Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

OSU-CHS Laboratory Safety

As a result of the promulgation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Laboratory Standard (29 CFR 1910.1450), a culture of safety consciousness, accountability, organization, and education has developed in academic laboratories. Safety and training programs, coordinated through the research office, have been implemented to monitor the handling of chemicals from the moment they are ordered until their departure for ultimate disposal and to train laboratory personnel in safe practices.

Laboratory personnel realize that the welfare and safety of each individual depends on clearly defined attitudes of teamwork and personal responsibility and that laboratory safety is not simply a matter of materials and equipment but also of processes and behaviors. Learning to participate in this culture of habitual risk assessment, experiment planning, and consideration of worst-case possibilities—for oneself and one’s fellow workers—is as much part of a scientific education as learning the theoretical background of experiments or the step-by-step protocols for doing them in a professional manner.

Accordingly, a crucial component of chemical education at every level is to nurture basic attitudes and habits of prudent behavior so that safety is a valued and inseparable part of all laboratory activities. In this way, a culture of laboratory safety becomes an internalized attitude, not just an external expectation driven by institutional rules. This process must be included in each person’s chemical education throughout his or her scientific career.

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