Study in Progress

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Statement of Task

The National Research Council, through its Board on Chemical Science and Technology and Board on Human Systems Integration, will examine laboratory safety in chemical research in non-industrial settings. It will compare practices and attitudes in these settings with knowledge about promoting safe practices from the behavioral science literature. It will make recommendations for systems and practices that would improve the safety of chemistry research laboratories specifically and other non-industrial research laboratories more generally. It will:

- Describe the current hierarchy of actors responsible for laboratory safety in US education and in national laboratories. Identify the strengths and shortcomings of these hierarchies and how it impacts the development of a culture of safety in academic research laboratories.
- Examine knowledge from the behavioral sciences, and experience with safety systems from other sectors (such as industrial research facilities, nuclear energy, aviation and medical) for key attributes of successful safety systems and cultures. Use this to draw lessons that could be applied non-industrial laboratory research.
- Provide guidance on systems (such as training and reporting) that might be established, maintained, and utilized to raise the overall safety performance of US chemistry research laboratories.
- Determine key actors required to achieve broad implementation of improved safety performance in research laboratories, especially in the US higher educational system, and provide guidance on their roles and how they might be effectively engaged in improving safe laboratory practice.
The resulting findings and conclusions will be disseminated broadly to key actors in academic laboratory safety.