Campus Laboratory Hazards and Tragedies- Unique Challenges and Solutions Webinar Recording

Event Type: Webinars, AIHA Webinars

Earn 2 Contact Hours

Member $199 | Nonmember $225 | Student $25

​Recent devastating incidents in college/university laboratories have resulted in higher education EH&S/Industrial Hygiene programs coming under public, media, professional organization, and regulatory agency scrutiny. At many higher educational institutions, even though a large percentage of campus EH&S resources are well-directed toward academic research laboratory activities, collaborative relationships with researchers are often difficult to achieve.

This webinar will address the factors and challenges represented by many recent incidents in academic laboratory research operations. Recommendations, findings, industry partnerships, and some unique approaches will be presented and discussed as possible change agents. The findings and recommendations by the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’s) Committee on Chemical Safety Task Force on Creating a Safety Culture in Academic Laboratories will be discussed. The webinar will provide attendees with the tools and information to improve the safety culture at their organization.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, participants will be able to:

  • Cite factors and challenges represented by many recent incidents in academic laboratory research operations
  • Explain how a risk-based approach may prevent accidents
  • Apply unique solutions to current issues


Risk Assessments in Research Laboratories
Neal Langerman, Advanced Chemical Safety, San Diego, CA

Risk-based laboratory experiment management looks at the entire experimental setup, including the chemicals, quantities, apparatus, and equipment and the people, and assesses the potential for an unacceptable event. The assessment is based on the frequency and severity of each scenario considered. This requires the laboratory personnel to ask, “What if," prior to designing and performing the experiment. Risk mitigation methods are a direct consequence of the assessment. Two well-documented academic chemistry incidents will be examined with an emphasis on what was known prior to the incident and how a risk-based approach would have prevented the incident.

Dow Chemical & University Lab Safety Partnership
Lori Seiler, Dow Corporation, Midland, MI

The Dow Chemical Company launched a pilot program to improve university laboratory safety awareness and practices. The program leverages key elements of Dow’s best-in-class practices to help improve university laboratory safety and promote a safety mindset in the future workforce of the chemical community. The Dow safety mindset is based on driving behavior towards incident prevention, sustained by renewed employee engagement and the responsibility to provide a safe work environment to employees. Leveraging and adapting these key elements to help improve and sustain university laboratory safety is the main goal of this partnership.

With limited resources, inadequate infrastructure, developing and sustaining a positive university safety culture remains a challenge.

Laboratory Safety Culture; American Chemical Society Safety Culture Task Force Findings
Erik A. Talley, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY

The emphasis placed on academic laboratory accidents and near misses over the last few years has highlighted the need for improved safety culture in academia. The American Chemical Society Committee on Chemical Safety formed a Safety Culture Task Force in 2011 to evaluate safety culture needs in academia. The Task Force produced a report in 2012 for the academic community that builds and strengthens safety culture. While the report was generated for academia, the findings can be applied to other organizations. The report details each of seven essential elements of strong safety culture and its impact on an organization. Seventeen recommended actions are suggested to aid in implementing the seven essential elements of a strong safety culture. Leadership, continuous learning, and education of students in basic laboratory and chemical safety are emphasized in the report. More than 70 topics are suggested to be part of the undergraduate educational process. A comprehensive list of resources for laboratory and safety information is presented.

Unique Initiatives to Raise the Safety Culture at ASU’s Fulton Schools of Engineering
Jonathan Klane, M.S. Ed., CIH, CHMM, CET, Arizona State University (ASU), Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering (FSE)
The Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU has its own Office of Health and Safety (OHS) with two staff dedicated to their programs and operations – an Assistant Director of Safety Programs and a Chemical Safety Specialist. As such they do not report to EH&S at ASU. Instead, they work for the Engineering Dean’s Office (EDO). They are located amidst the FSE buildings and Engineering Technical Services (ETS) who are responsible for FSE’s entire infrastructure.

Some of the unique initiatives undertaken by FSE’s OHS include:

  • A baseline safety culture survey of all students, faculty, and lab/shop staff.
  • A safety video contest open to all FSE students.
  • Participating in ASU’s Wellness Day/Fair with safety contests.
  • A “Share a Hazard” Pizza Party for new undergraduate students.
  • A “Safety Apparel Fashions in Engineering Today and Yesterday (SAFETY)” Show
  • A “Leadership in the Lab” series of seminars for new and returning Dean’s Fellows on both general leadership as well as lab safety.

Each of these initiatives will be discussed including planning, delivery, outcomes, and pictures from the events.


  • Neal Langerman
  • Lori Seiler
  • Erik A. Talley
  • Jonathan Klane, M.S. Ed., CIH, CHMM, CET

Questions? Contact us at [email protected].