Safety Policies

SY01 Environmental Health and Safety Policy

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Jim Crandall, 863-3767,

Policy Steward: 

Assistant Vice-President for Police and Public Safety / Director of Environmental Health and Safety



The Pennsylvania State University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its employees, students, visitors and the environment. The purpose of this document is to establish an organizational structure to ensure the effective implementation of this policy at all University locations.


All employees, students and visitors are expected to comply with the statements that follow. Each department or unit shall supplement this policy document with specific procedures about hazards in their workplace and the precautions necessary to control and prevent these hazards. These supplements, prepared in cooperation with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, may be in the form of, as examples, written procedures or training programs.

The responsibility for the administration of the University's health and safety program is assigned to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.Implementation of this Policy is the responsibility of the entire University community - staff, faculty and students.

The University Safety Council, with members representing the University's academic colleges and administrative units, is responsible to identify needs, develop procedures, and assist in the implementation of environmental health and safety programs under the direction of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. (See E.H.S. Tab for endorsements.)

Applicable federal and state laws and regulations, together with policies and procedures issued by or through the office of Environmental Health and Safety will provide the guidance under which the University will conduct its safety program.


The University Safety Council is comprised of members representing academic colleges and administrative units, as appointed by their respective budget executives. University Safety Council representatives are commonly referred to as "Safety Officers."

The duties of the University Safety Council are to develop and implement, under the guidance of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, a comprehensive and practical occupational health and safety program, and to maintain an environment that is conducive to the safety, health and well-being of the University community.


University Safety Council:

  1. Each member of the University Safety Council shall attend the regularly scheduled meetings and special meetings of the University Safety Council, and report Council activities to the appropriate budget executive.
  2. Establish and maintain, as chairperson, a Safety Committee within the member's area of responsibility. The size and structure of this Committee shall be dictated by the types of activities, the potential hazards inherent to those activities, and the number of persons who may be exposed.
  3. Accompany insurance company loss prevention representatives on inspections of areas under the Safety Officer's jurisdiction.
  4. Review all employee accidents, or the Incident Report for non-employees or employees not engaged in normal employment activities, whichever report is appropriate for the accident/illness, and any other associated accident/illness reports.
  5. Assist in the investigation of all serious accidents, and all other accidents or process safety incidents when requested by the supervisor.
  6. Initiate proper follow-up measures and ensure corrective actions are implemented when unsafe conditions, practices or equipment are reported or observed.

Budget Executives and Budget Administrators:

  1. These functions have the primary responsibility to maintain a safe work environment within their jurisdiction, by monitoring and exercising control over their assigned areas.
  2. Assign a representative from each academic and administrative unit to the University Safety Council. This representative must be selected to ensure compliance with this policy and other appropriate University safety policies, rules, procedures and practices. This is often the individual designated to act on behalf of the budget executive or budget administrator.
  3. Communicate to all faculty, employees and students that health and safety of persons in the workplace and environment are of the highest priority at Penn State University.
  4. Ensure that health and safety responsibilities are carried out in the academic departments or administrative units for which they are responsible.
  5. Ensure that environmental health and safety obligations established by this program applicable to their areas of jurisdiction are carried out. This includes assuring compliance with applicable state and federal health and safety rules, regulations, standards and procedures. Included, for example, are regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and policies and procedures established by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.
  6. Monitor implementation of programs designed to protect the health and safety of faculty, staff, students and visitors:
    1. Consult with their University Safety Council representative and/or the Office of Environmental Health and Safety with respect to new, existing or planned facilities or equipment that may present a health, safety, or process safety hazard to determine specific measures that may need to be implemented to control these hazards before exposure to these hazards may occur.
    2. b. Support measures such as training, use of protective devices, and resources to control and prevent hazards.


  1. All supervisors (department chairs, faculty, and other employees with direct oversight of University activities and employees or students) have specific responsibilities to provide for the health and safety of those supervised. They are in a key position in the organizational structure to carry out the department's safety policies and to prevent injuries to their employees.
  2. Be thoroughly informed of appropriate University and Departmental safety policies, rules and procedures and how they specifically apply to their responsibilities and authority.
  3. Inform all new and current employees and students that safety and health, and concern for the environment, are priorities at Penn State and to inform them about safety and health policies, rules, regulations and procedures, as well as their specific responsibilities (next Section, below).
  4. Ensure that required safety equipment, devices and personal protective equipment and apparel are provided and maintained, and are properly used by individuals working in their operations.
  5. Provide employees and students with instruction and assistance in the proper operation of equipment, materials, or processes involved in any operation which may be potentially hazardous.
  6. Take prompt corrective action when unsafe conditions, practices or equipment are reported or observed.
  7. Encourage prompt reporting of health and safety concerns.
  8. Promptly conduct a thorough investigation in all work-related injuries, illnesses, accidents, and process safety incidents, submit appropriate recommendations on all accident reports, as appropriate, and follow through to ensure corrective measures have been implemented.
  9. Coordinate or conduct inspections to maintain safe and healthful conditions, and address any deficiencies that are identified.
  10. Provide for health and safety training.
  11. Provide financial support for health and safety improvements, or request assistance from the next higher level of supervision regarding these requests.

Employees and Students:

  1. All University employees and students have specific responsibilities to comply with established health and safety policies, standards, rules, procedures and regulations. Compliance with these is essential to create and maintain a healthy and safe environment at all University locations.
  2. Comply with applicable environmental health and safety policies, standards, rules, regulations and procedures. These include safety-related signs, posters, warnings and written/oral directions when performing tasks.
  3. Do not perform any function or operation which is considered hazardous, or is known to be hazardous without proper instructions and authorization.
  4. Only use equipment and materials approved or provided by the supervisor or instructor and for which instruction has been provided by this or other experience.
  5. Become thoroughly knowledgeable about potential hazards associated with the work area; knowing where information on these hazards is maintained and how to use this information when needed.
  6. Wear or use prescribed protective equipment.
  7. Report all unsafe conditions, practices, or equipment to the supervisor, instructor or safety officer whenever deficiencies are observed.
  8. Inform the supervisor or instructor immediately of all work-related injuries, accidents or process safety incidents and obtain prompt medical attention when necessary.
  9. Provide information necessary for the supervisor or safety officer to adequately and thoroughly complete the associated accident/illness/process safety reports.


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Director of Environmental Health and Safety.


Other Policies in this Manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

AD01 - Policies and Procedures for Use of University Auditoriums,

AD02 - Non-University Groups Using University Facilities,

AD21 - Use of the Agricultural Arena and Agricultural Progress Days Facilities,

RA14 - The Use of Human Subjects in Research,

and all of the SY (Safety) Policies.

Most Recent Changes:

  • March 06, 2019 - Added Process Safety considerations.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • February 26, 2014 - Editorial changes. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.

  • April 22, 2005 - Editorial changes to eliminate "General Forms Usage Guide" and correct links.
  • July 24, 1998 - New policy.

Date Approved: 

March 6, 2019

Date Published: 

March 6, 2019

Effective Date: 

March 6, 2019