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Recommendations: Institution-Wide Dynamics and Resources

Recommendation 3. The campus lead and leadership team conduct campus dialogues with stakeholders to develop a shared vision of safety that aligns with the institutional mission and to develop an action plan

Tools for Recommendation 3

  • Campus community discussions in departments, colleges, and the university are critical for strengthening a culture of safety. Consider hosting listening sessions that focus on creating a safe learning/work environment.
  • Consider these guiding principles to help frame the discussion:
    • Each institution should commit to a campus environment that ensures the health and safety of their entire community (faculty, students, staff, and visitors) and empowers the community to be responsible for the safety of others.
    • Scholarly excellence and responsible conduct of research includes safety as a critical component. We do better science when we do safe science.
    • Safety training and safety education are critical components of research and education. They are important for instilling a culture of safety in the next generation of researchers and future faculty, and they are important for our students’ career development and employability.
  • American Chemical Society Committee on Chemical Safety (2012). Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 2012: 34.
    Available at ACS.
    This report identified elements of strong safety cultures, topics and resources for laboratory and chemical safety education, and 17 recommendations to build and enhance safety cultures in academic institutions.
  • Battelle (2014). The Safe Conduct of Research.
    Available at ONRL.
    The Safe Conduct of Research was produced through a collaborative effort across Battelle-affiliated laboratories. The purpose of this booklet is to codify the principles and practices that Battelle believes ensure their science is performed without unnecessary risk and is sustained without operational disruption. The principles outlined form the underpinnings of the strong safety culture at Battelle.
  • Culture, I. S. (1991). A Report by the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group. Safety Series, (75).
    Available at IAEA.
    This report deals with the concept of safety culture as it relates to organizations and individuals engaged in nuclear power activities, and provides a basis for judging the effectiveness of safety culture.
  • DOE Integrated Safety Management Guide (DOE 450.4-1c).
    Available at DOE Resources.
    The DOE established guiding principles and core safety management functions to incorporate safety into management and work practices.
  • Hill, R. H., & Finster, D.C. (2013) Academic Leaders Create a Strong Safety Culture in Colleges and Universities. Journal of Chemical Health and Safety, 20(5), 27-34.
    Available at Science Direct.
    Article describing the importance of leadership to creating a strong safety culture and that is one of the seven critical elements found in strong safety cultures. The safety vision of the president drives the direction and strength of the college or university’s safety culture. Deans, provosts, and department chairs are essential in carrying out the steps to achieve the president’s vision. Faculty and teaching assistants are the front-line leaders who teach students laboratory safety and develop students’ positive attitudes toward safety.
  • Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research (2014). Committee on Establishing and Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Laboratory Research; Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, Division on Earth and life Studies; and Board on Human-Systems Integration, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (2014, 128 pp.; ISBN 978-0-309-30091-9).
    Available at National Academies Press.
    This foundational report examines the culture of safety in research institutions and makes recommendations for university leadership, laboratory researchers, and environmental health and safety professionals to support safety as a core value of their institutions. The report discusses ways to fulfill that commitment through prioritizing funding for safety equipment and training, as well as making safety an ongoing operational priority. The report emphasizes that a strong, positive safety culture arises not because of a set of rules but because of a constant commitment to safety throughout an organization. Such a culture supports the free exchange of safety information, emphasizes learning and improvement, and assigns greater importance to solving problems than to placing blame. High importance is assigned to safety at all times, not just when it is convenient or does not threaten personal or institutional productivity goals.
  • Schröder, I., Huang, D. Y. Q., Ellis, O., Gibson, J. H., & Wayne, N. L. (2015). Laboratory safety attitudes and practices: A comparison of academic, government, and industry researchers.
    Available at Journal of Chemical Health and Safety.
    A survey on laboratory safety provided the basis for comparing safety culture attributes of respondents from academic (n = 991), government (n = 133) and industry (n = 120) laboratories.
  • Shreeve, J.M. (2015). Food For Thought. Chemical & Engineering News, 93(43).
    Available at C&EN.
    Veteran inorganic chemist argues that the ‘culture’ of laboratory safety must not be compromised.
  • Stanford University (2014). Report of the Task Force for Advancing the Culture of Laboratory at Stanford University.
    Available at Stanford University.
    In 2013, Stanford convened a task force to review and evaluate the laboratory safety culture at Stanford. The Report of the Task Force for Advancing the Culture of Laboratory at Stanford University is comprehensive with their findings, recommendations, and extensive appendices that include interviews with research personnel.
  • Sutcliffe, W. (2006). Managing the unexpected: Assuring high performance in an age of complexity. John Wiley & Sons.
    Available at Amazon.
    The authors use both case studies and theory-based analysis to explain the methods that result in organizational “mindfulness,” and, through it, a more robust culture of safety. They describe high-reliability organizations.
  • U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (2010). Texas Tech University Laboratory Explosion.
    Available at CSB.
    Investigative report of the laboratory explosion at Texas Tech University. The UCB provided an incident analysis, lessons not learned from previous incidents, lack of organizational accountability and oversight, key lessons, and recommendations.
  • From Creating a Safety Culture (OSHA, 1989):
    • Align the organization by establishing a shared vision of safety and health goals and objectives vs. production. Upper management must be willing to support by providing resources (time) and holding managers and supervisors accountable for doing the same. The entire management and supervisory staff need to set the example and lead the change. It’s more about leadership than management.
    • Develop site safety vision, key policies, goals, measures, and strategic and operational plans. These policies provide guidance and serve as a check-in that can be used to ask yourself if the decision you’re about to make supports or detracts from your intended safety and health improvement process.
    • Continue building “buy-in” for the needed changes by building an alliance or partnership between management, the union (if one exists), and employees. A compelling reason for the change must be spelled out to everyone. People have to understand WHY they are being asked to change what they normally do and what it will look like if they are successful. This needs to be done up front. If people get wind that something “”is going down”” and haven’t been formally told anything, they naturally tend to resist and opt out.

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