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Volunteers & Minors

Guidelines for Minors and Volunteers in University Laboratories or Makerspaces

The University is committed to providing a healthy and safe environment for all community members, including minors and volunteers pursuing activities in laboratories and other instructional environments where there is potential exposure to hazardous materials (e.g. hazardous chemicals, biological agents, radioactive materials) and/or hazardous equipment (e.g. lasers, power-driven machinery). Minors in particular may be more susceptible to effects of certain hazardous materials, and may be less aware and too inexperienced to recognize potential risks and hazards. To assist managers who are considering recruiting volunteers, Environmental Health & Safety has developed guidance on volunteers handling hazardous materials and/or equipment in accordance with local, state and/or federal regulations, University policy, and University Safety Committees. Departments and schools may impose additional restrictions not detailed here (e.g. live laboratory animal work). Managers who are considering sponsoring volunteers should refer to the University policy HRM-001: Authorization of Volunteers in the Work Place for all University requirements for engaging volunteers.

Who is considered a minor for purposes of these guidelines?

A minor is an individual under 18 years of age. Matriculated University of Virginia students engaged in activities for credit may be exempt from prohibited activities on a case-by-case basis.

Process for Documenting Volunteer and Minor Engagement

Sponsoring Managers wishing to engage volunteers, including minors, in activities with potential exposure to hazardous materials and/or equipment must first complete the Volunteer Terms of Service form available from the Office of Property & Liability Risk Management, and confirm activities align with permissible activities for volunteers and minors, as outlined below.

Restrictions for Minors

The University strongly discourages minors from unnecessary potential exposure to hazardous materials, environments (e.g., requiring use of respirators, fall protection, hearing protection) and/or equipment which have the potential to cause serious injury, illness, or death. Additionally, local, state and/or federal regulations, University policy, and University Safety Committees explicitly prohibit minors from potential exposure to certain hazardous materials and/or equipment:

  • Biosafety Level 2 contained materials (under age 16)
  • Biosafety Level 3 contained materials, including Select Agents and Toxins
  • Radioactive materials or ionizing radiation sources
  • OSHA Particularly Hazardous Substances (carcinogens, reproductive toxins, high acute toxicity (LD50 ≤50 mg/kg))
  • Highly hazardous chemicals (e.g., pyrophorics, hydrofluoric acid, explosives)
  • Hazard class 3b or 4 laser
  • Hazardous equipment1 (e.g., power-driven woodworking equipment, circular saws, high voltage equipment)
Restrictions for Volunteers

The University strongly discourages volunteers from conducting unnecessary activities involving potential exposure to hazardous materials and/or equipment. Volunteers are prohibited from conducting activities involving potential exposure to:

  1. radioactive materials unless explicitly approved by the Radiation Safety Committee
  2. biological agents requiring biosafety level 3 containment unless explicitly approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee
Training for Minors and Volunteers

Minors and Volunteers are required to complete EHS safety training based on the hazardous material, environment and/or equipment they are working with. They must also receive and have documented hazard-specific training from their Sponsoring Manager. Applicable EHS training modules the individual may be required to complete prior to beginning activity include:

For a full list of available EHS modules, visit the training webpage.

1Hazardous equipment includes all hazardous equipment/machines explicitly listed or categorized in 16VAC15-30-10. Hazardous Occupations (e.g. power-driven woodworking machines, circular saws, band saws, mills); all equipment in Hazard Class Level 4 found in UVA Environmental Health and Safety’s Hazard Classifications For Shop Equipment & Injury Prevention Measures; Additionally, minors age 14-15 are prohibited from potential exposure to any power-driven machinery per 16VAC15-30-220.

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