Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)

An Occupational Health and Safety Program (OHSP) supports staff with access to biological hazards, such as infectious agents or toxins, and aims to alleviate the risk of adverse health consequences due to potential exposure to biohazards in the workplace. Before research involving biological hazards begins, stakeholders should have plans in place for providing occupational health support to staff with potential health risks of the proposed work.

Occupational health services may be administered through the employer (UH) or be community–based, provided they are readily available, allow timely evaluation, and appropriate treatment. All workers should have access to comparable levels of care and occupational health services based on the risk of occupational hazard exposure. Contractors, students, volunteers and visitors should receive work-related occupational health services through their employer or sponsor, equivalent to those provided by the host institution (BMBL 6th Ed. 130-131).

UH Safety and Health Program A9.750

The University of Hawai’i has a fundamental obligation to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of its students, personnel, and the visiting public whenever they participate in an official University activity. Although the overall responsibility for health and safety rests with the President and is delegated to campus Chancellors/Provosts, Deans, Directors and Department Chairs are responsible for establishing and maintaining programs in their areas which will provide a safe and healthy work and living environment. The primary responsibility for establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for its employees, students and visitors remains at the department level. The University’s Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHSO) is responsible for monitoring compliance with UH Safety and Health Program and AP A9.750.

UH Biosafety Program Procedures

The IBC and Biosafety Program further address occupational health and safety concerns for working with biological materials by one of two processes. Those working in the centralized, biomedical vivarium and/or the JABSOM Biocontainment Facility have a requirement to enroll in the AVS OHSP. Others who use biological materials must provide a project-specific plan for occupational health and safety, which is reviewed by the IBC, and when needed, medical professionals. The OHSP must include but is not limited to identification of hazards, assessment of risk associated with those hazards, and control and prevention strategies. Depending on the nature of the work and risk level, the program may not affect all personnel equally.

To assist researchers, a template for a project-specific OHSP is available for download here and a link is provided in the IBC protocol form. The UH Manoa EHSO provides Fieldwork Safety Guidelines as another useful reference for field studies.

If a requirement for a pre-placement medical evaluation is identified during the review process, the PI will be made aware and the evaluation should be at no cost to the project personnel. At minimum:

  • Those who require respiratory protection must receive a respirator medical clearance, training and fit testing per the UH Respiratory Protection Program.
  • Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers must make hepatitis B vaccinations available to those workers who have reasonably anticipated contact with human blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) during performance of their jobs.
  • OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) is a regulation that prescribes safeguards to protect workers against health hazards related to bloodborne pathogens. All laboratories working with human blood, tissues and other potentially infectious material must have an annually reviewed exposure control plan, wastes management plan and annual evaluation of new sharper technologies.
  • Tuberculosis monitoring is required for person entering mycobacterium laboratories.

Contact uhibc@hawaii.edu if you have questions about OHSPs.

UH Institutional Procedures for Work Related Illness/Injury A9.720

Refer to UH A9.720 for information on how to report a work related illness or injury as well as required forms and procedures for seeking medical treatment.