CfA Safety: Services
  • Environmental Management. The CfA Safety Office has implemented a hazardous waste disposal program. It includes hazardous waste removal from Main Accumulation Areas (MAAs) and periodic inspections of those areas to insure compliance with EPA regulations.
  • Hearing Conservation. Industrial operations and work areas are evaluated upon request to determine noise levels. When noise levels exceed Smithsonian or Harvard standards, the Safety Office will recommend engineering controls or hearing protection as appropriate.
  • Safety Inspections. In compliance with S. I. requirements, the CfA Safety Office and the Safety Committees each perform semi-annual inspections of the CfA. The results of these inspections are sent to the P.I.s, their Division or Department Heads, the Director of the CfA and to the Office of Environmental Management and Safety (OEMS) at the S.I. In addition, OEMS performs an inspection of the facility once a year; the results of this inspection go to the CfA Safety Office, the Director, P.I.'s, their Division/Department Heads. The CfA Safety Office is available for help with questions or suggestions for methods of compliance.
  • Safety Evaluations, Monitoring. The CfA Safety Office performs safety evaluations and monitoring upon request or at need. Evaluations include, but are not limited to sound levels, asbestos, hazardous substance exposure, indoor air quality, and ergonomics. The CfA Safety Office is also available for information and advice concerning new procedures, equipment, chemicals, etc.
  • Lab Safety Manual. The CfA Lab Safety Manual has been developed by the CfA Safety Office and the Lab Safety Committee and had been distributed to the labs by the CfA Safety Office. It contains information about recommended safety procedures and responsibilities specific to the CfA labs. Copies are also available through the CfA Safety Office.
  • Eyewash Program. The CfA Safety Office is available to help labs and shops decide when eyewashes are needed and where they should be placed. Eyewashes are inspected twice a year by the Safety Committees and CfA Safety Office.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets. Any lab or other area which has hazardous substances is required to maintain access to Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each substance; the MSDSs must be available to every person working with the substances at any time. Binders containing appropriate MSDSs have been distributed to the labs. Available on the web, MSDSs are also available upon request from the Safety Office.
  • Laser Safety. The Laser Safety Officer (Sid Paula) performs laser evaluations and training. Safety information is available through the CfA Safety Office.
  • Lab Renovation Services. The CfA Safety Office is available to review safety considerations in lab areas scheduled for renovation. The Lab Safety Committee requests that all P.I.'s in such areas contact the CfA Safety Office before a renovation to ensure that hazardous substances are removed properly, that the spaces are cleaned out safely and renovated with safety considerations in mind.
  • Lockout/Tagout Program. The CfA Lockout/Tagout Program details safety requirements for working with potentially hazardous energy sources. It is designed to protect employees who service or maintain machines or equipment from risk of injury due to the unexpected startup, energization or release of stored energy from machinery. Available on the web, copies of the program have also been distributed and are available from the CfA Safety Office.
  • Respiratory Protection. Each employee whose duties require working in atmospheres containing hazardous levels of toxic gases, vapors, fumes, or dust is enrolled in the Smithsonian's respiratory protection program. This program includes a health evaluation; respirator fit testing, selection, and training; and monitoring of the work area to evaluate changing conditions. Employees in this program are required to use and maintain the respirators when performing duties. Monitoring to determine whether there is a need for a respirator is available through the CfA Safety Office.
  • Radiation Safety. Employees who are exposed to radioactive materials while performing their duties receive education and training regarding health risks and are enrolled in a personal dosimetry program to monitor exposures. The radiation safety program also includes the management of radioactive waste and ensures compliance with regulations governing the possession and use of radioisotopes. For information about this program, please contact the Safety Office.
  • Employee Complaints. The CfA Safety Office responds to reports of unhealthful conditions, and the supervisor answers questions concerning hazardous properties of materials in the work area. Poor indoor air quality, chemical hazards, and asbestos hazards are examples of some of the issues that the CfA Safety Office investigates. Anyone with a safety complaint can fill out a Safety Complaint Form or email the Safety Office at
  • Fire Protection. The CfA Safety Office develops fire protection programs, policies, and procedures that are designed to prevent fires and help minimize the effect of a fire should one occur. Fire protection activities include reviewing building plans to ensure adequate life safety and fire protection systems are provided, evaluating research operations for fire protection measures, conducting and evaluating semi-annual fire drills, providing fire extinguisher training, conducting annual building surveys, and evaluating flammable and combustible materials to ensure they are safely handled and stored. Employee fire protection programs include monitoring fire protection, running and evaluating fire drills at CfA facilities, and providing fire protection training upon request.
  • Safety Training. Courses that cover such topics as hazard communication, lab safety, hazardous waste, and ergonomics are conducted regularly. Other special emphasis training (back injury prevention, chemical spill response, laser safety, fire protection) is conducted when requested. The courses are offered on site through the CfA Safety Office. Safety films are also available from Harvard and S.I. covering a variety of safety topics and are available on loan through the CfA Safety Office.
  • Safety Glasses, Goggles and Shields. Laboratory workers are examples of Smithsonian employees required to wear eye protection while working. The CfA Safety Office is available for advice concerning whether eye protection is needed, and if so, what kind. Face shields, goggles, or welder's goggles, when needed, are provided by the worker's Department or Division. Where infrequent exposure to eye hazards occur, supervisors may provide safety goggles for temporary use, in place of safety glasses.
  • Safety Shoes. The CfA Safety Office coordinates the employee safety shoe program, providing assistance to Supervisors in determining which employees need safety shoes. Employees who handle heavy objects during at least 10 percent of their daily work tour must wear safety shoes.

The Smithsonian considers employee and visitor safety an important part of the operation of our facilities. This list has covered only a portion of the programs and activities that the Office of Environmental Management and Safety and the CfA Safety Office provide in an effort to ensure all employees and visitors are provided a safe and healthful environment.

All concerns and suggestions regarding safety, occupational health, fire protection/prevention, and environmental issues at the CfA should be addressed to the CfA Safety Office.


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