With the launch of a new academic year, researchers are busy launching projects and guiding lab staff and students in ethics and protocols, including following safety regulations and guidelines. This is a good time for Principal investigators (PIs) to review safety protocols and verify that laboratory spaces are compliant with regulations and best practices for maintaining a safe work environment.
While it is ultimately the responsibility of the PI to set expectations and model a culture of safety in the lab, EH&S is collaborating with researchers to provide consultation and assistance so that research can be conducted with great success in the safest manner possible. Let’s work together to avoid accidents that could potentially injure lab staff and halt or delay projects.
Best practices for lab safety include:
- Reviewing the current version of the Lab Safety Manual
- Maintaining an accurate chemical inventory
- Ensuring that all staff have completed necessary safety trainings
- Wearing and providing PPE for lab staff
- Reporting accidents and near miss incidents
EH&S is currently working with the Provost’s Office and UW community members on the Lab Safety Initiative (LSI) to improve the University’s culture of safety research laboratories. This initiative will lead to the development and implementation of services, approaches, best practices, and tools to significantly improve laboratory safety throughout the University.
Initial feedback from the LSI indicates that a lack of clarity in responsibility is a barrier to safety in University labs. Resources to help clarify responsibilities are summarized in the UW Lab Safety Responsibility Matrix.