Our Work

Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities

The task force suggests the following actions for members of the university community to support a culture of laboratory safety, although these are not exhaustive.

Responsibility for fostering and sustaining a safe campus rests on all members of the university community, and the ultimate accountability rests with the president/ chancellor.

  1. Demonstrate that safety is a core value of the institution through public discussion of the importance of safety, by providing adequate resources, and by developing effective policies.
  2. Understand that hazards exist not just in the labs of chemistry departments, but in other settings, such as other types of laboratories, performing arts spaces, art studios, and field research sites.
  3. Appoint an institutional lead and leadership team responsible for facilitating the building of a culture of safety (include language on authority and accountability).
  4. Be transparent on roles, responsibilities, and accountability.
  5. Align the reward and recognition system with efforts to promote safety, attending to hiring, promotion, tenure, and salary decisions for faculty.
  6. Assume ultimate responsibility for safety.
  1. Engage all stakeholders to build and implement an inclusive, collaborative plan with the institution.
  2. Develop effective working relationships with all stakeholders involved in improving the culture of safety.
  3. Participate in ongoing assessment, continuous improvement, and communication with the community.
  4. Develop and collect qualitative and quantitative safety metrics.
  5. Report to senior leadership about progress and maturation of the culture.
  6. Publish annual progress reports to the community.
  7. Implement annual reviews on the culture of safety.
  1. Effectively communicate the importance of a strong culture of safety to all members of the department.
  2. Work collaboratively with researchers toward the common goal of supporting a culture of safety.
  3. Work collaboratively with EH&S personnel.
  4. Ensure that adequate expertise is available during the development, implementation, and assessment of the culture of safety plan.
  5. Lead by example, by modeling good safety behavior.
  6. Incorporate efforts to foster a strong, positive culture of safety as an element in the criteria for faculty promotion, tenure, and salary decisions.
  7. Ensure that all safety incidents are reported to the department head/chair and dean.
  8. Assume ultimate responsibility for safety in the college (deans) and department (heads/chairs).
  1. Work collaboratively with research personnel.
  2. Encourage open and ongoing dialogue about safety to promote a questioning attitude, a healthy respect for what can go wrong, and continuous learning from operational experiences.
  3. Assist the university community in the evaluation of hazards and the development of procedures and other resources.
  4. In coordination with the research community, committees, and leadership, develop best practices and documentation to convey institutional standards.
  5. Provide a central repository of safety resources to the research community.
  6. Monitor and communicate regulatory and advisory changes to the research community.
  7. Collect and report safety metrics to the research community, committees, and leadership.
  8. Deliver training and education to the research community.
  1. Facilitate open dialogue about safety in labs, studios, and field sites.
  2. Conduct a hazard analysis prior to conducting any experimental procedure.
  3. Ensure everyone in the lab/studio/field site receives proper safety training.
  4. Lead by example, by modeling good safety behavior.
  5. Incorporate considerations of safety into scholarly work, presentations, and lab meetings.
  6. Discuss lessons learned from accidents, incidents, and near misses with their research group.
  7. Assume ultimate responsibility for safety in their laboratory, studio, or field site.
  1. Be mindful of the potential risks to their safety and those of their neighbors in the lab, field, shop, studio, stage, and in the classroom.
  2. Stop any experiment or activity that is potentially unsafe and notify the faculty supervisor.
  3. Immediately report all accidents and incidents to the faculty supervisor.
  4. Follow all verbal and written laboratory safety rules, including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), regulations, and standard operating procedures required for the tasks assigned.
  5. Conduct a hazard analysis prior to conducting any experimental procedure.
  6. Include a hazard analysis in thesis, dissertation, and funding proposals.
  7. Incorporate considerations of safety into presentations and lab meetings.
  8. Discuss lessons learned from accidents, incidents, and near misses with faculty supervisor and fellow researchers.