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Employee / Occupational Safety

Outline of topics found on this page.


Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) is available for workplace safety consultation regarding any unsafe conditions that employees believe exists within the University.

Environmental Health & Safety combines experts from disciplines such as Chemistry, Biosafety, Radiation Safety, Ergonomics, Asbestos, Industrial Hygiene, Fire, Environmental Science, Lasers, and Nanotechnology. To promote our goal of a safe and healthy environment for employees, faculty, students, visitors, and patients, we measure, evaluate, and respond to hazards in the University community. Environmental Health & Safety’s programs and services are aimed at reducing risks to University personnel with emphasis on personal responsibility and environmentally sound management.

As part of every employee’s annual job evaluation in the Employee Work Profile, the University has established a requirement that employees must use safe work practices while carrying out the responsibilities of their jobs. While employees must take responsibility for their safety and use good judgment while performing their jobs, management has primary responsibility for ensuring a safe working environment. Final responsibility for health and safety policies and programs rests with the President of the University, who has delegated some of these tasks to appointed safety committees.

EHS may assist by:

The Scene Shop in the Drama Department utilizes many work processes which require safety training: carpentry, spray painting, chemical handling, welding, and material handling.



(UVa Policy ID:SEC-019)

The activities required to institute a comprehensive and University-wide health and safety program may be divided into nine categories: (1) standard setting; (2) coordination activities; (3) auditing; (4) reporting; (5) monitoring; (6) policy development; (7) expansion of existing programs; (8) development of new programs; and (9) enforcement. This delineation of activities into nine types does not suggest that each type of activity be addressed separately. Indeed, all components of a coordinated health and safety program must be addressed simultaneously.

While every person has responsibility for his or her personal well-being, the primary responsibility for providing a healthful and safe working environment rests with line management. Management’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: ensuring that employees are trained; developing and maintaining standard operating procedures; and providing necessary safety equipment. Moreover, except for some broadly defined, University-wide services such as landscaping, heating, police, etc., the cost of maintaining a healthful and safe working environment shall fall on the department or unit under whose auspices a particular activity is being conducted.

In order to assist with the above noted 9 activities, EHS will:

  1. Provide guidance and technical assistance to the units;
  2. Develop and implement institution-wide policies regarding health and safety;
  3. Offer training programs to all University employees regarding safe and healthy work practices;
  4. Aid all units in keeping abreast of regulatory and legal requirements regarding health and safety and then act as a resource for all units of the University in developing programs to meet those regulations; and

While the University’s health and safety policies will be developed by EHS, and while that office also will audit and monitor the University’s adherence to those policies, the enforcement function (with two exceptions) will remain the responsibility of the administrators of each unit. Those exceptions are:

  1. The administration of the University's licenses from the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Radiological Health; and
  2. Extreme emergencies wherein the Director of Environmental Health & Safety (or deputy director) judges that a particular situation is causing clear and present serious danger to life and/or property.

Thus, the staff of EHS should be seen principally as a coordinating, standard setting, auditing and service organization rather than an enforcer of regulations.

Only employees who are certified to drive fork-lifts are allowed to operate University equipment.



All University activities shall be conducted using reasonable precautions to protect employees, students, the public and the environment so as to minimize dangers to life, safety and property. The University regards its responsibility for providing a healthful and safe working environment for its faculty, staff and students to be a high priority.

To provide reasonable assurance that the health and safety of all individuals on properties controlled or managed by the University are maintained:

  1. Safety standards will be adopted and/or developed for all applicable University activities, including the management of hazardous substances;
  2. Faculty, staff and students will be trained to recognize hazards regarding those standards and to employ safe work practices;
  3. Periodic audits will be conducted to determine compliance with the published standards including those contained in local, state and federal laws and regulations regarding health and safety. Appropriate correction will be prescribed where necessary and the response monitored to assure compliance;
  4. A set of possible emergency situations will be identified and appropriate emergency response procedures will be established.
  5. Injuries and accidents will be reported;
  6. A health insurance program will be provided and availability of employment-related health services will be assured.

In those cases where violations are detected and where a unit administrator does not respond as advised, EHS shall, at the Director’s discretion, appeal its recommendations through the appropriate Vice President, and if necessary, all the way to the President. Similarly, units which disagree with the counsel of EHS may also appeal those decisions to the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. In cases where, in the judgment of the Director, there is a clear and present serious danger to the health and/or safety of an employee or to University property, the Director shall have the authority to issue cease and desist orders, which may be appealed after they have been obeyed, as indicated above.

Policies are designed to make individuals aware of any potential hazards, and of the precautions to be taken to protect their health and physical well-being.

UVa Safety Policies can be accessed here.

Proper lifting techniques protect Housing employees from sustaining back injuries.

Virginia-Specific Rules


What is a State OSHA Program?

SEC. 18. of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 (the Act) encourages States to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs. OSHA approves and monitors State plans and provides up to 50 percent of an approved plan's operating costs.

Virginia is one of the current 22 States and jurisdictions operating complete State plans (covering both the private sector and State and local government employees) and 4 - Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and the Virgin Islands - which cover public employees only.

States must set job safety and health standards that are "at least as effective as" comparable federal standards. (Most States adopt standards identical to federal ones.) States have the option to promulgate standards covering hazards not addressed by federal standards.

A State must conduct inspections to enforce its standards, cover public (State and local government) employees, and operate occupational safety and health training and education programs. In addition, most States provide free on-site consultation to help employers identify and correct workplace hazards. Such consultation may be provided either under the plan or through a special agreement under section 21(d) of the Act.

