Do you assess the risk in your lab work? It is important to conduct a risk assessment whenever a new experiment, procedure or project is developed in your lab. A risk assessment focuses on hazard identification at each step or task level, and can provide essential information for enhancing safety practices, establishing proper procedures, and ensuring all lab members are properly trained. EH&S’s new Lab R.A.T. (Laboratory Risk Assessment Tool) can be used to help with gathering the information you need.
When conducting an assessment, consider the full range of safety, health, and environmental hazards, from machine safety to physical hazards to chemical and biological exposures. Be sure to consult the Laboratory Safety Manual for standards in research practices, and discuss your decisions with your PI, supervisor, and any peers who perform the experiments or tasks being considered. Review of related safety concerns, near misses, and accidents at the UW and other institutions can give you additional insight.
Materials used to conduct a risk assessment include:
- The Hierarchy of Controls, to consider what methods will eliminate or reduce any hazards,
- A Risk Matrix to assign a risk rating for your experiment or project
- A documented record of your entire assessment.
All of these materials are included in the Lab R.A.T.
For further guidance on how to use the new Lab R.A.T. and conduct your risk assessment, review the Lab R.A.T. Guidelines.