University leaders underscore safe lab protocols

April 21, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

The University of Michigan research community is launching an effort to enhance safety protocols in research laboratories across the university.

"Safe research is the responsibility of everyone in the laboratory — how we think, how we act, and most of all understanding that making sure no one gets hurt in the process is paramount," President Mark Schlissel said in an email message to the research community.

"When planning a project we must understand the hazards, protective measures and controls," said Schlissel, himself a medical researcher.

In the months ahead, U-M's Department of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health and the U-M Office of Research, in coordination with the Office of the Provost, will launch an initiative to strengthen current programs for research safety.

Specific measures will include establishing a new oversight committee on research safety, a survey to assess awareness of safety procedures, clarification of roles and responsibilities for laboratory safety and increased communication and information on safety issues and procedures.

The ultimate goal, university leaders say, is to enhance the campus community's ability to do quality research as safely as possible, and to remain a leader in safe laboratory operations.

U-M has a long history of conducting high-quality research that helps educate students and benefits the world. The university is the top public research university in the United States, with more than $1.3 billion in research expenditures.

In the email message to faculty, staff and students, the president and other leaders said, "We are embarking on an ambitious plan to enhance the culture of safety in research at U-M. Several independent groups, including the American Chemical Society and most recently the National Research Council, have issued reports on the culture of safety in research institutions across the country.

"Here at U-M, we have reviewed laboratory safety practices in research units across our campus and identified a number of enhancements that can be made to ensure research safety."

The message is signed by the president, Executive Vice President and Provost Martha Pollack, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Marschall Runge and Interim Vice President for Research S. Jack Hu.

Learn more about research safety at U-M.