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.
- 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.
- 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).