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Conducting Research at the Atlanta VA
Like all institutions, the Atlanta VA Medical Center has policies and procedures regulating the conduct of research at its facility. AREF helps researchers navigate these sometimes confusing rules governing studies at federal institutions.

The Science Information Office (SIO) and the Human Studies Analyst act as resources for investigators, study coordinators, and laboratory personnel during the design and implementation of your projects. We encourage you to utilize these members of our team should you have any questions or need guidance.
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Research Submissions

Overview | VA Biohazard Use

The Atlanta VA Subcommittee on Research Safety (SRS) is responsible for reviewing all research activities involving biological, chemical, physical, and radiation hazards for compliance with all applicable regulations, policies, and guidelines. This includes a review of all research applications for funding that will be conducted at the VA facility or by VA personnel with VA funding located off-site. This review includes a risk assessment of the facilities, level of containment, laboratory procedures, practices, training, and expertise of personnel involved in the specific research conducted including recombinant DNA research.

The Subcommittee on Research Safety is composed of Principal Investigators, laboratory technicians, the Director of Research Operations (ex officio), the Research & Development Administrative Officer (ex officio), the Research & Development Biosafety Officer, the Facility Radiation Safety Officer, the Facility Industrial Hygienist, the Infection Control Officer, the Institutional Veterinarian, and at least one member not affiliated with the VA Medical Center.

All research projects involving biological, chemical, physical, and radiation hazards must be approved by SRS and then by the R&D Committee prior to commencement. The SRS annually reviews all active research protocols involving biological, chemical, physical, and radiation hazards, regardless of funding status or source under an investigator's Laboratory Annual Self-Inspection Form (LASIF). The date of continuing review is based on the date of SRS approval of the laboratory, not exceeding one year from the date of the original project approval.

The SRS ensures that a complete list of all products containing chemicals designated or identified by OSHA and/or EPA as "hazardous" has been submitted to the Safety Officer for review and approval prior to the submission of a protocol for local review. It ensures the collection of appropriate personnel samples to make employee exposure determinations whenever the proposed use of laboratory chemicals may potentially exceed OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits or Action Levels. The Committee supervises the development of a policy for the preservation of employee medical and OSHA exposure records and environmental records (i.e., hazardous waste, air monitoring, etc.).

The Committee coordinates all safety-related activities in research laboratories including mandatory and non-mandatory training, safety inspections, accident reporting, and liaison activities with all facility safety committees and officials; to include: (a) coordinating follow-up evaluations to ensure that deficiencies cited during inspections are permanently and effectively abated, and (b) reporting follow-up results to the R&D Committee.

The SRS reports operational problems or violations of directives to the Research Safety Coordinator and the Research Office within 30 days of occurrence or detection, unless SRS determines that a report has been previously filed by the PI. The Committee also identifies the need for health surveillance of personnel involved in individual research projects; and if appropriate, advising R&D Committee and Employee Health Practitioner on the need for such surveillance.

The Subcommittee on Research Safety maintains documentation of all SRS or equivalent subcommittee activities forwards minutes to the Research Office, and ensures that all laboratory personnel receive annual research specific safety training. The Committee ensures coordination with other regulatory programs, personnel, or committees, such as the Radiation Safety Officer and/or Radiation Safety Committee.

Annual evaluations of the effectiveness of the laboratory's Chemical Hygiene Plan and necessary revisions are completed by the SRS. The Committee ensures the review of investigation reports of all lost-time injuries and all significant adverse environmental events, as well as the proper reporting of injury and illness trends to the R&D Committee, as appropriate. When appropriate, the SRS requests the appointment of an ad hoc committee consisting of members with appropriate expertise, to investigate and report on occupational injuries, illnesses, and adverse environmental events. The Committee cooperates with appropriate medical center personnel to review the quantity and type of hazardous waste generated by each PI annually. Finally, the SRS provides technical assistance in the reduction of the quantity of waste and/or recycling programs, where appropriate.

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