The group will provide research universities with recommendations and guidance.
Alice Young, associate vice president for research at Texas Tech University, has been named to the new Task Force on Laboratory Safety created by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).
The task force will provide research universities with recommendations and guidance on the most appropriate strategies to enhance a culture of laboratory safety. The task force, which APLU created in coordination with the Association of American Universities (AAU), American Chemical Society (ACS), and Council on Government Relations (COGR), is composed of senior research officers and environmental and health safety experts.
“A strong safety culture is a critical part of faculty and student success in our laboratories and studios,” Young said. “The APLU task force will build on the work that Texas Tech's faculty-led Institutional Laboratory Safety Committee has done to reinforce the importance of faculty leadership in identifying hazards that may accompany creative laboratory and studio work and in working with our Environmental Health & Safety professionals to mitigate any risks.”
Recent ongoing efforts by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Board, the American Chemical Society and the National Academies show both concern and recognition of the absence of a lab safety culture in universities and colleges. The necessity for institutions to keep their faculty, staff, students and visitors safe during teaching and research activities is critical for their growth, success and long-term sustainability. Significant events in recent years, including a lab explosion that severely injured a Texas Tech graduate student, have raised awareness and highlight the need for a national solution.
The task force will address the needs that academic institutions have to:
- understand practical steps in implementing a culture of safety in their laboratories;
- document their commitment to laboratory safety excellence in order to benchmark against leading practice;
- document their compliance with national, state and institutional laboratory policies;
- showcase their dedication to preventing and managing injury of individuals performing laboratory activities; and
- limit the liability of college and university leadership by meeting established standards of excellence, including implementing mechanisms to document an institution's commitment to developing and preserving a culture of safety and compliance.
The task force is meeting Wednesday and Thursday (May 6-7) in Washington, D.C., with invited speakers from the National Academies, the American Chemical Society, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Board, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oak Ridge National Lab, Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Campus Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Association, and American Biological Safety Association.
The members of the Task Force on Laboratory Safety are:
- Taylor Eighmy (chairman), vice chancellor for research & engagement, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Mark McLellan (co-chairman), vice president for research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Utah State University
- Kimberly Espy, senior vice president for research, University of Arizona
- Mridul Gautam, vice president for research and innovation, University of Nevada, Reno
- Jan Novakofski, associate vice chancellor for research for compliance, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Patty Olinger, assistant vice president for research administration and director of environmental health and safety, Emory University
- Joanne Polzien, director of compliance, integrity and safety, Michigan Technological University
- Lesley Rigg, vice president for research, Professor of Geography, Northern Illinois University
- Tim Slone, director of department of environmental health safety, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Ara Tahmassian, chief research compliance officer, Harvard University
- Erik Talley, director of environmental health and safety, Cornell University
- Nancy Wayne, associate vice chancellor for research and professor of physiology, University of California Los Angeles
- Alice Young, associate vice president for research, Texas Tech University
Staff for Task Force
- Steve Bilbao, director, Environmental Health & Safety, Utah State University
- Robert Nobles, assistant vice chancellor for research for responsible conduct of research and institutional research integrity, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Kacy Redd, director, Science and Mathematics Education Policy, APLU