It’s time to manage safety


Myth: “There isn’t enough time to manage employee safety.”

The reality is that the clock is ticking … your time is valuable and you’re on deadline, but you don’t have time to not manage safety in your lab. PIs and Lab Managers who avoid taking the time up-front to implement safe work practices often spend valuable time managing lab safety after an incident occurs.

When it comes to lab safety, you don’t have time to not mitigate hazards.

Why? Because when you avoid spending time in advance developing safe operating procedures, something always goes wrong. Seemingly minor safety deficiencies build until an incident or near miss occurs. At that point, you’ll have to stop your research and spend time resolving an issue that probably could have been prevented. (Read about recent safety incidents at the UW).

If you are a Principal Investigator (PI), you are responsible for safety in your lab. Now is a good time for you to take charge and implement safe work practices.


  • Spend time in advance to ensure safety is paramount for every procedure.
  • Avoiding time spent on managing safety leads to more time managing safety.
  • Minor safety deficiencies can result in hazards that should not be ignored.
  • If a safety incident occurs, you may be less efficient and ultimately waste time responding to the crisis.

Adapted fromIt’s Okay to be the Boss: The Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need” by Bruce Tulgan. PIs and Lab Managers can use this guide to communicate expectations, manage safety performance, instruct students and staff, respond to deficiencies and reward success immediately.

For more information on research and lab safety at the UW, please visit the EH&S website.