What is Safety Culture?

In 2012, ACS assembled a task force to report on Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions, which focuses largely on undergraduate teaching laboratories and touches on research labs. It defines safety culture as “a reflection of the actions, attitudes, and behaviors of its members toward safety” and suggests seven characteristics of a strong safety culture: 

  1. strong leadership and management for safety;
  2. continuous learning about safety;
  3. strong safety attitudes, awareness, and ethics;
  4. learning from incidents;
  5. collaborative efforts to build safety culture;
  6. promoting and communicating safety;
  7. institutional support for funding safety.

With these seven characteristics in mind, the report makes 17 recommendations for academic institutions attempting to improve safety culture. Each recommendation aims to help institutions more strongly demonstrate the seven characteristics of safety culture that the report identifies. The ACS report focuses on and emphasizes the importance of safety education in undergraduate teaching laboratories. 

In analogy to the responses to the ULCA and Texas Tech incidents, the ACS report emphasizes the need for reporting systems, investigation systems, and a database of safety incidents. The authors suggest that such incident reporting supports continuous learning about safety

Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions

ACS guide offering suggestions, and recommendations that can help strengthen the safety culture in two- and four-year undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral programs. 

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Building Strong Safety Culture

Strong safety cultures will evolve only if leaders in the institution, as well as throughout the department, are fully and visibly committed to safety. ACS provides suggestions that may help strengthen and build strong safety cultures.

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Email the Safety team at safety@acs.org