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Staying safe at NIH

Information on laboratory safety, mandatory safety training, ergonomic assessments, what to do if you are hurt on campus, and where to seek guidance and support when issues arise.

Safety is everyone's responsibility

The NIH is committed to supporting safe and healthy work environments for all trainees, fellows, and staff. Maintaining a safe and healthy workplace is everyone’s responsibility, within our research groups and across our campus.

On this page you will find information on physical safety at the NIH, with a focus on research environments. We hope that you will be proactive to avoid accidents and injury and want to be sure you know who to contact and where to go in case of an accident.

Required safety trainings

All members of the Intramural Research Program must complete laboratory safety training every year. Additional required trainings depend on your age, what type of research you will be doing, and whether you will be working with specific pathogens in your research group.

All safety trainings are hosted by the Division of Occupational Health and Safety. Consult this table and talk with your daily supervisor and/or PI about what trainings are required to help you stay safe at NIH.

Know who can help

The Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS) provides support to all NIH staff in Maryland, Montana, Arizona, including trainees and fellows. DOHS maintains offices on NIH campuses in Bethesda, Baltimore, Frederick, and Hamilton. DOHS also provides contract safety support for NIH staff working out of facilities in Phoenix, AZ. Safety at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina is provided by the NIEHS Health and Safety Branch (HSB). DOHS and HSB provide support in many areas:

What to do if you get hurt

If you get injured at work, you should contact your local Occupational Medical Services (OMS) clinic. If your injury resulted in a lab-related exposure:

  1. Immediately initiate first aid at the worksite-wash wounds with soap and water or irrigate eyes or mucous membranes as applicable, for 15 minutes,
  2. Notify your supervisor, if available,
  3. Report to your local OMS:
    • Bethesda: Building 10, Room 6C306, (301) 496-4411
    • Baltimore: Room 01B210, (443) 740-2309
    • IRF-Frederick: Room 1B116, (301) 631-7233
    • NIEHS-RTP: Building 101, Room E111, (984) 287-4178
    • RML-Hamilton: Room 5205, (406) 375-9755
    • NIDDK-Phoenix: (301)496-4411

If your exposure is related to an old-world nonhuman primate, consult the Nonhuman Primate and Other Research Animal Bite, Scratch, Splash, and Exposure (BSSE) Guidelines.

If you require immediate assistance on campus, call the NIH police:

  • Bethesda: Building 31/Room B3B17
    • 911 for emergencies
    • 311 or (301) 496-2387 for non-emergencies
  • Baltimore: 9-911
  • IRF-Frederick: 9-911
  • RTP-North Carolina: 9-911
  • RML-Hamilton: 0

Emergency alert system at NIH

The NIH Division of Emergency Management is the main emergency planning resource for the NIH.

Sign up to receive emergency alerts (ALERT NIH) in the event of a local emergency.

More safety resources

COVID-19 safety guidance

Provides guidance to staff regarding COVID safety measures.

Visit the NIH DOHS COVID website.

Lab safety resources

Provides oversight and resources to keep laboratories safe, including radiation,  biological, chemical, and laser safety.

Visit the Lab Safety Resources website.

Lab safety training

Provides guidance and hosts important safety trainings.

Visit the Lab Safety Training website.

Ergonomic assessments

Supports you in finding ways to decrease injuries related to your workspace.

Visit the Ergonomic Assessments website.

Occupational Medical Services

Enhances the health and safety of the NIH workforce through a variety of work-related medical and counseling services.

  • If you have questions about laboratory safety issues or observe unsafe or unhealthy work conditions in your research group, speak with your supervisor and/or PI. You can also consult your lab safety specialist. You may also request a consultation or make reports of unsafe or unhealthy work conditions by reaching out to DOHS to report an unsafe condition.