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Risk Management/Hazard Assessment/Hazard Control

  • SI policy (SD 419) is to “ensure that all alleged hazardous conditions are investigated, that identified safety and health risks are properly assessed and controlled….” Operating environments of the SI comprise a wide variety of health and safety risks that can never be totally eliminated. However, through the application of effective risk management principles and resources, associated risks can be reduced to acceptable levels.
  • The goal of risk management is to accomplish a balance between performance at the height of one’s potential and still maintain a safe working environment effectively controlling known hazards.
  • The STRI Director will ensure implementation of a safety risk management program that follows the Guiding Principles and the SI Risk Management Five-Step Process:
    • Step 1- Identify hazards
    • Step 2- Assess risks to life, property and the environment from those hazards
    • Step 3- Develop controls and make decisions on what risks are acceptable
    • Step 4- Implement controls and track corrective actions through completion
    • Step 5- Periodically evaluate the effectiveness of this 5-step risk management process
  • In order to manage risk in the laboratory, lab users will need to submit a Laboratory Safety Plan to the facility Scientific Coordinator for evaluation first and to the Safety Coordinator for approval.
  • In order to manage risk in the field, field researchers will need to submit a Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control Plan to the facility Scientific Coordinator for evaluation first and to the Safety Coordinator for approval.
  • For any clarifications, please discuss your research plan with your STRI sponsor, your facility’s Scientific Coordinator o with the STRI Safety Coordinator ( to determine the risk level of your projected activities.

Smithsonian Work Policies

Use of STRI Vehicles

  • All drivers must be authorized to drive by the STRI Installation Administrator prior to using a STRI vehicle.
  • In order to drive a STRI vehicle, the driver will need to comply with the STRI Vehicle Use Policy.

Use of STRI Boats

  • All small boat operators must hold a Panamanian goverment (ACP or AMP) license to operate small boats. You will need a license from ACP to operate boats in the Panama Canal Waters. You will need an AMP license to operate boats outside Panama Canal waters. You must be authorized by the STRI facility’s Coordinators prior to using a STRI boat and comply with the STRI Small Boat Use Guide (pdf).
  • In addition, Bocas has specific regulations and policies for boat operations – Bocas Regulations and Policies.
  • Check with the BCI Facility Coordinator to get familiar with boat regulations and policies there.
  • Only researchers with a valid boat license are authorized to drive a boat.

Scientific Diving

  • STRI has a scientific diving program coordinated by the STRI Scientific Diving Officer.
  • All diving activities conducted under STRI auspices, including the use of STRI diving equipment, must be pre-approved and included in a dive plan authorized by the STRI Diving Officer.
  • The SI diving policy known as SI Directive 120.
  • Recreational diving at STRI facilities is not permited.

Use of STRI Laboratory Facilities or Laboratory Equipment

  • Speak with your PI, lab manager, supervisor or facility Coordinator about the Laboratory Safety Plan (LSP) and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the lab where you will be working.
  • Review and sign your laboratory’s LSP that includes SOPs for common tasks.
  • If your activity involves using a new piece of equipment or new chemical with high or medium hazard level, write a SOP for it and include it in the LSP.

Use of Hazardous Chemicals

  • If you will be using any hazardous chemicals, review the STRI Hazard Communication Plan.
  • Some general operating procedures include:
    • Review the information in the “Safety Data Sheets (SDS)” prior to working with the hazardous chemical.
    • Ensure fume hoods and other engineering controls are operating properly before using them.
    • Minimize exposure using adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).