Part of Boston University Research Compliance, BU’s Research Occupational Health Program (ROHPResearch Occupational Health Program ROHP is part of BU R...) is focused on the health, wellness, and safety of the University’s scientific research community.

ROHP promotes a culture of safety by working closely with Environmental Health and Safety, leadership at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDLNational Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories The NE...), and other research-related support services. It makes use of comprehensive best practices to perform medical surveillance, workplace risk assessments, biosafety and agent training, and clinical occupational health services led by board-certified occupational medicine and infectious disease physicians.

Population Served

ROHP serves BU and Boston Medical Center (BMC) laboratory researchers and those who support those research laboratories. Its client population includes faculty, staff, students, and sometimes visitors.

Certain biological agents and other materials used in research labs have distinct hazards and/or special occupational health requirements. Researchers and other staff who handle animals, biological agents, or viable samples from animals and humans must be medically cleared by ROHP before handling the animal or materials. For these reasons, ROHP is the primary occupational healthcare provider for the following groups:

  • Animal Science Center (ASCThe Animal Science Center manages and oversees animal-relate...)
  • Researchers at BU or BMC BSL 2, 3, or 4 research laboratories listed on an IBCInstitutional Biosafety Committee The IBC is an instituti... or IACUCInstitutional Animal Care and Use Committee IACUC oversee... protocol
  • Environmental Health & Safety staff
  • Scientific SCUBA divers

ROHP Services

  • Researcher pre-placement and fitness to work evaluations
  • Immunizations and screenings for researchers
  • Research work hazard identification
  • Animal allergy screening
  • Reproductive counseling
  • Training programs specific to laboratory and research hazards
  • Respirator medical screening, for those who need to wear a respirator
  • Liaison with Boston Public Health Commission and the MA Department of Health for any reportable exposures, injuries or illnesses
  • On-the-job injury/exposure care for researchers:
    • Immediate first aid
    • Follow-up care for work-related injuries and illnesses
    • Coordination of care and referrals to specialists
    • Coordination of post-injury return to work

Reporting Laboratory Injuries and/or Exposures

The following instructions apply to all BU faculty, staff, and students.

  1. If you sustain an injury, chemical exposure, or biological exposure in a BU laboratory: Implement the first aid steps on which you have been trained, e.g., washing the injury, etc. Refer to a chemical’s safety data sheet.
  2. In case of emergency: Follow BU Emergency Instructions:
    • Call Public Safety for emergency medical assistance, 617-353-2121 (CRCCharles River Campus) or 617 358 4144 (BUMCBoston University Medical Campus).
    • Report all lab-related injuries or exposures to ROHP, 617-358-ROHP (7647), 72 E. Concord St., Evans 825.
    • Students should contact BU Student Health for any medical incidents NOT related to a chemical or biological exposure, at 617-353-3575.
  3. Immediate medical evaluation: Once you contact ROHP, a health care professional will perform a risk assessment, advise you on immediate first aid, and direct you to appropriate medical care.
  4. EMPLOYEES after reporting an incident to ROHP should contact Conduent, an injury/incident intake service available 24/7. Employees should also notify their supervisor as soon as possible.
  5. ROHP is staffed with specially trained nurse practitioners weekdays 8am-4:30pm.
  6. After hours and on weekends and holidays, the number will ring to an after-hours occupational physician call service, and a physician will return your call promptly.
  7. Safety investigation: ROHP will report the incident to BU Environmental Health and Safety so that they may investigate the incident and determine whether any changes need to be made to prevent similar incidents.
  8. Follow-up care: If symptoms related to your injury or exposure worsen, please contact ROHP.
  9. Costs of treatment: No one should hesitate to seek treatment for a laboratory injury/exposure due to cost concerns. ROHP provides medical attention and coordinates aftercare for laboratory injuries and exposures without any charge to research faculty, staff and students. If immediate emergency care is needed, or if follow-up care is needed outside of BU, the costs may be covered by your own insurance, by Workers’ Compensation if you are an employee, or by the Provost’s PhD Fund if you are a PhD student. If you have questions about costs related to laboratory injuries and exposures, please ask ROHP at

When to Go to ROHP vs. Someplace Else


  • Anyone working in the NEIDL, ASC, or listed on an IBC or IACUC protocol (generally for research conducted in BSL 2, 3, or 4 labs) should use ROHP as their occupational health provider for issues related to their work in the research environment.
  • Students in chemistry laboratories who sustain a chemical exposure may contact ROHP for a medical evaluation.

BU Occupational Health Center (BUOHC) provides general occupational health services for all BU employees. BU employees who support research laboratories other than those at the NEIDL get most of their occupational health needs met at BUOHC. For example:

If a Facilities worker sustains an on-the-job injury in a laboratory outside of the NEIDL, they should go to BUOHC.

