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Recommendations: Continuous Improvement

Recommendation 17. The institution conducts self-assessment and bench-marking using measures that can provide feedback on whether it is moving to a safer culture.

Tools for Recommendation 17

  • Internal self-assessment can be done at the institutional level or at the sub-unit level (e.g. departments, colleges, institutes).
  • External peer assessment is a practice common to the academy, especially around graduate program review. Peers can be selected based on their academic and research profiles and maturation of their safety culture. As an example, see The University of Texas System.
  • CSHEMA’s Safety Advancement Program
    Available at CSHEMA.
    The Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management (CSHEMA) has the Safety Advancement Program, which is a comprehensive and extensive campus-wide guided self-assessment. Typically, this is a yearlong process.
  • Report of the Task Force for Advancing the Culture of Laboratory at Stanford University.
    Available at Stanford University.
    Self-assessment of Stanford’s safety culture. The report provides detail on how they did their assessment, their findings, and their recommendations.
  • Lab Safety Score Cards.
    Available at Emory University.
    As part of their internal self-assessment, Emory University uses the cards. Every PI is required to complete an annual lab self-inspection and receives a lab safety card. Each department chair also receives a scorecard with how every PI is complying with safety expectations.
  • Laboratory Audit Form
    Available at Utah State University.
    Utah State University uses this form for self-assessment.
  • Northwestern Directions in Safety
    Available at Northwestern University.
    Northwestern University publishes an annual safety report.
  • Yemoto, C. E. (2012). Laboratory Self-Inspection: Using a Checklist for Safety and Health Audits. Lab Medicine, 43(6), 307-312.
    Available at Lab Medicine.
    A concise article on developing a laboratory checklist.
  • From Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions (ACS, 2012):
    • Recommendation 11. Establish an internal review process of incidents and corrective actions with the Departmental Safety Committee (faculty, staff, students, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars), and provide periodic safety seminars on lessons learned from incidents.
  • From Creating a Safety Culture (OSHA, 1989):
    • Conduct self assessments/bench marking. To get where you want to go, you must know where you are starting from. A variety of self-audit mechanisms can be employed to compare your site processes with other recognized models of excellence such as Star VPP sites. Visiting other sites to gain first- hand information is also invaluable.
    • Develop measures and an ongoing measurement and feedback system. Drive the system with upstream activity measures that encourages positive change. Examples include the number of hazards reported or corrected, numbers of inspections, number of equipment checks, JSA’s, pre-start-up reviews conducted, etc.
    • Continually measure performance, communicate results, and celebrate successes. Publicizing results is very important to sustaining efforts and keeping everyone motivated. Everyone needs to be updated throughout the process. Progress reports during normal shift meetings allowing time for comments back to the steering committee opens communications, but also allows for input. Everyone needs to have a voice, otherwise, they will be reluctant to buy-in. A system can be as simple as using current meetings, a bulletin board, and a comment box.

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