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Awards for Lab Safety
APLU is partnering with CSHEMA to offer both institutional and individual awards that recognize outstanding programs and innovations that improve research safety on campus. We are excited to announce the 2018 award winners.

Innovation Award
The CSHEMA Innovation Award seeks to honor the achievement of institutions that have implemented innovative process improvements, resource enhancements, or initiatives to improve the culture of safety on campus. See here for awardees.

Campus Leaders Who Care Award
The Campus Leaders Who Care Award recognizes outstanding involvement and support of senior administrators for their understanding of how important health, safety, and environmental stewardship is to their institution. See here for awardees.

March 12, 2020
Ten Years After the Texas Tech Accident: Part I: A Historical Retrospective
Available at ACS Chemical Health and Safety
A serious academic laboratory accident occurred at Texas Tech University in January of 2010. As a result of internal assessment and subsequent investigations by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we have been working on changing the safety climate at Texas Tech University over the past decade from nearly nonexistent or one of compliance to one where there is active work and thoughtfulness on the part of the administration, faculty, staff, and students to strive for improvement. In this two-part series, we explore the Texas Tech accident from a variety of perspectives. In part I we review the accident from a historical perspective as seen through the eyes of the faculty, administrators, and investigators who were principally involved. In part II we will explore how the accident acted as a galvanizing experience for the transformation of the safety culture, with a look at the current state of academic laboratory safety at Texas Tech.
Eighmy, Taylor, et al. “Ten Years After the Texas Tech Accident: Part I: A Historical Retrospective.” ACS Chemical Health & Safety (2020).

Entering the Rabbit Hole—A Perspective on a Culture of Safety
Available at ACS Chemical Health and Safety
MacKenzie, Cheryl. “Entering the Rabbit Hole—A Perspective on a Culture of Safety.” (2020): 73-74.

January 24, 2017
The new Safety Training for Academic Research Lab or STAR Lab offers interactive, hands-on safety training.
Available at NevadaToday.
The University of Nevada, Reno is one of the first universities in the nation to provide a campus lab space dedicated solely to safety training. In the past, safety training has been conducted online and through lecture, but the addition of the new Safety Training for Academic Research Lab or STAR Lab adds a more interactive and hands-on format. There are five different stations: hazard information, laboratory ventilation, laboratory operations, incident response, and biosafety.

January 5, 2017
CDC keeps secret its mishaps with deadly germs
Available at USA Today
USA Today filed a Freedom of Information Act with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on their lab safety accidents. They report that the CDC is keeping secret large swaths of information about dozens of recent incidents involving some of the world’s most dangerous bacteria and viruses.

December 15, 2016
The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, chaired by Joseph Lieberman and Thomas Ridge, has released a new progress report on the status of implementation of each of the recommendations from the Blueprint for Defense.

December 15, 2016
Emergency trainees mistakenly exposed to deadly ricin
Available at USAToday

Because of yet another mix-up with bioterror pathogens, a federal terrorism response training center in Alabama says it mistakenly exposed more than 9,600 firefighters, paramedics and other students to a deadly toxin over the past five years.

November 23, 2016
In 2017, ACS publications to include safety information
Available at ACS Central Science
ACS also hopes to contribute to safety awareness beyond our campus walls through its publishing activities. Starting at the beginning of 2017, all ACS publications will require experimental details to address and emphasize any unexpected, new, and/or significant hazards or risks associated with the reported work.

September 28, 2016
3rd Annual OSP National Biosafety Month Coming in October
Available at NIH
The NIH Office of Science Policy has announced that the 3rd annual National Biosafety Month is coming in October. National Biosafety Month is a period during which institutions are encouraged to refocus their attention on biosafety policies, practices and procedures. Institutions should use National Biosafety Month as an opportunity to talk to investigators and research administrators about the importance of biosafety, raise awareness, and seek input on ways to strengthen institutional biosafety programs.

August 18, 2016
2015 Annual Report of the Federal Select Agent Program
Available at CDC
The 2015 Annual Report of the Federal Select Agent Program, released in June 2016, summarizes 2015 data for the Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP), which regulates the possession, use and transfer of biological select agents and toxins so that important work with potentially dangerous and deadly pathogens is conducted as safely and securely as possible. This program is a partnership between CDC and USDA.

August 18, 2016
American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories.
Available at ASM.
The guidelines are written for educators to make the biosafety information accessible and practical for educators. They were developed in response to the 2011
Salmonella ​Typhimurium outbreak reported by the CDC. More info from the CDC on Salmonella ​outbreaks linked to teaching laboratories is here: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-labs-06-14/index.html. The Biosafety guidelines were also published in JMBE in 2013 here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3706168/pdf/jmbe-14-78.pdf

August 8, 2016
Honoring excellent lab safety performance
Available at Science
One important way to help build strong lab safety programs at universities, according to A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities, published in April by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, is to “establish recognition and reward systems” that honor people who exemplify excellent safety performance. Now, fittingly, the individuals who led the effort to create the report have been formally honored for their work. In addition, a new award has been created to recognize deserving principal investigators (PIs) and safety officers for their safety efforts.

