Reporting and Managing Safety Issues

EHS is committed to developing a culture where safety and health are core values, adopted and practiced throughout all levels of the University.

All faculty, staff and students have a role to play - ensuring people under their direction have all that they need to work and study safely, using good judgment and adhering to environmental health and safety precautions, and looking out for each other to avoid injuries, illnesses and environmental harm.  When something goes wrong or even almost goes wrong and when something just doesn't seem safe, it is important to report concerns to supervisors and/or to EHS.

Managing Safety Issues

Department Chairs, Heads of Offices, Directors of Programs, Laboratory Directors, Principal Investigators, managers, supervisors, foremen, etc. are responsible for the health and safety of students and employees engaged in activities under their direction or supervision. These supervisors must ensure that their employees or students:

  • perform work activities in a safe and considerate manner.
  • comply with all relevant regulations and accepted standards.
  • have the engineering controls or protective equipment needed to perform work safely.
  • complete applicable EHS-required training and have access to training records.
  • receive additional job or activity-specific training as needed.
  • ensure visitors are safe from and aware of hazards in the area or workplace.

Faculty, staff and students are responsible for:

  • adhering to all University and departmental or office safety policies and procedures and comply with safety directives issued by their individual supervisors.
  • complying with the applicable provisions of health and safety standards and regulations promulgated by regulatory agencies.
  • attending required training.
  • raising safety concerns.

Additional information for faculty and staff is included in Section 8.0.1, Workplace Health & Safety of the Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual.

Reporting Safety Issues

Individuals with specific safety questions or concerns are encouraged to raise them with their immediate supervisor. Dealing with safety issues through the supervisory chain of command is the preferred method; however, when this approach is unsuccessful in resolving a safety issue, you may contact a member of the EHS staff directly. EHS staff will, on request, keep the name of a complainant confidential; however, in some instances, this constraint may prevent thorough investigation and resolution of a complaint.

If you are truly not comfortable speaking with someone directly, you may use the Princeton University Hotline to make a report anonymously. The University has selected EthicsPoint, an independent provider of hotline services, to provide you with a simple and anonymous way to report your concerns. EthicsPoint is always available and offers multi-lingual translators. Go to the University's EthicsPoint page to submit a report online or via telephone, or to follow up on an existing report.

Federal labor law prevents an employer from discriminating against an employee for engaging in certain protected activities, such as filing of safety complaints with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although employees have the legal right to file an OSHA complaint, they are encouraged to first exhaust all internal mechanisms for addressing safety issues, including supervisory staff, Departmental Safety Managers and safety committees, EHS, or the University Environmental, Safety and Risk Management Committee (ESRM).

Escalating Concerns

EHS makes every effort to work with individuals and supervisors to resolve safety issues. In the event that such issues cannot be resolved easily, EHS will follow an escalation process:

Research Laboratories

When an instance of non-compliance is observed in the research laboratory EHS will always counsel the individual directly involved. Depending on severity, EHS will often follow up with the principal investigator (PI) to make them aware of the issue. EHS expects the PI to take action to ensure the lab staff understand the importance of compliance.

An escalation process is followed when repeated issues are observed and the PI does not take appropriate action to correct the behavior/issue. If the issue is connected to work with animals, biological or radioactive materials, EHS may work with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), or the Radiation Safety Committee (RSC). Otherwise:

  1. Report to and work with the chair of the department or institute. If that is not successful...
  2. Report to and work with the dean of the school (if one exists). If that is not successful...
  3. Report to and work with the Dean for Research and/or the Dean of the Faculty

Non-Laboratory Areas

The escalation process for non-laboratory areas includes:

  1. Report to and work with department or office head.
  2. Report to and work with vice president to which the department or office reports.
  3. Report to and work with the Executive Vice President.

Faculty and Staff

Employees are responsible for complying with the applicable provisions of health and safety laws, standards and regulations, adherence to all University and departmental or office safety policies and procedures, and complying with safety directives issued by their individual supervisors. When employees do not meet these standards, it is the supervisor's responsibility to act in a timely manner and initiate a program of disciplinary steps to address the problem, as outlined in the University’s Disciplinary Procedure.


When students do not meet the above-mentioned standards and the supervisor or advisor is unable to resolve the issue, EHS will work with the Dean of Undergraduate Students or the Dean of the Graduate School.