October is National Biosafety Month: Promoting a culture of safety

 

During National Biosafety Month, you are encouraged to focus attention on biosafety policies and practices. Investigators and laboratory managers can raise biosafety awareness, discuss the importance of safety, and seek input on ways to strengthen biosafety in their labs. This year, EH&S is focusing on ways you can promote a culture of safety.

1. Know your responsibilities as a principal investigator (PI).

Safety culture starts at the top. By modeling and encouraging safe attitudes and behaviors, you are showing that safety is valued, not just required, in your laboratory. In addition to being a safety role model, the PI has the responsibility of ensuring that the lab operates safely and that personnel are informed of risks, wear appropriate PPE, and are adequately trained. Take the Laboratory Safety Practices training to learn more about responsibilities. For more information, see NIH Investigator Responsibilities and the EH&S Guide for Principal Investigators.

2. Enhance biosafety training and procedures.

In addition to completing EH&S training courses, such as and , PIs or lab managers need to provide lab-specific training. If you don’t have a formal training program, take the time to create a list of training that each lab member needs to receive and then document that training. Review and update your standard operating procedures (SOPs) for protocols involving biohazards. Ensure personnel are trained on SOPs before starting a procedure. For training beyond biosafety, use the Safety Training for Laboratory Personnel matrix to see recommended training courses.

3. Support researchers and highlight successes.

Make safety a standing agenda item at laboratory meetings. Encourage lab members to give input. Everyone should feel comfortable bringing up safety issues. Highlight good practices that are being used.

4. If an accident happens, report it to EH&S.

Use accidents and near misses as a training opportunity to help prevent future accidents.Ensure the Exposure Response Poster is posted in all lab areas, and review the procedures with lab personnel.

EH&S is here to help and support your success in safety! If you have any questions or ideas about National Biosafety Month, contact an EH&S biosafety officer at ehsbio@uw.edu or 206.221.7770. Here are some additional resources: