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Access to Employee Exposure Records

The Office of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety (EHRS) monitors employee exposure to toxic substances and harmful physical agents. EHRS maintains employee exposure records. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standard, "Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records" (29CFR1910.1020) permits access to employer-maintained exposure and medical records by employees or their designated representative and by OSHA.

University employees may obtain a copy of their exposure record by calling EHRS at (215) 898-4453 or by e-mail:

Hazard Communication Program

The University of Pennsylvania's Hazard Communication Program consists of information regarding access to Material Safety Data Sheets, proper labeling of hazardous chemicals, and the hazard communication training programs required for all employees who handle hazardous chemicals as part of their work.

Penn's written Hazard Communication Program is available in the Office of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety, 3160 Chestnut Street Suite 400/6287. A library of material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for hazardous chemicals used at the University is on file at EHRS. An MSDS describes the physical and chemical properties of a product, health hazards and routes of exposure, precautions for safe handling and use, emergency procedures, reactivity data, and control measures. Many MSDSs are also available on the web ( Copies of MSDSs for products used in all non-research areas are also maintained at each zone office.

Laboratory workers should refer to Penn's Chemical Hygiene Plan ( for additional information concerning the safe handling of chemicals in laboratories.

University employees may obtain an MSDS by calling EHRS at (215) 898-4453 or by e-mail:

Free Thermometer Exchange

The breakage of mercury thermometers is one of the most common accidents in research labs. Although mercury thermometers are not harmful when used properly, they pose a threat to human health and the environment when broken.

The Office of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety (EHRS) strongly recommends the selection of less potentially hazardous alternatives when purchasing new or replacement thermometers. For most lab applications spirit filled thermometers offer the same temperature measuring performance as mercury containing thermometers. There are also other alternatives to consider when less or higher temperature sensing accuracy is required.

Comparison of Alternatives to Traditional Mercury Thermometers
Type Hazard Cost Accuracy
Spirit filled No Same Same
Alcohol filled No Same Less
Microprocessor No Higher Higher *
Teflon coated mercury Less Slightly higher Same

* May be read to more significant digits and is easier to read

Teflon will usually contain mercury if thermometer is broken

Alternative thermometers are available from the Chemistry Department Stockroom and lab equipment suppliers such as Fisher Scientific.

Free Exchange

While supplies last, EHRS is sponsoring a mercury thermometer exchange program. The program is designed to collect and replace--for free--potentially hazardous mercury thermometers with environmentally friendly ones. EHRS can exchange Total Immersion thermometers

(-20° to 110° C and -20° to 150° C). Contact Bob Rovinsky at or call (215) 898-4453.

The following training programs are required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania DEP, for all employees who work with hazardous substances including: chemicals, human blood, blood products, fluids, human tissue and radioactive materials. All training courses presented by the Office of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety (EHRS). Attendance is required at one or more session, depending upon the employee's potential exposures. Check the EHRS website for additional information concerning course descriptions and requirements.

Introduction to Laboratory Safety at Penn (Chemical Hygiene Training): February 6, 9:30 a.m., BRBII/III, Auditorium.

Introduction to Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens: February 7, 9:30 a.m., BRB II/III, Auditorium.

Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens (In a clinical setting): This program is available on-line at Intended for employees with direct patient contact, or those who handle clinical specimens, and administrators who routinely work in a clinical environment.

Laboratory Safety--Annual Update: February 20, 9:30 a.m., BRB II/III, Room 252

Laboratory Safety and Bloodborne Pathogens--Annual Update: February 21, 9:30 a.m., BRB II/III, Auditorium.

Radiation Safety Training: training can be completed on the web-site ( See on-line training, radiation safety programs.

If you have any questions, please call Kishana Carter at (215) 898-4453.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 21, February 5, 2002


February 5, 2002
Volume 48 Number 21

The first Neal Nathanson Lecture will be given next week by Dr. Stanley Prusiner, Nobel Laureate and Penn alumnus.
After four years at the helm of the College House Program, Dr. David Brownlee steps down as director and turns over the wheel to a fellow faculty master.
When is Spring Recess? Well, now it is Spring Break--at least on the Academic Calendar--to be consistent with Fall Break.
Mix more than a dozen committees, a multi-year timeline, five institutional goals, six academic priorities, and several organizational priorities and the result is a new Strategic Plan which will soon be published For Comment.
The Council Committee on Communications reports on its findings from a one-year review of the Policy on Privacy in the Electronic Environment.
Improving pedestrian safety is a multi-step challenge.
Environmental Health and Radiation Safety offers information, thermometer exchange, and training for employees who handle hazardous substances.
Researchers make discoveries concerning King Midas, kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, immune system and major depressive disorder.
The University Research Foundation's latest awards go to 48 projects--from The Art of Urbanism in Feudal Aquitaine to Evaluating a Hospital Quality Improvement Model for Developing Countries.
Discounted tickets are available to attend Annenberg Center events and a Basketball Game at the Palestra.
Penn Public Safety Institute provides the community with a glimpse of police work from behind-the-scenes; the next program begins tomorrow. Apply now.