Planning Safe Research

A strong safety culture is a goal wherever University of Michigan (U-M) research is performed.  This goal can only be met when you (faculty/lab managers/supervisors) plan for it during the experimental design phase and carry it through to completion of the research; taking the time to:

  • Evaluate and understand the hazards and risks of the operations and equipment involved in the research.
  • Understand the safety requirements associated with activities being performed.
  • Ensure that all aspects of having a safe operation, including appropriate training, personal protective equipment, engineering controls, approvals, and standard operating procedures are in place from the start of the activities.

EHS is your partner in this endeavor. We are always available to consult with and assist you in the process of starting a new laboratory or relocating to a new laboratory space. For more information, contact your EHS representative or call (734) 647-1143.

Understanding Your Lab Director Role in Safety

As a lab director, actions and activities occurring in space under your control are your responsibility, and as such maintaining a safe operation is important to make sure everyone that comes to work for you is able to go home at the end of the day as healthy as when they arrived. Standard Practice Guide 605.01 states:

“Anyone in a management or supervisory role:

  • Assume responsibility for the safety of those under their supervision or oversight.
  • Take all appropriate steps to make all within their area aware of potential hazards and proper management of the risks, including training and proper equipment to carry out activities safely and meet environmental compliance.
  • Encourage anyone within their area to report problems, issues, or improvements without fear of reprisal.
  • Investigate and address reported issues in a timely manner.
  • Serve as a role model and set a positive example for safety by following established safe work practices and implementing corrective actions brought to their attention.
  • Stop an operation under their supervision if it poses an imminent threat to people, the environment, or facilities.
  • Report to higher administration levels failures of persons within their area to adhere to safety or regulatory requirements.”

The following U-M policies relate to laboratory safety:

Research Smart

The U-M Office of Research (UMOR) and EHS, in coordination with the Office of the Provost, launched the Research Smart initiative in early 2015 to strengthen and sustain a strong culture of laboratory safety on campus.

The U-M initiative aligns with guidance on improving research safety at educational institutions issued by the National Research Council, the American Chemical Society and the American Association for Public & Land-Grant Universities.

Goals of the initiative are to:

  • Enhance a cooperative culture of safety around all research activities
  • Improve communication, awareness, and resource assessment across campus
  • Establish commitment to using proper safety procedures in all research activities
  • Identify best practices and strategies that may serve as a model

Click here to find out more about Research Smart.