December 4, 2015
Topic: Campus News
The University of Michigan is taking the next step toward promoting a culture of safety in academic laboratories and research across campus by establishing a standardized policy for laboratory safety.
The new Academic Laboratory and Research Safety Policy identifies the general roles and responsibilities that individuals and various university groups have for enhancing and promoting a safe laboratory culture.
The policy applies to all faculty, staff and students working in university laboratories or when conducting university-related field research or activities, regardless of location.
"The policy provides the foundation to assist schools, colleges and departments in meeting laboratory and research safety standards," Interim Vice President for Research Jack Hu says in an email message to the research community.
The policy also "provides guidelines for more effective collaboration between the research community and the various U-M departments and offices charged with overseeing the safety and compliance of our campus," adds Hu.
In addition to the new policy, an oversight committee on laboratory and research safety has been established.
"The U-M Laboratory and Research Safety Committee assists us with implementing federal and state regulations and U-M policies pertaining to lab safety and research," says Terry Alexander, executive director of the Office of Occupational Safety & Environmental Health.
The committee also will review incidents and concerns regarding safe practices in labs and research, and will make recommendations for improvements and remediation where necessary.
The university announced the initiative to strengthen current programs for laboratory and research safety in April. The ultimate goal, university leaders say, is to enhance the campus community's ability to do quality research as safely as possible, and to remain a leader in safe laboratory operations.
In an email message to the research community last spring, President Mark Schlissel said, "Safe research is the responsibility of everyone in the laboratory — how we think, how we act, and most of all understanding that making sure no one gets hurt in the process is paramount."
Members of the research community soon will be invited to participate in a survey to assess awareness of safety procedures. Responses will help university leaders determine the next steps to enhance lab safety and enable the university to develop programs and monitor progress on safety concerns with community support.