CLASSE Safety Handbook

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Cornell University Health and Safety Policy

Cornell University strives to maintain a safe living, learning and working environment. Faculty, staff, students, and other members of the Cornell community must conduct university operations in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations, University Health and Safety Board requirements, and other university health and safety standards. The full Cornell University statement applicable to health and safety policies and related responsibilities is Policy 8.6 (pdf).

CLASSE Safety Committee

Safety administration for all CLASSE activities is the responsibility of the CLASSE Safety Committee (membership). A minimum of seven votes is required to implement new policy, and full consensus of those present for such decisions is desirable. This body has a chair, Safety Director, and key representatives from many facets of the Laboratory. The CHESS User Safety Subcommittee (membership) manages safety policy and procedures for CHESS operations and reports on its deliberations and decisions to the CLASSE Safety Committee.

From the Director

Ritchie.JPG Achieving a safe work environment is extremely important, and requires diligence from each one of us. The CLASSE Safety Handbook describes the potential hazards in our laboratory and summarizes the policies and procedures that have been worked out for our protection and for the protection of our environment. It is important that each of us be familiar with the Handbook and observe its rules and recommendations, for our own safety as well as for the sake of coworkers affected by our actions. Please, after you have studied this Handbook (full version on web), bookmark it in your web browser or keep a printed version for convenient reference. If any special hazards in your work area are not dealt with completely in this Handbook, please get more complete information from your supervisor or the CLASSE Safety Director.

Ritchie Patterson, Director of CLASSE

Scope of Handbook

This CLASSE Safety Handbook is for the use of employees, faculty, students, and visitors of LEPP and CHESS during their work in any of the CLASSE facilities at Cornell University. This Handbook acts as a guide to the basic principles of working safely in these environments, and should be consulted before any potentially hazardous activity is undertaken. New personnel are required to attend an in-person, CLASSE-specific Basic Safety Training session prior to commencing work. There are also online and/or in-person trainings required by Cornell University policy. Short-term visitors should acquaint themselves with this Handbook as well as request guidance from their local host for further information.

IWantYou.jpgWe strive to establish a culture of safety, which entails much more than simply compliance with a set of rules. A culture of safety is embodied by the following practices:
  • Each of us takes responsibility for our own safety and that of people we work with, supervise, or host.
  • Safety is valued on par with (or above) scientific achievement and/or task completion.
  • Safety concerns are always taken seriously and addressed.
  • Safety challenges are approached with intellectual rigor.
  • New activities are planned from the start with safety in mind.
  • New participants receive relevant safety training immediately & are inculcated with the values of a positive safety culture.
  • Every person values and strives for continuous improvement of laboratory safety

No one is an expert on all situations, but it is likely that a knowledgeable opinion is only a phone call or web-search away. If you are unsure as to policy, practice, procedure, or other safety-related issue, do not hesitate to seek guidance from your supervisor, one of the CLASSE safety resource personnel, the CLASS Safety Director, or Cornell University Environmental Health and Safety (or the email service Ask EH&S).

A note of caution: this document attempts to accurately convey and reflect CLASSE safety policy where rules are listed or imperatives ("must") are used; however, it is not the basis nor source of such policy. Policy is the purview of Federal and NY State agencies, Cornell University, the CLASSE Laboratory Director, and the CLASSE Safety Committee.


According to, "Safety-first as an accident-prevention slogan first used in Britain in 1873" and may have originated with the US railroads.

According to a Letter to the Editor of the New York Times on Sept. 28, 1915 from Arthur Williams, then President of the American Museum of Safety, the "first organized work in accident prevention in this country was done in 1900 through the Museum of Safety Section of the American Institute of Social Service" (Copyright, The New York Times).

OSHA was founded in 1970.

How to Use this Handbook

This Handbook not only has internal links for cross-referencing terms and concepts (including links to entries in the Glossary), but also has hidden content (absent in most printed versions of this document) that can be expanded by clicking on the appropriate this hidden content does not appear in the printed version unless expanded . Likewise, such content can also be collapsed. The Handbook is organized so that each chapter, by default, has the most crucial overview information viewable and more detailed information collapsed. This collapsed content will not show up in a printed version, nor will the indication that there even is any collapsed content (except for extra spacing).

May 2012 marked first release of a CLASSE Safety Handbook (predecessors include several versions of a printed LEPP Safety Handbook and a CHESS Safety website).

The CLASSE Safety Handbook is maintained by the CLASSE Safety Director. Please report any error in content or web-functionality so it can be rapidly corrected. Suggestions for changes or additions to both content and web-functionality are also welcome.

If you are reading this as a printed document, it could be out of date, so check the vintage printed at the top right of every page and compare it to the dates at the top right of the top menu bar for the web Handbook. Clicking on those dates in the menu bar, one each for the public and private chapters, will bring you to lists of the most recent changes. If you are reading this as a printed document less than 60 pages, it is an abridged version, so please be sure to consult the full version for additional detailed information.

Links to sites outside CLASSE are provided for reference only. CLASSE and Cornell University can take no responsibility for content of external websites.


End of Introduction
Topic revision: r11 - 14 Jan 2019, BrianHeltsley
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