January 24, 2018 |
Lab Safety: Going Beyond Compliance to a Positive Culture
August 1, 2014  | 

St. Louis, MO — Everyone involved in the academic chemical research enterprise — from researchers and principal investigators to university leadership — has an important role to play in establishing and promoting a strong, positive safety culture, says a new report, Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research, from the National Research Council. This requires a constant commitment to safety organization-wide and emphasis on identifying and solving problems, rather than merely adhering to a set of rules and assigning blame when those rules are not followed.

Chemical hazards can be found in many academic fields and settings, including the biological sciences, medical schools, engineering disciplines and art studios. Recent serious and some fatal accidents in research laboratories at U.S. universities have prompted government agencies, professional societies, industries and universities themselves to re-examine the issue of safety in chemical research.

“The shift away from mere compliance and toward promoting a strong, positive safety culture has already yielded benefits in industries such as aviation and health care,” said H. Holden Thorp, PhD, provost and distinguished professor of chemistry and of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “We hope our recommendations help move academic chemical research in a similar fashion — toward the adoption of a culture of safety in laboratories that goes beyond inspections, standard operating procedures and chemical safety plans, all with the ultimate goal of protecting the lives and health of those who work there.” Continue>

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