Revised on
01/26/17 02:13pm
SafetyNet #

Health and Safety Hazards: A Student's Right to Know

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A Student's Right to Know


Students have a right to be informed about hazards they may encounter while pursuing their education and what measures to take to protect themselves. Per campus policy, all UC Davis employees and students must receive information and training about chemical, biological, radiological, and physical hazards.

Materials or equipment that present health or safety hazards may be found in laboratory, shop, or studio classes. These materials include:

  • Chemicals materials. When hazardous substances are used in research or teaching activities, students and personnel who may be exposed to these materials must be informed about the hazards and necessary precautions regarding the substances. Chemical hazards are not confined to the laboratory. Familiar materials such as cleaning agents, paints, photographic chemicals, art materials, automotive supplies, and photocopier products may also contain hazardous substances. Each department is responsible for maintaining a file of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for hazardous substances used by students and departmental personnel, and for displaying the poster “Material Safety Data Sheets and Chemical Emergencies” where chemicals are used or stored. 
  • Biological agents, recombinant DNA molecules, radioactive materials, and radiation-producing machinery. Instructors or investigators who use these materials or equipment for research or teaching purposes must ensure that everyone receives training in possible hazards, precautionary measures and protective clothing requirements. 
  • Physical hazards. Students who must work in areas with hazardous equipment (e.g., power supplies) must receive instruction and protective equipment.

Instructor's Responsibilities 

Faculty members and teaching assistants should inform themselves and their students by:

  • Discussing health and safety precautions, protective equipment, and emergency measures at the beginning of each quarter. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) can provide literature and audiovisual materials on a variety of topics.
  • Reviewing general safety precautions for laboratory, shop, and studio classes.
  • Explaining the content and use of MSDSs for substances used by students in the class.
  • Displaying the poster "Material Safety Data Sheets and Chemical Emergencies". One copy of this poster must be displayed in each teaching laboratory, shop, or studio. Additional posters can be ordered from EH&S by calling 530-752-1493.
  • Referring to EH&S SafetyNets, which provide guidelines for handling a variety of materials. SafetyNets are available through the EH&S website.
  • Seeking more information when necessary. Upon request, EH&S provides information about chemical, biological, physical, and radiological hazards and processes. EH&S can supply information about protective equipment, the chronic and acute physiological effects of substances, and precautions when using specialized equipment. In addition, EH&S can suggest ways to improve the safety of laboratory, shop, and studio facilities.

The Teaching Resources Center sponsors safety orientations during the Fall quarter. Though the class is designed for teaching assistants, other members of the campus community may enroll if space is available. Call 530-752-6050 for more information, or for a copy of “The TA Guide to Instruction at UC Davis.” Students may also contact EH&S directly at 530-752-1493.

Note: This SafetyNet is intended to complement the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (often referred to as the “Worker’s Right to Know” statement) and should not be confused with the “Student Right to Know Act of 1990” (often also referred to as “The Cleary Act”). 

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