Environmental Health and Safety Policy

Handbook of Operating Procedures 8-1020

Environmental Health and Safety Policy

University of Texas SealEffective June 08, 2015
Executive Sponsor: Senior Vice President and Chief Financial OfficerPolicy Owner: Director, Environmental Health & Safety
I. Policy Statement 

The University of Texas at Austin (“University”) is committed to protecting the health and safety of its students, faculty, staff, and visitors as well as the environment. This is achieved through appropriate compliance with University policies and applicable laws and regulations. Responsibility for the administration of the University’s environmental health and safety program is delegated to the director of environmental health and safety and implemented through operations of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety  ("EH&S"). Compliance with EH&S program procedures and guidelines and applicable laws and regulations is a shared responsibility of all University members.

II. Reason for Policy 

To identify authority and responsibility for the proper management of the University’s environmental health and safety program in accordance with applicable policies and regulatory requirements.

III. Scope & Audience 

This policy applies to all University employees, students, University affiliates, and visitors.

IV. Definitions (specific to this policy) 

All facilities, buildings, and property owned or leased by the University of Texas at Austin.

V. Website (for policy) 
VI. Contacts 
Contact Details Web
Environmental Health and SafetyPhone:512-471-3511Website:
VII. Responsibilities & Procedures 
  1. Responsibilities

All supervisors and employees are responsible for compliance with applicable environmental health and safety laws, regulations, and codes as well as applicable policies and procedures of the University and The University of Texas System .  Responsibility for compliance follows administrative channels noted below.


  1. Environmental Health and Safety

EH&S is responsible for

  • identifying potentially hazardous conditions through regular inspections of University facilities, including but not limited to laboratories, buildings, animal use facilities, greenhouses, growth chambers, machine shops, classrooms and offices;
  • developing safety manuals and guidelines to promote safe work environments and maintain compliance;
  • monitoring compliance with all applicable rules and procedures, guidelines, regulations and laws;
  • developing  programs  and  guidelines  that  promote  good  environmental stewardship;
  • providing timely and effective training;
  • decommissioning laboratories and assisting investigators leaving the institution to ensure proper inactivation and disposal of biohazards and proper disposition/disposal of chemicals, radioisotopes, etc.;
  • providing timely incident response;
  • assisting and advising departments/units to promote a safe work environment;
  • assisting and advising departments in identifying individuals who by nature of their job function are at risk of potential exposure to biological, chemical, physical, and radiological hazards; and
  • conducting audits and inspections.
  1. Committees

The following committees are responsible, in part, for developing policy and providing advice and guidance to senior management and EH&S on matters of safety and the environment:

  • Research Safety – Research Safety Steering Committee (RSSC)
  • Chemical and Lab Safety – Laboratory Safety Advisory Committee (LSAC)
  • Lasers – Laser Safety Committee (LSC)
  • Biosafety – Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)
  • Radiological Safety – Radiation Safety Committee (RSC)
  1. Department/Unit (Deans, Directors, Department Chairs/Heads, Managers)

Deans, directors, department chairs/heads, and managers are responsible for

  • establishing, promoting, and maintaining a culture of safety within the department/unit;
  • responding to safety and environmental inspections;
  • ensuring employees are aware of the University rules regarding environmental health and safety; and
  • monitoring and ensuring departmental compliance with applicable rules, procedures, guidelines, regulations, and laws.
  1. Supervisors

Supervisors are responsible for:

  • identifying individuals who by nature of their job function are at risk of potential exposure to biological, chemical, physical, and radiological hazards;
  • assessing the workplace for chemical, physical, radiological, or biological hazards which can cause illness, injury, or impairment;
  • providing and ensuring proper use of safety equipment and personal protective equipment;
  • providing training and information regarding the EH&S programs; and
  • monitoring and ensuring compliance with applicable programs and their related rules, regulations, policies, and procedures regarding safety and environment.
  1. Employees, Visitors, and Students

Employees, visitors, and students are responsible for:

  • compliance with applicable state and federal laws, regulations, and guidelines as well as approved University rules and procedures.


  1. Environmental Health & Safety Rules and Regulations 

The University will fully comply with federal and state laws and regulations and other applicable requirements relating to environmental health and safety. These laws, regulations, and requirements, as well as institutional policy, guide EH&S in the development of institutional programs and procedures which will facilitate University compliance.  EH&S will consult with external agencies and regulatory bodies as appropriate on behalf of the University.


  1. Inspections and Audits

EH&S has authority to

  • conduct inspections and audits to ensure safe practices and compliance with various environmental health and safety related laws, policies, procedures and regulations;
  • access all buildings and facilities on campus to inspect, sample, or monitor conditions;
  • require appropriate corrective actions; and
  • plan strategies including the development of new safety programs.


  1. Suspend, Restrict, or Close Unsafe Operations

The director of environmental health and safety, or designee, has the authority to immediately suspend, restrict, or close any operation that presents

  • an immediate danger to the health, safety, or welfare of persons or property;
  • a serious violation or repeated violations of institutional requirements or standards; or
  • clear or threatened violation of laws or regulations.

In the event EH&S orders the termination of an activity or operation, EH&S will immediately communicate the issue or violation to the individual(s) involved and his or her immediate supervisor. Notice will be promptly given by EH&S to the associate vice president for campus safety and security, the affected department head, and the appropriate regulatory agency, as required by law.


The terminated activity may resume with the approval of the director of environmental health and safety, or designee, in consultation with the associate vice president for campus safety and security.


  1. Program Areas

EH&S, in consultation with University committees as needed, is responsible for the development and maintenance of the following programs consistent with applicable regulations and University policies. The following list of EH&S program areas under EH&S authority may change based on institutional policy, as well as revised or new laws or regulations.

  • Biological and Laboratory Safety – including programs such as biosafety, drinking water quality, indoor air quality, lab safety, select agents, food safety, and any others as appropriate.
  • Campus and Occupational Safety – including programs such as accident prevention and investigation, industrial hygiene, asbestos, indoor air quality, occupational safety, hearing protection, respiratory protection, confined space, shop safety, and any others as appropriate.
  • Environmental Protection – including programs such as hazardous materials, spill prevention and response, hazardous waste, storm and waste water, environmental assessments, permitting, and any others as appropriate.
  • Radiation and Laser Safety – including programs such as laser safety, radiological safety, radioactive waste, radiation producing machines and any others as appropriate.

EH&S is authorized to develop program documentation, educational materials, training requirements, guidance documents, and standard operating procedures to ensure compliance with relevant environmental health and safety requirements, laws, and regulations.


VIII. Forms & Tools 

Supporting policies and other EH&S related institutional requirements are documented in the Compliance section of the EH&S website.

XI. History 

Last review date:  June 8, 2015

Next scheduled review:  June 2017


This policy was previously called "Safety Policy".

Original HOP 6.32