Safety culture is a term which refers to the actions, attitudes, and behaviors of an institution's members concerning safety. In academic institutions, the members who should be concerned with safety include the administration, faculty, staff and students. A strong culture is "a reflection of the values, which are shared throughout all levels of an organization, and which are based upon the belief that safety is important, and it is everyone's responsibility."1

The health, or climate, of an institution's safety culture is reliant on personnel recognizing that the welfare and safety of each individual depends on clearly defined attitudes of teamwork and personal responsibility. Furthermore, personnel must realize that laboratory safety is not merely a matter of materials and equipment, but also of processes and behaviors.2

Over the past several years, academic research laboratories have received negative attention in the wake of laboratory accidents that resulted in bodily harm and even death of laboratory personnel. The glaring issue with these accidents is that they were avoidable had the responsible institutions fostered a strong safety culture.

Measuring the Safety Climate at EVMS

In an effort to bolster the safety culture at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) partnered with the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) to assess the safety climate at EVMS. The EVMS Safety Climate Survey Summary 2014 results are now available.

References

  1. American Chemical Society, Committee on Chemical Safety. Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions: A Report of the Safety Culture Task Force of the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety, 1st ed.; Washington, DC, 2012.
  2. National Research Council (US) Committee on Prudent Practices in the Laboratory. Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and management of Chemical Hazards: Updated Version. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55882/ (accessed Oct. 7, 2014).

Safety culture is a term which refers to the actions, attitutes and behaviors of an institution's members concerning safety. In academic institutions, the members who should be concerned with safety include the administration, faculty, staff and students. A strong safety culture is "a reflection of the values, which are shared throughout all levels of an organization, and which are based upon the belief that safety is important, and it is everyone's responsibility."1

The health, or climate, of an insititution's safety culture is reliant on personnel recognizing that the welfare and safety of each individual depends on clearly defined attitudes of teamwork and personal responsibility. Furthermore, personnel must realize that laboratory safety is not merely a matter of materials and equipment, but also of processes and behaviors.2

Over the past several years, academic research laboratories have received negative attention in the wake of laboratory accidents that resulted in bodily harm, and even death of laboratory personnel. The glaring issue with these accidents is that they were avoidable had the responsible institutions fostered a strong safety culture.

Measuring the Safety Climate at EVMS

In an effort to bolster the safety culture at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) has partnered with the Campus Health Safety and Environmental Management Association (CHSEMA) to assess the safety climate at EVMS. In the coming weeks, a safety climate survey will be deployed via email.

References

  1. American Chemical Society, Committee on Chemical Safety. Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions: A Report of the Safety Culture Task Force of the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety, 1st ed.; Washington, DC, 2012.
  2. National Research Council (US) Committee on Prodent Practices in the Laboratory. Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards: Updated Versionhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55882/ (accessed: Oct. 7, 2014).

Learn more about this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6mpxE9UKKQ.

Responsibilities

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be made available to laboratory workers to reduce exposures to hazardous biological, chemical and radioactive substances in the lab. Personal Protective Equipment must be readily available and provided at no cost to the employee. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to provide Personal Protective Equipment to their employees. 

Requirements

Biological Laboratories

An area regulated by CDC/NIH biohazard requirements for Biosafety Level 1 and 2. Predominant hazards are eye and skin exposure to biological agents and chemicals. Minimum Personal Protective Equipment requirements to work in a biological lab include:

  • lab coat
  • long pants
  • fully enclosed shoes
  • safety glasses
  • gloves

Chemical Laboratories

An area regulated by OSHA 29CFR1910.1450 Laboratory Standard. The use of chemicals poses high exposure and risk based on the hazard, quantities and types of operations. Predominant hazards are eye and skin exposure to chemicals. Minimum Personal Protective Equipment requirements to work in a chemical lab include:

  • lab coat
  • long pants
  • fully enclosed shoes
  • safety glasses 
  • gloves 

Radioactive Materials

Combination of biological and chemical laboratories, as listed above, might also include laser, radioactive material or x-ray hazards. Minimum Personal Protective Equipment requirements to work in a radioactive materials-containing lab include:

  • lab coat
  • long pants
  • fully enclosed shoes
  • safety glasses (specific for the rad/laser work) 
  • gloves 

Training for Personal Protective Equipment

Laboratory personnel must be trained in the selection, proper use, limitations, care, and maintenance of Personal Protective Equipment. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure laboratory staff have received the appropriate training on the selection and use of proper Personal Protective Equipment, that proper Personal Protective Equipment is available and in good condition and laboratory personnel use proper Personal Protective Equipment when working in laboratories under their supervision. 

PPE should not be worn outside the lab—employees should be trained to remove all Personal Protective Equipment when they leave the lab to enter public areas.

If you have further questions regarding Personal Protective Equipment please review the EVMS: