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RSO Roles and Responsibilities

This page summarizes the roles and responsibilities of a University of Minnesota research safety officer (RSO); and provides suggestions and resources to help you, as an RSO, meet these. The Department of Environmental Health and Safety (DEHS) bases this page on the responsibilities defined within the University's Research Safety Program.

There are six core roles for the RSO:

Act as a Liaison

An RSO functions as a liaison between the DEHS and his/her department and /or unit.

Main responsibilities:

Suggested ways to achieve this:

Know the Rules

An RSO must be knowledgeable of the various environmental health and safety rules that are applicable to their department's area of research. The "rules" that apply depend upon your areas of research, and are imposed by a variety of federal, state, county and University agencies and programs. Regulations (e.g., OSHA, NRC, EPA, and MERTKA) are government requirements. Policies (e.g., Research Safety Plan, and Hazardous Waste Guidebook) are University and/or granting agencies requirements.

Main responsibilities:
Be aware of relevant regulations and policies.

Suggested ways to achieve this:

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Implement a Research Safety Plan

A primary task for an RSO is to ensure that he/she has implemented a Research Safety Plan (RSP) for his/her department. The RSP describes policies, procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices for protecting employees from hazards in laboratories. The RSP meets requirements in both the federal Laboratory Safety Standard and the Minnesota Employee Right To Know Act (MERTKA).

Main Responsibilities

Suggested ways to achieve this:

Coordinate Training

An RSO ensures that all PIs and research personnel receive basic safety training. An RSO also makes sure that PIs provide their research personnel with safety training about their specific research protocols and procedures.

Main responsibilities:

Suggested ways to achieve this:

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Perform Audits

An RSO is responsible for checking that all research areas are safe, that equipment is working as it should, and that all safety rules are followed.

Main responsibilities:

Suggested ways to achieve this:

Keep Records

RSOs assure that departmental health and safety records and forms are kept in an adequate, accessible, and complete manner.

Main responsibilities:

Suggested ways to achieve this:

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