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NPL strives to provide a safe working environment for all it's staff and volunteers. Personal health and safety must come before anything else, no matter what the job. It's not just wearing the right shoes and knowing where PPE is found- it's also creating an inclusive work environment safe from discrimination and harassment. Each person working at NPL, whether it be staff, student or volunteer employee, must follow the guidelines set forth by the university, and outlined in the Employment Policies (see link in sidebar). The Compliance Training System, part of the UTLearn website, is where you can go to complete all the training modules required for all members of the NPL team.

NPL staff is here to help you with any concerns you may have about the environment we work in. If you have a problem, or see something that needs fixing, give us a heads up.

Lab Safety

In-lab training modules focus on physical safely in laboratory environment. As part of first day orientation you will be given a Lab safety tour, which gives you basic information such as location of exits, fire extinguishers and first aid kids. If you are working in the preparation lab of PRC122 you will be required complete additional safety courses run by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) department. Many of these can be taken on-line.

NPL staff are here to help if you have questions or concerns. Alert the Collection Manager or supervisor if you:

  •  injure yourself in any way, or have any allergic reaction to dust, pollen, or from an unknown source
  •  notice an unsafe situation (electrical, chemical, structural, biological (pests)etc,.
  •  can't find the required safety equipment* such as goggles or ear plugs.
  •  have any other health or safety concerns.


          *Some safety equipment may require training or doctor's approval, such as certain kinds of personal air filters or respirators. 

Know where emergency tools and equipment are located

Know where the nearest telephone is in case of emergency. Know where fire extinguishers first aid kits, sinks, hose, bibs, showers, and eye wash stations are in your area. They are located on your GIS map print-out, and are also pointed out in the Lab Safety tour.


Fire safety

Know where all the exits are to the building in which you are working. Know where all the fire extinguishers are in every area in which you work. In the main building the library and the 2 rear offices do not have a fire exit should the hallway be engulfed. ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings while you work.

First Aid Kits

First Aid kits are available in each of the cages in building 33 and in building 122.  Familiarize yourself with their location in each building.  If the kits need any supplies inform the Collections Manager or Supervisor so they can be obtained.

PPE-Personal Protection Equipment

 Important PPE data

Dust masks

  • Dust particle masks provide protection from airborne irritants stirred up during cleaning of the specimens.  These are always be available.  If you cannot find any, ask the Collections Manager or Supervisor.


  • Disposable white cotton gloves or latex or vinyl gloves are provided to protect the specimens from body oils and perspiration on the hands of the worker, and to protect the worker from the dehydrating and irritating effects of the dust and specimen matrix.

Dress for Success: Beyond PPE


  • Clothing that leaves large areas of skin exposed is not suitable when using hazardous chemicals in laboratories. Jewelry and loose clothing, e.g. ties, baggy pants and coats are also inappropriate. To minimize the risk when working with hazardous chemicals, the following personal protective clothing are recommended:
  • Lab coats or coveralls should be worn buttoned and with sleeves rolled down, constructed of cotton fabric and be nonflammable, where necessary. Required if personal clothing leaves large areas of skin exposed, e.g. shorts or short sleeve shirts.
  • Rubber coated aprons can be worn to protect against corrosive liquids and may be worn over a lab coat or coveralls. Required if personnel are at risk of splashes from corrosive liquids.

Foot Protection

  • Shoes which fully cover the feet must be worn in the laboratory and the cages! Sandals or perforated shoes are never appropriate, and the wearing of cloth shoes may not be appropriate.

General Safety Instructions:

Don't lock anyone in the cages

The cages in building 33 (Northwest, Southwest, East) are each locked with a combination padlock, from outside the cage.  It is therefore possible to lock someone inside the cage.  Before you lock each cage, MAKE SURE NO ONE IS STILL IN THE CAGE.  WALK UP AND DOWN EACH AISLE, LOOK IN EVERY CORNER and YELL THAT YOU ARE LOCKING UP. If you are working in the cages we recommend that you take a cell phone with you.

Power tools

Power tools include anything that whirs really fast, makes a loud noise, and can cut off, grind off, chop off, or skewer body parts in the wink of an eye.  In other words, they are DANGEROUS. Grinders, electric screwdrivers, circular saws, chain saws, drills, routers, are all types of power tools.

Make sure the Collections Manager or Supervisor knows you are using power tools. Ultimate responsibility for your safety lies with those in charge of the NPL. They must know when you are operating dangerous equipment. Only operate power tools if you have completed NPL tool use training for that piece of equipment. Before starting, make sure there is someone close by who knows you will be using a power tool. If an accident occurs, assistance will be available. If others know you are working with dangerous equipment they will be more likely to check on you, and will respond more quickly if they notice a problem. When you use most power tools you should wear protective goggles or a face shield.  Ask the Collections Manager or Supervisor for protective gear. TIE BACK long hair.


