Welcome to the Environmental Health and Safety Department (EH&S)
As a department under Health Sciences Administration, EH&S is a UW administrative department that assists organizational units in meeting their responsibility to protect the environment and to provide a safe and healthful place for employment and learning.
In 1968, EH&S was created by combining several health and safety functions from various departments. In the early days, program emphasis was on radiation safety, environmental safety, environmental sanitation and industrial hygiene. With a staff of twelve, the EH&S office was located about a mile from the main campus. New federal, state and local regulations created the need to expand EH&S resources in order to remain in compliance.
Currently EH&S employs about 100 people who are spread across campus in multiple locations. We have seven sections that are organized around the services that we provide. Those include:
Campus Preventive Health
The Campus Preventive Health section consists of programs to maintain the health and safety of faculty, staff and students on campus. The Employee Health Center and Health Sciences Immunization Program provide medical evaluations and medical clearance for UW faculty, staff and students who work with hazardous substances or may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens. The Public Health program ensures the safety of food served on campus, drinking water, pools and spas, and handles pest and wildlife issues. The Outreach and Communication program engages the campus community to ensure compliance and communicate safety information.
The Environmental Programs section supports UW departments by collecting, transporting, recycling and disposing of hazardous chemical waste generated on campus. Our pollution prevention activities involve reduction of chemical waste volume through chemical recycling and redistribution, substitution of less hazardous chemicals, avoiding excess chemical inventory and preventing environmental pollution.
The Environmental Programs section also manages and maintains the MyChem chemical inventory and safety data sheet (SDS) management system, the underground storage tank program, water quality, stormwater permit requirements, air operating permit requirements, and environmental assessment and cleanup requirements.
The Laboratory Safety programs focus on chemical hygiene and mitigating the hazards present in over 900 laboratories on the UW campus that contain potentially hazardous materials. Our programs provide guidance to researchers on training, personal protective equipment, chemical inventory management, standard operating procedures, waste handling, safety equipment maintenance, signage, housekeeping and other lab safety topics. We inspect and certify fume hoods and biological safety cabinets, conduct surveys and inspections, and regularly update the UW Laboratory Safety Manual as a resource for researchers to remain in compliance with local, state and federal regulations.
Occupational Safety and Health
The Occupational Safety and Health section’s programs focus on accident and injury prevention, industrial hygiene, and building and fire safety to reduce EH&S risks and ensure compliance for the University. Our programs address workplace hazards related to asbestos and other regulated building materials, confined spaces, electrical safety, hazardous energy control, hot work, shop and maker space safety, chemical exposures, indoor air quality, noise, and ergonomics.
We provide assistance to UW departments to develop Accident Prevention Plans, Fire Safety & Evacuation Plans and prepare staff for emergency evacuations. We help the campus community with fire department permit applications for campus events and we monitor compliance with the International Fire Code. We provide design guidance, plan review, consultation and testing for construction projects. We track reports of accidents and injuries on campus and work closely with health and safety committees to prevent future incidents.
Planning and Administration
The Planning and Administration section consists of the senior director and the assistant to the director, the administrator, the information systems team, and the strategic planning and fiscal programs.
The Radiation Safety section is responsible for maintaining strict regulatory control of radiation producing devices, including approving authorizations for use of radioactive materials. We carefully control the purchase, use and disposal of radioactive materials on the UW campus. In addition, we maintain a radiation control program at University Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center.
Find our programs in the Radiation menu.
Research and Occupational Safety
The Research and Occupational Safety section provides key support to researchers at the University for compliance with federal, state and local regulations governing research with potential hazards. The Biological Safety program includes oversight of research involving biohazards and recombinant or synthetic DNA/RNA and provides laboratory audits, training, and consultation for handling biohazardous waste. The Diving Safety Program provides training and oversight to faculty, staff and students who use self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) as a tool to conduct underwater research. We also provide recommendations for occupational health precautions and safe work practices to mitigate research-related risks.
Executive Order No. 55: University Health and Safety Programs: Policy and Responsibilities
The University of Washington is committed to providing a healthy and safe environment for faculty, staff, students, visitors, and volunteers in all sites owned, operated, or controlled by the University. This commitment includes supporting a culture of health and safety across the University.
Collectively the University President, faculty, staff, students, visitors, volunteers, University Health and Safety Committees, the Environmental Health and Safety Advisory Board, and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) all have responsibility to support a culture of health and safety. To learn more, see the Executive Order No. 55 found on the UW Policy Directory.