Public Safety and Risk Management Policies

Public Safety and Risk Management policies focus on topics related to general safety and security standards required across the university.

The intended audience for these policies includes students, faculty and staff.

Environmental Health

Lead-Based Paint (PDF) 

It is the policy of the university to identify potential lead-based paint (LBP) hazards, and to comply with applicable federal and local statutes and regulations regarding lead-based paint in buildings. This policy establishes general procedures for the identification, maintenance, accidental disturbance, and remediation of LBP in accordance with local and federal regulations.

Mercury, Asbestos, and Lead-Based Paint (PDF) 

Mercury, asbestos and lead-based materials have been determined to be a health hazard to the general public and dangerous when not properly used or confined. This Policy is to ensure compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws regarding the use or presence of mercury, asbestos and lead-based materials in university buildings.

Mold (PDF) 

It is the policy of George Washington University to recognize, evaluate and control the risk of exposure to mold and mold spores in university buildings. Members of the university community who observe or suspect the presence of mold in university buildings should immediately contact the Office of Health and Safety.

Recycling (PDF) 

The university is committed to protecting and improving the environment by recycling commonly used materials such as mixed paper, cardboard, plastic/glass containers, and aluminum/tin/steel cans (referred to as the “Commingled-Single Stream System”), scrap metals, hazardous materials such as batteries, electronic equipment, mercury-containing lamps, and motor/cooking oil. All members of the university must comply with the recycling requirements in this policy.

Smoke Free Policy (PDF) 

It is the policy of the university to promote a smoke-free environment in all university owned and managed buildings and owned and leased vehicles. It is also the policy of the university to promote a smoke-free environment at its Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon, and Virginia Science and Technology campuses generally, including in and on university owned outdoor spaces as well as on public space that abuts buildings in the Foggy Bottom campus that are used by the university for academic, athletic, recreational, residential, and administrative purposes.

Engine Idling (PDF) 

The George Washington University (GW) is committed to protecting the environment by adhering to the District of Columbia’s regulations regarding motor vehicle engine idling. No vehicle performing university business, whether owned or leased, should be allowed to idle for more than three (3) minutes. Any fines assessed against the university resulting from violation of this policy are the responsibility of the offending department.

General Safety

Adverse Weather (PDF) 

The president, or the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and executive vice president and treasurer together (or their designees), are the only representatives of the university who can authorize liberal leave, cancellation or delay of classes and activities, delayed opening, or closure of the university. In the event of adverse weather, members of the university community should utilize the information resources detailed in this policy to obtain information on the operating status for any GW location.

Closed Circuit Television Monitoring and Recording of Public Spaces (PDF) 

The George Washington University Police Department (GWPD), as well as other university emergency personnel, may use closed circuit television (CCTV) and recording to monitor public areas to deter crime and to assist in protecting the safety and security of persons and property. The use of television monitoring and recording activities will be restricted to common areas or highly sensitive areas where increased security is needed, in GW-owned, controlled or leased property (where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy). However, CCTV may be used as an investigatory technique under certain circumstances in the private office of a faculty/staff member, with his/her written consent.

Contractor Safety (PDF) 

Contractors performing work for the university must adhere to the established safety requirements and responsibilities summarized in this policy, and set forth more fully in the university’s Contractor Environmental Health and Safety Program.

Fire Prevention and Protection (PDF) 

Every member of the university community is responsible for assisting in the prevention and proper handling of fire hazards and for being familiar with the university’s Fire Prevention Plan. The Fire Prevention Plan outlines the university’s plan to promote fire safety and reduce the risk of fire-related incidents and injuries.

Key Control (PDF) 

It is the policy of the university to limit and tightly control the number of keys to university facilities and spaces. All keys to university facilities and spaces are the property of The George Washington University, and must be obtained and managed in accordance with this policy.

General Safety (PDF) 

It is the policy of George Washington University to maintain a healthy and safe workplace for the entire university community. The General Safety Program was developed to encourage employees to report unsafe conditions to their supervisor, as well as to inform employees of their workplace rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, (84 Stat.1590).

Laptop Computer and Small Electronics Theft Policy (PDF) 

Faculty and staff in possession of university owned electronic devices are responsible for the protection of that equipment from theft or damage. The high value and portability of laptop computers make them particularly susceptible to theft and require the highest degree of care. Reimbursement for a stolen university laptop computer or other small electronic device will only be considered if the laptop computer or electronic device is taken from a locked desk, cabinet, closet, or office, the item was secured by using a locking cable, and there are signs of forced entry (i.e. burglary).

Laser Safety (PDF) 

Each department that acquires or operates lasers for use in laboratories or research is responsible for reporting laser acquisition to the Office of Laboratory Safety, selecting a departmental deputy laser safety officer, mandating training for its laser operators in operational and safety practices, and for following the guidelines and requirements set forth in the university’s Laser Safety Manual.