When using scalpels it is imperative you pay close attention to what you are doing. Blades are very sharp and it does not take much pressure to pierce the skin. Change the blade as often as necessary. Dull blades will drag and skip, causing tears and snags. Replace blades as often as necessary. Replacement blades are in the chest of many drawers in the Prep Room, in a drawer labeled 'New Blades'.

You must ALWAYS dispose of used scalpel blades in the red Sharps/Bio-hazard container. Failure to do so could result in members of the Housekeeping staff injuring themselves when they do trash pick up.


Chemical guidelines in the lab:

Fume hood use

Proper use of the fume hood is important to promoting a healthy work place. UT recently provided labs with a helpful safety sticker, placed next to the sash, that shows how high the sash should be, energy consumption and quality of ventilation. The unit in the Prep Lab is equipped with lights and electricity. There should never be anything stored in the fume hood. Doing so is a violation of UT EHS regulations and will result in the lab getting written up.

Camping gas

NPL commonly uses camping gas as a heat source for 'smoking' specimens prior to photographing them. The nozzle on the regulator controls how much gas is let out, and a striker is used to ignite the gas. Never open the regulator nozzle unless you are ready to use it- this means the striker is at hand, with enough flint to make a spark, and the specimen you are whitening is in position inside the fume hood. Camping gas canisters are not to be stored in the fume hood- they belong in the Flammables Cabinet.


For detailed information on employment policies here at UT, please see the University Policy Office's Employment Policies documentation.

Sections in this page:

EHS Compliance Lab Safety

General NPL safety

Employment and Human Resources


Lab contact information:


Ann Molineux 

Collection Manager


 Liath Appleton

Collections Staff




If nobody is available and a situation requires a UT staff member, call the Vertebrate Paleontology Lab

Matthew Brown, Operations Manager:


In the event of a fire, serious injury, or other life threatening situation, call 911.












  • Also look for red directional arrows posted around the lab indicating where fire extinguishers are located.




  • All labs at UT are equipped with lighted exit signs.

















  • The SW cage has a phone, but none of the other cages do. Be sure your cell phone is charged up and close by.





  • NPL power tool training is available for
    • grinding wheel
    • rock saws
    • potters wheel
    • hand tools



  • Always use the buddy system. No exceptions!




Things to know:
Safely change a scalpel blade














Employment and Human Resources

UT promotes a safe and inclusive work environment for all its employees. Please expand the sections below and review the quick reference guides for each of the topic headers.


 Sexual Misconduct Prevention

 Click here for UT's guide to Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Reporting.

Selected information from training materials (CW 121):

Change happens when we speak up. If you witness misconduct, report it. o Victims to not have to confront the harasser directly.

• Students, employees, contractors, and visitors are each responsible for maintaining a professional work environment by following the sexual harassment and misconduct policies.

• Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or even a client or customer.

• There are two common types of sexual harassment:

o Quid pro quo (or “this for that”): Using sexual conduct as a basis for employment decisions. There is a power difference between the harasser and the victim. For example, “If you go out with me, I’ll give you a promotion.”

o Hostile environment: Reasonably interferes with a person’s job or educational performance. When investigating, circumstances are considered. Includes the context, frequency, and severity of the conduct. It also includes whether the conduct was or could be considered physically threatening or humiliating.


• Everyone is encouraged to report illegal or unethical behavior and there are many ways to report incidents of sex discrimination. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with. 

• The behavior may be unacceptable to the other person, even if it is not meant to be sexual.

o Making the harasser aware of their behavior is the key to it changing.

• Leering, staring, or gawking can be considered inappropriate or unprofessional behavior.

• How someone dresses does not indicate how they should be treated. Always treat people with respect at the workplace.

• The victim does not have to be the intended target of the misconduct and can be someone who is affected by the conduct because it interferes with their ability to perform their job, or it creates a hostile and intimidating work environment. 

• It doesn’t matter if the victim submitted to the harassment. He or she may still file a complaint.

• Responsible Employees, including Supervisors:  o Are required to report sexual harassment allegations to a Title IX Coordinator AND Office of Inclusion and Equity (for employees) or Student Judicial Services (for students).

o Put the university at risk when you do not report.

o Have a higher responsibility to report the higher your position at the university.


• Retaliation is prohibited. Denying someone work or academic opportunities because they have complained about sexual harassment is against the law. 

• Always call someone if you have questions!


See the Equity website for more details. 

 Equality matters!
UT is dedicated to promoting a discrimination free work environment. The staff at NPL takes all accusations of harassment very seriously, and expects all its associates to treat each other with respect. Teasing or harassing a lab-mate because of gender identity, sexual orientation, race and religion is not tolorated. If you feel you are being targeted for harassment, please alert your supervisor, or fill out an incident report using the form linked to in the sidebar at the top of this section.





Report an incident to the Office for Inclusion and Equity here