Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Represented on APLU Safety Task Force

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' (APLU) Task Force on Laboratory Safety recently released its Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities. The task force also released a companion website, www.aplu.org/researchsafety intended to make the guide more accessible and allow for the continued sharing of best practices and other information to improve safety at research universities nationwide.

Alice Young, associate vice president for research, responsible research, was part of the task force.

Designed for university presidents and chancellors who have pledged to commit their university to a renewed culture of research safety, the guide and website include 20 recommendations, each with an analysis of the alignment of the recommendation with other foundational reports, reading lists, tools, strategies, illustrative examples, and/or best practices drawn from a community of stakeholders. These resources were selected to help an appointed campus team navigate the process of strengthening their culture of safety.

In breaking the guidelines and website into 20 recommendations, the task force sought to provide a foundational resource that can be used by institutions regardless of the current practices they have in place to ensure research safety. Specifically, the guidelines seek to help research universities: 1) understand practical steps in implementing a 'culture of safety' in their laboratories; 2) document their commitment to laboratory safety excellence in order to benchmark against leading practice; 3) document their compliance with national, state, and institutional laboratory policies; 4) showcase their dedication to preventing and managing injury of individuals performing laboratory activities; and 5) limit the liability of college and university leadership by meeting established standards of excellence, including implementing mechanisms to document an institution's commitment to developing and preserving a culture of safety and compliance.

The task force, which APLU created in coordination with the Association of American Universities (AAU), American Chemical Society (ACS), and Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), is comprised of senior research officers, environmental and health safety experts, and representatives from industry and national labs. In writing the guide, the task force actively reached out across the university and science communities to hear perspectives on strengthening the laboratory safety culture from over 20 organizations and 25 institutions.

Those interested in contributing to the task force's growing list of resources that support a culture of safety in teaching laboratories; shops, studios, and stages; teaching classrooms; and the field, can make suggestions here.