To check OSHA regulations go to the OSHA website

Virginia-Specific Rules

The State Plan agreement between the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor and Virginia gives the Commonwealth authority to regulate occupational safety and health within its jurisdiction for General Industry, Construction, Agriculture, and the Public Sector.

The Safety and Health Codes Board has adopted occupational safety and health standards for enforcement by the Department of Labor and Industry. Virginia Code Section 40.1-1 provides that the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry be responsible for administering and enforcing occupational safety and health activities within the Commonwealth.  Within the Department, regulation of Virginia occupational safety and health falls under the purview of the VOSH (Virginia Occupational Safety and Health) Program.

The vast majority of the Virginia occupational safety and health standards are identical to federal OSHA standards.  However, there are several standards that are unique to Virginia and can be accessed by clicking here . They are unique in the sense that federal OSHA either does not have a comparable standard or, if it does, it differs substantively and has been superceded by the unique Virginia standard.

Inspection Priorities

VOSH's top priority for inspection is an imminent danger - a situation where workers face an immediate risk of death or serious physical harm. Second priority goes to any fatality or catastrophe - an accident that requires hospitalization of three or more workers. Employers are required to report fatalities and catastrophes to VOSH within eight hours.

Third priority is employee complaints and referrals. Lower inspection priorities include inspections targeted toward high hazard industries, planned inspections in other industries and, finally, follow-up inspections to determine whether previously cited violations have been abated.

How does VOSH Respond to Complaints?

There are two ways that VOSH can respond to a complaint. VOSH can either perform an on-site inspection or an off-site investigation, also known as a "phone/fax investigation."

For more State information, check out the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s website.

Workers Compensation


The purpose of the Workers' Compensation program is to coordinate and manage claims relating to work injuries sustained by University employees. University policy and procedures can also provide guidance, especially in areas, such as time, leave and payroll issues.

Workers Compensation: Procedures for Supervisors and Employees:

There are 5 basic actions that must be taken when an employee is injured:

  1. Employees must report an accident to their supervisor or their representative within 48 hours. All faculty, staff, and students who receive wages from UVa are covered. Step-by-step instructions can be found here.

  3. DO NOT go to your Primary Care Physician or your claim may be denied. Employees must select a physician from the UVa list of Panel Physicians for medical treatment.

  5. The supervisor must immediately contact Linda Coiner in the University Human Resources Department, at 924-8939 or email at As of July 1, 2008, telephonic reporting will no longer be available by calling Managed Care Innovations. This step must be done to guarantee WC claim benefits; the physician DOES NOT file the Workers Comp claim.

  7. If the approved Panel Physician writes a prescription for the employee, the employee should take it to a participating First Script pharmacy.

  9. To expedite filling your prescription it is best to take a copy of the Workers Compensation First Script Pharmacy Card. First Script operates with the use of a generic pharmacy card, which your attending physician will give you if you receive a prescription.

After the Accident

Accident Investigation

All accidents resulting in injury, regardless of severity, should be investigated by the departmental Safety Manager and/or the supervisor of the injured employee to determine ways to improve safety and prevent similar accidents from occurring.

Restricted Duty? The employee must obtain a Return To Work Status Form from the workers' compensation panel physician and fax it to Linda Coiner at 434-924-4486 in order for any period of disability to be listed as Workers' Compensation leave. The University’s Return to Work Policy can be found here.

Employee’s Own Leave Time? If the employee is given a work excuse from his/her panel physician, the first 7 calendar days that the employee is excused from work must be covered by the employee’s own leave time.  Workers Comp does not kick in until after the 7th calendar day.

Still Getting Bills? Call UVa Workers Compensation Coordinator, Linda Coiner at 434-924-8939.

Denied Claim? In case the injury is not approved as being work-related, the employee’s own medical insurance should cover the amount above the employee’s regular co-pay amount.

Appeals? Employees can seek further appeal to the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission if they believe the claim should be compensated as a work place accident.

Each state has its own laws concerning Workers Compensation. In Virginia, the laws are covered by the Code of Virginia Workers Compensation Act.

Types Of Injuries Included Under The Act

Employees are entitled to receive compensation for an "injury by accident" or an "occupational disease".

In order to be covered, an "accident" must:

  1. Occur at work or during a work-related function,
  2. Be caused by a specific work activity, and
  3. Happen suddenly at a specific time. (Injuries incurred gradually or from repetitive trauma are not covered, although certain diseases caused by repetitive trauma are covered.)

In order to be covered, a disease must:

  1. Be caused by the work.
  2. Not be a disease of the back, neck, or spinal column.

To see particulars about the Code of Virginia which covers the Act, see § 65.2-900, records and reports of accidents.

You can view the Code of Virginia Title 65.2 - WORKERS' COMPENSATION here.



The web links listed below are provided so that employees may research questions according to general interest topics. For additional assistance, feel free to call Environmental Health & Safety at 434-982-4911 for interpretation of regulations or advice.

UVa Policies on Health and Safety
UVa/FM Service Request (use to report a problem)

Americans with Disabilities Act
American Industrial Hygiene Association
American National Standards Institute
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Centers for Disease Control
Compressed Gas Association
Department of Energy
Environmental, Health, and Safety Online
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Transportation
Environmental Protection Agency
National Fire Protection Agency
National Institute of Health
Nuclear Regulatory Committee
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Virginia Department of Labor and Industry
Virginia Department of Human Resource Management
Virginia Workers Compensation Commission

Many useful Safety Resources can be downloaded from the Commonwealth of Virginia website and from the National Safety Council.