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Enhancing the Health of Veterans through Research and Education

Safety & Security

Maintaining a safe work environment is important to you, your co-workers and to the PVARF. Each employee is expected to work safely and to immediately report any unsafe condition to a supervisor.

Safety Equipment

In order to assist in providing a safe and healthy work environment, we provide safety equipment and training programs necessary to perform your job effectively. It is your responsibility to ensure you are using all equipment properly and to notify your supervisor if you need additional training or replacement of equipment. Your PI will provide detailed information on specific safety procedures that apply to his/her scientific project. Additional information is available on videotapes, handouts and manuals.

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Safety Issues

Research Service has many unique safety issues that include chemical safety, air quality, radiation safety, infection control, and hazardous materials use and disposal. The safety staff in Engineering Service work very closely with Research Service to monitor, educate, and correct safety violations.

Engineering Service has a safety staff that deals with the many issues facing a large medical center in creating a safe work environment. They also provide protective devices and training to teach employees safe practices.

Employees who will handle radioactive materials will receive additional training on these substances. The training is mandatory, and the Radiation Safety Officer in Engineering Service issues radiation badges.

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Orientation Videos and Annual Training

The PI is responsible for ensuring that the employee receives orientation to the assigned research area and that the employee completes the safety computer modules available at http://www.visn20.med.va.gov/portland/research prior to beginning work. The safety training consists of a series of annual training on General Safety (for all Research Service personnel), Chemical and Laboratory Safety (for those who work in a wet laboratory) and Radiation Safety (for any employee who uses radioactive substances). Appropriate annual safety training is mandatory for all research personnel.

The R&D administrative office maintains records of training, through email verification of completion of training.

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Laboratory Security

The laboratory contains many hazardous materials including chemicals and radioisotopes that must be secured from the patients and the public. Laboratory security is also critical since PIs store confidential information in laboratories and offices. You will be issued keys to the laboratory after your PI or designee has signed for acceptance of theses keys. There is also an external security system in the corridors of Buildings 101, 103, 104 and Building 6 that requires a proxy card, to monitor whom is entering or leaving the laboratory, the point of entry or exit, and the time of day. You will receive a proxy card after you and your PI or designee has signed for acceptance of this card. A staff member in the R&D administrative office will issue keys and the proxy card to you. If you lose your keys or card, let the R&D administrative office know so that they can disable it. This will help keep secured areas secure. If you lose your keys you will be charged $155 for each key or card lost.

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Identification Badges

All PVARF employees are required to wear identification badges. This badge is particularly important to employees who work non-traditional hours, as the need may arise to request assistance from Medical Center Security to access certain areas. They will always request to see identification.

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Inclement Weather Policy/Emergency Closings

At times, emergencies such as severe weather or power failures can disrupt operations. In extreme cases, these circumstances may require the closing of facilities. If operations are officially closed due to emergency conditions, employees may be allowed to use “sick hours” for the time lost.

Employees generally are expected to report to work during inclement weather conditions if PVARF does not declare an emergency closing. Employees should check with their supervisor or call PVARF Human Resources for guidance. Non-exempt employees who are unable to report because of weather conditions will be granted an authorized unpaid absence. However, a non-exempt employee may request annual leave, if available, for the period of the closing. Non-exempt employees who are late because of weather conditions will be given a chance to make up their missed time if work schedules and conditions permit.

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Veterinary Medical Unit (VMU)

The Veterinary Medical Unit is an important part of conducting research. Use of animals to test theories and behavior has important applications for subsequent trials in humans. A full time veterinarian supervises the activities in the VMU. There is a staff of employees who care for the animals to ensure proper and humane treatment.

If you are assigned to work in a laboratory that uses animal models, the veterinarian will provide special training for you and allow access to the VMU through the proxy card system. The security in this area must be very tightly controlled.

There are many special procedures that must be adhered to when using animals. These procedures must be followed to protect you and the animal. The VMU staff is available for consultation and the veterinarian can be paged at any time.

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