator chart for contact information for your department's safety staff.

Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects

The rights and welfare of subjects of biomedical research, social science research and other kinds of human experimentation are protected by MIT's policies that place all types of human use in research studies within the purview of the Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES). Any research conducted at MIT or by MIT personnel that uses humans for research subjects, or experiments that utilize donated blood or tissue must first be cleared with the Committee. Projects that involve questionnaires, market surveys, and non-invasive experiments in the social sciences also require approval by COUHES. UROP work that fits these categories must be approved by COUHES. It is the responsibility of the project supervisor to seek COUHES approval for the project, which includes UROP work.

For more information, contact the chairman of COUHES, visit E23-230, call x3-6787, or email mede@med.mit.edu or firn@med.mit.edu. Additional information can be found on the COUHES website.

Care of Laboratory Animals

The Committee on Animal Care (CAC) [MIT access only, web certificates required] is concerned with the humane care of animals used in research and training. It is guided by federal, state, local, and institutional regulations. CAC inspects animals, animal facilities and laboratories. It also reviews all research involving animals before experiments are performed.

Concerns about inadequate animal care or treatment should be brought to the attention of the Committee. You may contact CAC and Dr. Barbara O'Pray, CAC chair, at x3-9436.

Students working in research laboratories using animals are obligated to receive training in handling animals and humane practices in research. Laboratory directors should contact the CAC office to confirm or arrange student training before participation in animal research begins.

Be sure to follow the instructions provided in the CAC Policy on Undergraduate or UROP Participation in Research before beginning any animal research. You cannot begin participation in animal research until an approval notice is received from the CAC.

 

 

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