The concern of UNC-Chapel Hill ("University") for laboratory safety extends not only to employees but also to any persons visiting University laboratories, especially high school students and minors under the age of 18, who may potentially be exposed to hazardous materials. Laboratories are common sources of thermal dangers, compressed gases, electrical hazards, chemical, biological, and radioactive materials, lasers, and sharp objects.
Laboratories must never be utilized as a substitute for day care or other childcare options due to the risk presented to a child's developing immune/neurological systems and a child's general inability to recognize hazards. No one under the age of 12 is permitted in University laboratories. This includes instances when an employee office is inside a laboratory space.
Non-University students between the ages of 12 and 18 who are passing through or touring a laboratory must be under the direct supervision of a University employee who is trained and knowledgeable of the area's hazards. Persons between the ages of 12 and 18 may be present in laboratories solely as observers (unless the person is (a) a University student who has received the necessary training, or (b) a high school student who has met the High School Laboratory Worker requirements below) as part of officially sanctioned educational programs for high school or college students or other supervised educational activities that have been approved in writing in advance by the Department Chair or designee. No minor (unless the minor is a University student who has received the necessary training) shall be present during any activity with the potential for exposure to hazardous materials. Prior to allowing high school students or minor visitors to tour or observe in a lab, the supervising employee must conduct a basic safety orientation, including both general safety information and any hazards particular to the lab in question.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to providing educational opportunities, when they arise, to high school students participating in officially sanctioned educational programs. Principal Investigators are allowed to have high-school students (9th grade and above) perform work in a laboratory. However, high school students may not perform duties in which they are required to directly handle radioactive materials, materials at biosafety level 2 or higher (including rDNA, human blood, tissues or cell cultures, or pathogens) or research animals. High school students ages 15 and older may handle lower risk chemicals in limited circumstances, with proper safety equipment as necessary, in the discretion of the principal investigator.
Before a high school student may participate in educational activities in a laboratory: