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Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture

This guide is a roadmap for a university-wide effort to strengthen a culture of research safety. The guide has action steps, resources, and recommendations to help navigate the challenge of changing the culture of the institution.


Audience for the Guide

The guide is intended for university presidents and chancellors who have made a renewed commitment to improve their institutional culture of safety, and it is intended for the campus leadership team that the president appoints to helm this effort. The task force encourages each institution to use the guide in ways that fits their unique institutional contexts.

Resources in the Guide

Core Values of Safety

The task force has highlighted core values of a culture of research safety.

Actions that Support a Culture of Safety

The task force has provided some actions that university community members can take to advance a culture of research safety. These delineate the roles and responsibilities of presidents, other senior administrators, faculty, deans, department chairs, staff, and students.

Recommendations and Tools to Strengthen and Promote a Culture of Safety

The task force has identified 20 recommendations for implementing and sustaining a culture of academic and research safety, primarily drawn from four foundational reports: Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research (National Research Council, 2014); Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions (ACS, 2012); Creating a Safety Culture (OSHA, 1989); and Texas Tech Laboratory Explosion Case Study (CSB, 2010). This guide includes an analysis showing the alignment of the 20 recommendations with these key national reports.

The recommendations are organized in four overarching categories: institution-wide dynamics and resources; data, hazard identification, and analysis; training and learning; and continuous improvement.

For each recommendation, the task force has provided reading lists, tools, strategies, illustrative examples, and/or best practices drawn from a community of stakeholders for implementing these recommendations.  These resources were selected to help an appointed campus team navigate the process of strengthening their culture of safety.

Get Involved: Add Resources and Tools

The toolbox is not comprehensive, and the task force welcomes additions to the toolbox, which may be submitted to The latest additions to the toolbox can be found here.