Expert Report

Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research (2014)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Safe Science: Learn more
The following PDF resources are written specifically for:
Principal Investigators and Department Chairs
Laboratory Researchers
University Senior Leaders
Deans and Vice Presidents for Research
Environmental Health and Safety Staff
Recent serious accidents in chemical research laboratories in US universities--some of them fatal--have highlighted a need for improved lab safety; but it has become increasingly clear that simple compliance with regulations can only go so far in protecting researchers. Many colleges and universities are now working to build a strong, positive safety culture: a constant, institution-wide commitment to safe working practices to reduce the risk of incidents and injuries. This report, produced by a diverse committee including experts in chemistry, behavioral science, and laboratory safety management, recommends ways to foster a culture of safety in academic chemical research. Building a strong, positive safety culture will require action from everyone involved in the academic research enterprise, from graduate students to university leadership, the report finds. It is not enough to provide safe equipment, systems, and procedures if the culture of the organization does not encourage and support working safely in the laboratory. The report's authoring committee presents specific guidance for five major stakeholder groups within the academic research enterprise, identifying the steps they should take to support a strong safety culture.