New Report Promotes Safety Culture in Academic Labs

A new report published by the National Academies Press (NAP) examines the culture of safety in academic chemistry laboratories and provides recommendations to improve their overall safety performance and protect the health and safety of researchers. The latest discussion around safety culture in academic labs has been driven by the recent serious and sometimes fatal accidents in chemical research labs at universities across the U.S. 

The report, Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research, is based on the work of a committee appointed by the National Research Council, which includes experts in chemistry, human-systems integration, laboratory safety management, university administration, and other relevant fields. The committee’s nine recommendations are broken down to address all levels and aspects of the research enterprise: institution-wide dynamics and resources; research group dynamics; data, hazard identification, and analysis; and training and learning.
The report makes the following recommendations for improving the safety culture in academic labs: • University leaders must actively demonstrate that safety is a core value of the institution and show an ongoing commitment to it. • Organizations should incorporate non-punitive incident and near-miss reporting as part of their safety cultures. • Department leaders and principal investigators, in partnership with EHS personnel, should develop and implement actions and activities to complement initial, ongoing, and periodic refresher training.
According to the report, “interactions between [EHS professionals] and the rest of the research community is an important aspect of a strong, positive safety culture.”
For more information, view the full report, which is available as a free PDF download on NAP’s website, at


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