School of Medicine Laboratory Volunteer Policy

The School of Medicine (SoM) views the opportunity to volunteer in a laboratory as a very important educational experience, introducing volunteers to the workings of a research laboratory and often helping them to explore possible future career choices. The SoM encourages faculty to provide such opportunities to individuals seeking a lab experience and welcomes those who meet the requirements of the SoM Lab Volunteer Policy.

A) Purpose

The SoM lab Volunteer Policy clarifies who is authorized to .volunteer in SoM labs and outlines procedures for departments to screen and engage lab volunteers. This Policy collects requirements from Federal and State regulations and UW policies that apply to lab Volunteers. SoM departments that engage lab volunteers must follow this Policy.

B) Definition of Volunteer

Volunteers may serve in SoM labs with departmental supervision and under the following circumstances that define a "volunteer" under state and federal law:

See WA Dept of Labor and Industries Employment Standards Administrative Policy ES.A.1 defining volunteer

C) Policy

D) Applicability

1) The following individuals may volunteer in SoM labs:

Note: Federal immigration authorities interpret volunteer service as employment. An individual without unrestricted work authorization who volunteers in a position that is not a traditional volunteer position (e.g., traditional hospital candy striper), may jeopardize his/her visa status and subject the University to significant fines and potential loss of federal research funds. Departments should consult with the International Scholars Office ("ISO") or the Dean's Office before allowing individuals with visas to serve as volunteers.

2) The following individuals may NOT volunteer in SoM labs:

E) Department Responsibilities

1) Before the volunteer service begins

2) Training requirements

Environmental Health & Safety requires that lab volunteers receive the same level of protection as employees, including personal protective equipment training. At a minimum, the supervisor must provide the following safety orientation for lab volunteers:

3) Required lab volunteer documentation

Departments must maintain documentation of the following information for lab volunteers:

The primary purpose of the training listed above is to ensure volunteers' safety in SoM labs. PIs and volunteer supervisors should also adequately screen and train lab volunteers to protect research experiments, to protect lab equipment, and to safeguard proprietary information.

F) Lab Volunteer Responsibilities

Policy approved by:
Mark S. Green
Associate Dean for Business
Dean's Office, School of Medicine
SoM Laboratory Volunteer Policy
May 11, 2011

Additional EH&S Laboratory Health and Safety Resources

For more information on health and safety in laboratories consult the following EH&S resources:

UW Laboratory Employee Safety Training Checklist
Training courses registration
UW Laboratory Safety Manual
EH&S Laboratory safety webpage