Safety Requirements

Physics Department Safety

The Physics Department is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for students, staff, and faculty. We strive to teach appropriate respect for safety while engaging in scientific pursuits. Department faculty and the Department Safety Committee work to ensure that of all laboratories and shops are compliant with federal, state, local, and USU safety requirements.

All persons who work in Physics Department research laboratories or shops are required to read and understand (i) the USU Safety and Health Policy and (ii) the Physics General Safety Requirements (see below).  At the bottom of this page is a form for confirmation that one has read and understood these policies.

In addition to these general USU and Physics Departments policies, each laboratory is required to have a set of specific safety policies that are outlined in an appropriate Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP).  Each laboratory is also required to have a Specific Operating Procedure (SOP) that details safety protocol associated with each potentially hazardous material or process.  All persons working in each lab are required to understand the CHP and any appropriate SOPs.

Physics General Safety Requirements

I.  Hazard Communication

  1. Signage - All labs and shops should have a sign posted on the entry that provides contact information for the lab PI or manager, department head, and emergency personnel. The sign should also include a summary of potential hazards, and notice that only authorized personnel may enter.
  2. Safety Documentation - Each research lab is required to have readily available the following documentation: (i) An appropriate chemical hygiene plan (CHP), (ii) any relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and (ii) any relevant Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).

II.  General Guidelines

  1. PPE - Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is required when working in the research laboratories. PPE may include goggles or safety glasses, a lab coat, and proper gloves. Specific lab entry requirements and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for hazardous activities can be found in the safety documentation of each laboratory.
  2. Food and drinks - Food and drinks are not allowed in laboratory. Food and drink containers must be disposed outside the laboratory.
  3. Shoes - Shoes should cover the entire foot. Sandals, clogs, and other open-toed or open-heeled shoes do not cover enough foot and are not allowed.
  4. Hair - Hair should not be worn in a style such as would impair vision, cause distractions during job functions, or come in contact with work surfaces or moving equipment.
  5. Emergency equipment - Anyone working in a research lab or shop should know the locations of the closest fire extinguisher, eye-wash station, safety shower, first aid box and chemical spill materials.
  6. Emergency exit - Exits and aisles must not be obstructed by equipment, chairs, supplies, or trash. Exit doors must not be blocked, locked, or obstructed in any way to inhibit egress.

III.  Handling of Chemicals

  1. Fume hood - Always make sure any fume hood is operational before use. Open the sash to proper height when performing a procedure. Avoid opening the sash too high as this may reduce the effectiveness of air flow. Avoid overaccumulation of items in the fume hood that may restrict the air flow. Lower the sash after performing the procedure.
  2. Chemical transport - For transporting chemicals outside the laboratory, always place the chemicals in secondary confinement and transport on a cart. The hand carrying of chemicals outside the laboratory is absolutely forbidden. When transporting chemicals within the laboratory always wear PPE including gloves, goggles, and lab coat, and carry the chemicals with caution. Never grab a container by the cap. Return the chemical to its designated storage site after use.
  3. Chemical storage - All chemicals must be stored appropriately with other compatible chemicals/materials. Refer to chemical Safety Data Sheets for storage information.
  4. Hazardous waste - All laboratory chemical and hazardous waste must be disposed of through the EH&S Office Hazardous Waste Pickup process. Chemical waste must NOT be put in trash waste bins or poured down any drain.
  5. Housekeeping - Good housekeeping is an essential aspect of laboratory safety. The work area must be cleaned up at the end of each procedure and prior to the start of a new procedure.
  6. Chemical spills - You must know the location of spill clean up material in your laboratory. You must know the Spill Prevention and Response procedure for your laboratory.

Physics General Safety Acceptance Form

EH&S Safety Training

Safety Courses

The USU Environmental Health and Safety office offers a wide variety of safety courses. These course include safety topics related to biology, chemistry, laser, physical, radiation, and waste and recycling. The EH&S Laboratory Personnel webpage lists all available courses. From this page one may register for any of the offered courses.

Incident Reporting

Accidents and Near Misses

All safety related accidents and near misses must be reported to the Physics Department and the EH&S Office.  Each entity has its own forms; links to these forms are provided below.

Accident Reporting Forms

The Accident Report forms are used to document all laboratory or shop based incidents within the Physics Department that have resulted in (i) personal injury and/or (ii) property damage that required the involvement of USU Facilities, Environmental Health & Safety, Risk Assessment, or local fire and/or law-enforcement officials.  Please fill out both forms following an accident.

All accidents in any Physics Department setting should be reported using this form:
Physics Department Accident Reporting Form

Accidents involving employees (including student employees) in a Research Laboratory setting should also be reported using the appropriate EH&S form:
EH&S Office Accident Reporting Form

Near Miss Reporting Forms

The Near Miss forms should be used to describe non-injury situations within laboratories or shops in Physics Department that could have resulted in injury or property damage under slightly different circumstances. Portions of the general information provided on this form may be used for future training purposes.

All accidents in any Physics Department setting should be reported using this form:
Physics Department Near Miss Reporting Form

Accidents involving employees (including student employees) in a Research Laboratory setting should also be reported using the appropriate EH&S form:
EH&S Office Accident Reporting Form

Completed Physics Department forms should be emailed to and

Safety Resources

University Policy

USU Safety and Health Policy

Hazard Communication

The following files and links may be useful in developing and locating requisite Hazard Communication documentation, including Chemical Hygiene Plans (CHPs), Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs), and Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).

Safety Data Sheets

Physics Department Documentation

Material Physics Group Safety Presentation (6/9/17)

External Websites

Committee Members

Departmental Safety Committee

James Coburn

James Coburn

Teacher and Lab Supervisor


Phone: 435-797-3014
Office Location: SER 116
JR Dennison

JR Dennison



Phone: 435-797-2936
Office Location: SER 222D
Mark Riffe

Mark Riffe

Associate Professor


Phone: 435-797-3896
Office Location: SER 222B
T. C. Shen

T. C. Shen



Phone: 435-797-7852
Office Location: SER 222C
Jan Sojka

Jan Sojka

Professor and Department Head


Phone: 435-797-2857
Office Location: SER 250A
Titus Yuan

Titus Yuan

Assistant Professor


Phone: 435-797-2959
Office Location: SER 318D