May 10, 2017
As part of an ongoing initiative to strengthen the university's culture of laboratory and research safety, the U-M Office of Research and the Department of Environment, Health & Safety have launched a new campaign to boost awareness and effectiveness of safety practices.
In an e-mail to all University of Michigan faculty, staff and students, S. Jack Hu, vice president for research, and Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer, announced "Research Smart," a new phase of the Laboratory and Research Safety Initiative aimed at ensuring the safety and quality of U-M research.
"Safety is not only of the utmost personal concern to all of us; it also underlies the rigor, repeatability, and overall excellence of our research and academic programs," they wrote.
Safety is a particular challenge at U-M, they noted, not only because of the large and changing community of students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty and staff, but also because of the potential hazards that can arise in the diverse range of leading-edge research underway at the nation's largest public research university.
The new approach includes a network of local safety coordinators and safety committees appointed by 15 schools, colleges, institutes and other major units to work alongside faculty, staff and trainees to address their particular needs, and to act as liaisons to Environment, Health & Safety.
The safety committees support the work of their safety coordinators, oversee academic or research activities that pose risks, review emerging concerns, and recommend improvements and mitigation actions.
Coordinating the overall effort is a central, faculty-led U-M Laboratory and Research Safety Committee established to assist departments by reviewing how safety incidents and concerns are addressed, and to advise UMOR and EHS on university policies for implementing federal and state safety regulations across campus.
"The Research Smart campaign is intended to clarify and keep us alert to the risks we may encounter in our research, as well as the proper procedures and guidelines for dealing with them," Hu and Hegarty wrote. "Ultimately, safety is everyone's responsibility."
Details on the Laboratory and Research Safety Initiative, information on safety practices and a list of key safety contacts in units around the university are available on the Research Smart website.