August 8, 2016
New award for PIs: National Academic Research Safety Award
Available at LSI.
The nonprofit Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI) in Natick, Massachusetts, has created a national award for the principal investigator at an academic institution that has the best lab safety program in his or her research group. The National Academic Research Safety Award carries a prize of $2000, to be divided between the winning PI and the environmental health and safety department that nominated her or him, and to be used to improve lab safety.

August 8, 2016
GSA/ExxonMobil Field Camp Excellence Award
Available at Santa Barbara Independent
This award recognizes one geology field camp instructor based on his or her safety awareness, diversity, and technical excellence. The $10,000 award is funded by ExxonMobil and selected by the Geological Society of America. This year’s recipient is Jeff Meyer of Santa Barbara City College.

August 4, 2016
New university safety policy from Utah State University.
Available at Utah State University
The Administrative Safety and Health Policy outlines membership of the USU Safety Committee; policies for hazardous areas and workplace violence; and the roles and responsibilities of the president, provost, department heads, faculty, students, and more.

August 1, 2016
Promising practices in lab safety at CoR Summer 2016 Meeting
APLU’s research vice presidents had a session on promising practices in lab safety at their summer meeting. The promising practices were:
-Lorne Babiuk, Vice President/Research, University of Alberta
-Andrés Gil, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Florida International University
-Mark McLellan, Vice President for Research, Utah State University
-Caroline Whitacre, Vice President for Research, The Ohio State University

July 25, 2016
Independent Investigation of University of Hawai’i at Manoa Lab Accident Complete
Available at Lab Manager
The independent investigation by the University of California (UC) Center for Laboratory Safety into the March 16, 2016 explosion in a University of Hawai’i at Manoa laboratory has been completed. The UC team identified the likely physical cause to be an electrostatic charge and also provided recommendations on how UH and universities and research facilities across the country can improve laboratory safety practices.

July 25, 2016
Taylor Eighmy and Mark McLellan recognized as Campus Leaders Who Care
Taylor Eighmy and Mark McLellan have been recognized by the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Administration (CSHEMA) as Leaders Who Care for their work to enhance laboratory and research safety at universities across the country.

June 29, 2016
Learn how to make labs safer.
Available at Science.
APLU is teaming up with the University of California (UC) Center for Laboratory Safety and the lab safety firm BioRAFT to present a free 1.5-hour webinar on 30 June for researchers, environmental health and safety workers, campus administrators, and anyone else interested in safer labs.

May 11, 2016
News item: OSHA releases new regulations on workplace safety that will lead to lessons learned site at OSHA
Available at OSHA.
Under a final rule that becomes effective January 1, 2017, OSHA will revise its requirements for recording and submitting records of workplace injuries and illnesses to require that some of this recorded information be submitted to OSHA electronically for posting to the OSHA website. In addition, the final rule includes provisions that encourage workers to report work-related injuries or illnesses to their employers and prohibit employers from retaliating against workers for making those reports. From the FAQ page:

The agency will make the injury and illness data public, as encouraged by President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. After removing any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that could be used to identify individual employees, OSHA will post the data on osha.gov. Interested parties will be able to search and download the data. OSHA believes that posting timely, establishment-specific injury and illness data will provide valuable information to employers, employees, employee representatives, and researchers.

May 10, 2016
Blog: BioRaft Blog by Matt Segal on High Reliability Organizations.
BioRAFT’s blog has recently been doing a series on how laboratory safety can learn from High Reliability Organizations.
Link to recommendation

May 4, 2016
News item: Urging universities to act on safety
Available at Science.
Summary of recent events in lab safety, including the release of the Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture.

April 15, 2016
Added to toolbox: Chemical Educators Legal Liability insurance plan
Available at ACS.
ACS developed the Chemical Educators Legal Liability insurance plan for the liability risks of chemical educators. The plan, underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, covers areas excluded by standard educators’ liability plans such as Contingent Bodily Injury and Pollution Liability, as well as Employment Practices and Sexual Harassment.
Link to recommendation.

April 12, 2016
News item: University leaders should be responsible for lab safety, report says
Available at Chemical and Engineering News.
Presidents and chancellors of U.S. universities must take personal responsibility for changing the lab safety culture in academia, a new report says. The document, published by the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), challenges top university officials to create high-level committees responsible for lab safety, to modify tenure and promotion requirements to include safety, and to promote open commutation about accidents and near-misses on campuses. Although the report contains other recommendations, the ones putting emphasis on university officials’ accountability are being viewed as most important by the report’s authors and other safety experts.

April 11, 2016
News item: Two investigations underway into University of Hawaii lab explosion.
Available at Science.
The University of California (UC) Center for Laboratory Safety has been retained to carry out “an independent investigation to determine the cause of the explosion” in a Hawaii Natural Energy Institute biofuels research laboratory at the University of Hawaii (UH), Manoa, on 16 March. The explosion severely injured a postdoc, who has now been released from the hospital.
Link to recommendation.

March 23, 2016
Added to toolbox: Northwestern University publishes an annual safety report, called the Northwestern Directions in Safety.
Link to recommendation