Anna - Thank you for posting.
This is an important article, and I agree with its conclusions, but I find it deficient in that there is no mention of the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety, which has done good work to address this very issue. Hard to believe a Nature-published "review" did not include something so easily found via a Google search.
Further, the authors completely ignore the very good body research that has been in the areas of biological safety and radiation safety in academic laboratories. The developments in those areas are a good model of where we could proceed in chemical safety research.
Pete Reinhardt, Yale University EHS
From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU]
On Behalf Of Anna Sitek
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2019 11:33 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Nature Chemistry - A review and critique of academic lab safety research
Over the past ten years, there have been several high-profile accidents in academic laboratories around the world, resulting in significant injuries and fatalities. The aftermath of these incidents is often characterized by calls for reflection and re-examination of the academic discipline's approach to safety research and policy. However, the study of academic lab safety is still underdeveloped and necessary data about changes in safety attitudes and behaviours has not been gathered. This Review article critically examines the state of academic chemical safety research from a multifactorial stance, including research on the occurrence of lab accidents, contributors to lab accidents, the state of safety training research and the cultural barriers to conducting safety research and implementing safer lab practices. The Review concludes by delineating research questions that must be addressed to minimize future serious academic laboratory incidents as well as stressing the need for committed leadership from our research institutions.
...found there's no comprehensive data on the types or frequency of injuries or "near-misses" in academic labs. And because reporting is voluntary, there are massive gaps, undermining the opportunity to learn from past mistakes.
"It paints a troubling picture," said Dr. Me´nard.
A possible explanation, said Dr. Trant, is that "lab safety is mistakenly seen as a nuisance that gets in the way of research."
The husband-and-wife team approach lab safety research through the lenses of both natural science and the social sciences.
"The consideration of human factors has tended to centre on blaming victims for their behaviours that led to or aggravated an accident," Me´nard and Trant write.
"Overall, there's a lack of safety culture that has been normalized."
The article ends with a barrage of questions, stressing the need for committed leadership from research institutions.
"The state of academic safety research is unconscionable and cannot be allowed to continue," Me´nard and Trant conclude.
The couple are in the process of developing a number of studies on the topic of lab safety. They plan to delve into how often accidents occur, when people choose to report accidents (or not), and the mental health consequences of being involved in or witnessing accidents.
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