A team of lab technicians handle a sample for PCR Ebola testing in a Bio Safety Level 3 glove box

Credit: Martine Perret/UNMEER

Honoring excellent lab safety performance

One important way to help build strong lab safety programs at universities, according to A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities, published in April by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, is to “establish recognition and reward systems” that honor people who exemplify excellent safety performance. Now, fittingly, the individuals who led the effort to create the report have been formally honored for their work. In addition, a new award has been created to recognize deserving principal investigators (PIs) and safety officers for their safety efforts.   

On 24 July, the Bloomington, Indiana-based Campus Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) bestowed its 2016 Campus Leaders Who Care Award on the co-chairs of the task force that produced the report: Taylor Eighmy, vice chancellor for research and engagement at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Mark McLellan, vice president for research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Utah State University in Logan. The award “recognize[s] outstanding involvement and support of senior administrators for their understanding of how important environmental stewardship and health and safety issues are to their institutions,” according to CSHEMA's website.

PIs also play a crucial part in establishing and maintaining high safety standards in campus labs. To honor such efforts, the nonprofit Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI) in Natick, Massachusetts, “has created a national award for the principal investigator at an academic institution that has the best lab safety program in his or her research group,” LSI director James Kaufman tells Science Careers. The National Academic Research Safety Award carries a prize of $2000, to be divided between the winning PI and the environmental health and safety department that nominated her or him, and to be used “to improve lab safety,” Kaufman says. Entrants must “demonstrate what they think is a great safety program and all the good things they believe this principal investigator is doing.”

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