Student Health Services is the primary health care provider for BU students.

  • BU students assigned to work in research laboratories (for pay, or not) and listed on an IBC of IACUC protocol will need to be medically cleared by ROHP prior to working in a lab. Typically, ROHP will ask students to provide their immunization documentation from their Student Health Services (SHS) record.
  • These BU students should contact ROHP for any injury or exposure that occurs in a research lab subject to an IBC or IACUC protocol.
  • BU students should continue to use SHS for general health matters such as immunizations, routine allergies and colds, and behavioral health services.

BMC researchers working on an IACUC or IBC protocol:

  • While ROHP may screen BMC researchers for research hazards, BMC employees should see BMC Working Well for routine and non-laboratory related occupational health needs.
  • BMC researchers go to ROHP for laboratory injuries or exposures; they will need to at least touch base with BMC Working Well for workers’ comp and other administrative matters.

    Questions? Just reach out to ROHP and we will make sure you get to the right place:

    Agent Information Sheets

    Find detailed information about biological agents approved for use within the Boston University/Boston Medical Center research community that have the potential to cause laboratory acquired infection (LAI). While LAI is a rare event, the research community continues to take proactive measures to further mitigate risk to researchers, safety personnel, and medical providers.

    View Sheets

    Information to Assess and Avoid Risks in the Lab

    Get useful information on assessing individual risk and avoiding potential health problems, particularly those associated with exposure to laboratory animals including allergies, working with non-human primates, and microbiological agents.

    Learn more

    Forms & Questionnaires

    Many of the forms used as part of the ROHP medical surveillance program are available on this site in the Forms tab above. You can also review requirements on this webpage. Web forms will be submitted automatically to the ROHP office. Any required forms in PDF format should be sent to ROHP either by email or faxed to the ROHP secure electronic fax number, 617-977-8788.

    The ROHP medical staff will review your questionnaire(s) and contact you if additional information, testing, immunizations, or a clinic visit is required. ROHP staff will contact you directly to schedule an appointment for you to visit the ROHP clinic located on the Medical Campus: Evans Building, 72 E. Concord Street, 8th Floor, Room 825.

    Note about privacy: Many of the forms request personal health information, which is needed to establish a baseline medical history for those persons performing research or supporting research. To protect the privacy of your medical information, these questionnaires should be submitted directly to ROHP and should not be shared with your supervisor, manager, colleagues, or Human Resource representative. For more on the privacy of your health information at ROHP, please see our Privacy Policy.

    Evaluating Workplace Risks

    • You can be at increased risk for infection when you are immunocompromised or pregnant. Pregnancy is considered an immunocompromised condition. In addition, reproductive hazards are substances or agents that may affect the reproductive health of women or men or the ability of couples to have healthy children. Workers may be exposed to reproductive hazards by breathing them in (inhalation), by contact with skin (dermal), or by swallowing them (ingestion). Potential health effects include infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and developmental disorders in children. Learn more at Occupational Health and Safety Administration. For more information  regarding biological reproductive hazards, visit the CDC for a complete list.  If you have any concerns about reproductive health as it applies to your work environment, please reach out directly to ROHP at 617-358-7647 or to schedule a confidential reproductive counseling appointment.
    • Know your workplace and individual risks and ask for help in evaluating those risks. Environment Health & Safety (EHS) and the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) conduct risk assessments of research projects and procedures to identify and minimize the potential risk of exposure to research-related hazards for all employees. In addition to identifying possible hazards in the workplace, EHS can help evaluate engineering controls, safety practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize your risk of exposure. In general, safety practices in the research setting are designed to minimize all personnel exposure to hazards. For a personalized evaluation of workplace hazards, contact EHS.
    • Request an individual risk assessment with a physician in ROHP. Consult with a healthcare provider in ROHP who you can provide information on your medical condition and a list of infectious agents/hazardous chemicals present at your workplace. ROHP can help you make important decisions, including whether you should ask for a workplace accommodation, after a complete risk assessment has been conducted.
    • Contact the BU Equal Opportunity Office if job modifications or accommodations are needed to avoid possible workplace exposures.

      Eliminating/Reducing Workplace Risks

      • Make sure that you know the hazards associated with the material before handling them.
      • Complete your training and follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) developed by your lab for working safely.
      • Always use the recommended engineering controls (such as Biological Safety Cabinets).
      • Always wear and use the required personal protective equipment.
      • Always wash your hands after contact with animals, potential hazards, and after taking off gloves.
      • Ask for help in requesting accommodations in the workplace to avoid possible exposures.

      Additional External Resources

      ROHP practices are informed by a variety of expert resources external to BU. Below is a selection of resources that lab workers will find useful.