Safety Policies

Human Subjects Review Committee (HSRC)

The task of the Human Subjects Review Committee is to protect the rights and welfare of people serving as research subjects for Williams College faculty and students. This committee acts as an Institutional Review Board (IRB) for all projects involving human subjects. Investigators proposing such research must submit for evaluation by the IRB a project description and copies of the consent forms that the subjects are asked to sign. Sufficient time must be allowed for the IRB to reach a decision. The Human Subjects Review Committee usually consists of Williams faculty and two members of the local community, one of whom is usually an attorney.

Institutional Biosafety Committee

The Biosafety Committee monitors activities at Williams College specifically dealing with recombinant DNA research, in accordance with the guidelines set by the Department of Health and Human Services in the Federal Register. It reviews proposals from project directors, sets standards for containment protocols, and inspects facilities where recombinant DNA research is being conducted. The committee is composed of two members of the Williams science faculty, a member of the Williams staff, and usually an attorney and a physician as representatives of the local community.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee is an oversight committee mandated by federal regulations. The committee is composed of at least five members, among whom must be a person not connected with the college, a veterinarian, and at least one scientist whose research involves animals. The IACUC meets semi-annually and at other times as needed. The committee acts immediately upon all proposals submitted to it. The functions of the IACUC include:

  • reviewing annually the college’s program for humane care and use of animals inspecting annually all of the college’s animal facilities
  • bringing about any changes in procedures or facilities necessary to rectify deficiencies found during reviews
  • reviewing any concerns involving the care and use of animals at the college
  • making recommendations to the pertinent College official(s) regarding the animal program, animal facilities, or training for those involved with handling animals
  • reviewing the use of animals in course laboratory programs
  • reviewing all research grant proposals submitted to federal agencies either to approve them, approve them with requested modifications, or reject them if there are significant issues or problems involving animal welfare
  • reviewing all proposed significant changes regarding the use of animals in ongoing research projects, either to approve them, approve them with requested modifications, or withhold approval
  • suspending an ongoing research project involving animals that is not in accord with rules set forth by the NIH

(Significant portions of this description have been taken from the college’s “Animal Welfare Assurance Statement,” which is on file with the NIH.)

Radiation Safety Committee

The Radiation Safety Committee is responsible for over-seeing the safe use of radiation-emitting devices and substances on campus. These include radioactive substances, lasers, and x-ray emitting devices that are used for research and teaching purposes. The committee ensures that the use of radioactive substances on campus complies with the provisions of the license issued to the college by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and that work involving lasers and x-ray units complies with the regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. All users of radioactive materials, whether from a sealed or unsealed source, must report use of these materials to the Chair of the Radiation Safety Committee.

Members of the committee include the college’s radiation safety officer and all members of the faculty and staff using radioactive materials.

Safety Committee

The Safety Committee is responsible for the compliance by Williams College with a number of state and federal laws on safety issues. The immediate concern of the committee is those regulations dealing with involuntary exposure to hazardous materials, especially exposure by those who do not control the substance being used. The committee meets to review labeling, training, use, storage, and disposal techniques used by all College departments that deal with hazardous materials.

The Chemical Hygiene Officer supervises the temporary storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals for both academic and service departments. The committee is composed of the chemical Hygiene Officer and at least one representative of each department that uses hazardous materials for any purpose: teaching, research, or routine maintenance.

Bloodborne Pathogens

Williams College is responsible for identifying employees who might be at risk because of their position. The College is required to provide awareness training for exposure to blood containing Hepatitis B virus infections. Through OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) we are required to follow 29 CFR Part 1910.1030 to address occupational exposures to these bloodborne pathogens.

Notice to New Employees