Protection of Minors (PDF) 

The university is committed to the safety and well-being of all members of its community, including minor children. This policy establishes guidelines and procedures to promote the protection of minors. The university expects all members of the university community to adhere to and act in accordance with this policy.

Vehicle Safety (PDF) 

It is the policy of the university that all University-Owned, Leased or Rented Vehicles be operated in a safe and responsible manner in accordance with local and federal regulations, that all operators possess a valid driver’s license from a U.S. state or territory, and that all operators follow the requirements and procedures set forth in the university’s Vehicle Safety Policy.

Hazardous Material

Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (PDF) 

It is the policy of The George Washington University to communicate the elements of the Control of Hazardous Energy Program (also known as the Lockout/Tagout Program) to all applicable employees and to expect those employees to read and understand the information presented in this program. It is the intent of the university to provide this program not only to employees, but also to university contractors. This program was developed to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations (29 CFR 1910.147).

Electronic Equipment Recycling (PDF) 

It is the policy of The George Washington University to either recycle or properly dispose of electronic equipment in a manner that removes any information from that equipment consistent with the university’s commitment to information security, while protecting the general environment from the potentially hazardous materials contained in certain electronic equipment components.

Hazard Communication (PDF) 

The George Washington University provides information to members of the university community about hazardous chemicals by means of a hazard communication program, labels, and other forms of warning, safety data sheets, information and training.

Hazardous Waste Management (PDF) 

Employees who generate, handle, store, transport or dispose of hazardous wastes are responsible for following the guidelines and procedures set forth in the university’s Hazardous Waste Management Program.

Mercury Containing Lamps (PDF) 

It is the policy of the university to protect members of the university community from injuries as a result of mercury-containing lamps and to manage the use and disposal of mercury-containing lamps in accordance with hazardous waste disposal requirements and the university’s Mercury-Containing Lamp Program.


Lab Safety

Animal Care and Use (PDF) 

The George Washington University (GW) requires the highest standards of humane care and use of laboratory animals in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, accreditation standards, policies and procedures. Vertebrate animals may be used in research, testing or teaching only with the prior approval of the GW Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

Chemical Hygiene (Laboratory Safety) (PDF)

Departments operating laboratories containing potentially hazardous chemicals are required to appoint a Chemical Hygiene Officer (CHO) to implement the guidance provided in the university’s Chemical Hygiene Plan. Activities for the CHO include adoption of general departmental precautions and guidelines for safe use of chemicals and the oversight and instruction for personnel on proper laboratory procedures. People using laboratories are responsible for knowing the Chemical Hygiene Plan and attending annual laboratory safety training.

Use of Radioactive Materials (PDF) 

It is the policy of the university to comply with all federal and local regulations, as well as the terms of the license granted to GW by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), when ordering, receiving, storing, handling, transferring or disposing of any radioactive material (RAM). Any activity involving RAM must comply with the regulations of the NRC, the university’s Radiation Safety Policies for Use of Radioactive Material in Research - Authorized User Manual and this policy.

Use of rDNA in Research (PDF) 

Any research or academic activity involving Recombinant DNA (rDNA) must be approved in advance by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), and must comply with the guidelines published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the university’s Biosafety Manual and this policy.


Occupational Safety

Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control (PDF) 

It is the policy of the university to provide a safe and healthy work environment, and to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030).

Ergonomics (PDF) 

It is the policy of the George Washington University to improve the comfort and well-being of employees by identifying and correcting ergonomic risk factors in the workplace. The university’s Ergonomic Program was developed to effectively identify and prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders through engineering, equipment, proper work practices, and administrative controls.

Permit-Required Confined Space (PDF) 

It is the policy of The George Washington University to protect all employees from toxic, explosive, or asphyxiating atmospheres, and from engulfment or entrapment while working in and around confined spaces. The Confined Space Entry Program details the procedures and training that GW will utilize in complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permit-Required Confined Space Standard (29 CFR 1910.146).

Personal Protective Equipment (PDF) 

The university requires that all employees use appropriate personal protective equipment (including eye, face, foot, hand, and head protection) as required by particular job function, and complete training in the usage, maintenance, and applicability of protective equipment.

Power Tool Safety (PDF) 

Departments that utilize hand and power tools are responsible for implementing a safety-training program that includes shop regulations, tool inventories, required training, and regular power tool inspection and maintenance. All users of power tools must complete applicable training and follow the safety requirements of this policy.

Respiratory Protection (PDF) 

It is the policy of the university to support the protection of employees from respiratory injury as a result of working with harmful dusts, fumes, gases, vapors, and other hazardous airborne substances, and to promote respiratory safety through the use of engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment as detailed in the university’s Respiratory Protection Program.

Welding, Cutting and Brazing (Hot Work) Safety (PDF) 

Employees performing cutting and welding operations (commonly referred to as “hot work”), as well as their supervisors, are required to be suitably trained in the safe operation of the equipment used, and must follow the procedures set forth in the university’s Welding, Cutting, and Brazing Safety Program.