The University Committee on Health and Safety’s (UCHS) Task Force is pleased to announce the availability of the Advancing Safety Culture in the University Laboratory Report. A robust and positive laboratory safety culture is critical to maintaining, supporting and advancing the research excellence at Stanford. This report is the culmination of a year’s worth of discovery and evaluation of Stanford’s research laboratory safety culture. The Task Force solicited information and input regarding laboratory safety culture elements from the various stakeholders and personnel involved in the academic research laboratory environment. This report provides findings and recommendations the Task Force believes will contribute to further development and advancement of a strong, positive laboratory culture at Stanford University.
While the report is focused on laboratory safety, it is envisioned as the first step in what will be an intensive and ongoing effort to further develop a positive culture of health and safety throughout the entire Stanford campus and community. The faculty-led University Committee on Health and Safety’s (UCHS) Task Force for Advancing the Culture of Laboratory Safety at Stanford University was convened in collaboration with the Dean of Research in October 2013. The Task Force’s charge was to review and evaluate the state and perception of the safety culture in campus research laboratories and provide recommendations for continued advancement of a positive culture of safety within academic research laboratories at Stanford. The ultimate goal of this process was to instill a value for safety in Stanford laboratories and make them a safer place and model for other institutions.
The Task Force was co-chaired by three senior research faculty from the schools of Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, and Medicine, and included representatives of the various stakeholder constituencies directly involved in laboratory research and safety management at Stanford (graduate students, post-docs, research associates/assistants, lab managers, faculty/PIs, University Safety Partners (USPs), Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S), school and university research leaders, among others). Although there are many diverse aspects involved in organizational safety cultures, three specific organizational areas were identified as core elements to supporting and advancing safety culture in academic research laboratories:
- within the frontline research groups conducting work at the bench top;
- within departments and schools with major academic research laboratory activity; and,
- within the institutional organizations that provide safety support for research activities at Stanford, including leadership and senior administration, Environmental Health and Safety and the University Safety Partners.