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Study finds U.S. lab safety practices are inadequate

Study finds U.S. lab safety practices are inadequate
Study finds U.S. lab safety practices are inadequate

A recent study, conducted jointly by a group of organizations and universities, found that the safety practices performed by lab technicians typically are not as safe as managers perceive them to be.

According to the report, issued by BioRAFT, Nature Publishing Group and the University of California's Center for Laboratory Safety, a survey of more than 2,360 scientists and researchers found that despite acknowledging a need for improved safety measures, often, those currently in place are inadequate.

A broad range of lab safety topics were discussed, including the perceived safety of measures and practices in place. The study also measured the respondents' ability to gauge the gap between scientists' perception of lab safety and the perception of their supervisors'.

"Scientists think they're safe, but their compliance with currently accepted best practices, along with the frequency of injuries, indicate that they're not. This points to serious problems in how communication around lab safety and its requirements are being conducted," said Nathan Watson, CEO of BioRAFT. "These survey results are just the beginning of a larger conversation that the scientific community needs to have to improve lab safety."

The study indicated that 95 percent of lab managers believe lab safety is "very or quite important to them personally," and 86 percent said they felt their lab was a safe work environment. However, 64 percent admitted to having worked in their labs alone several times in one week, and 54 percent said they didn't always wear their lab coat.

"The results of this survey really provide a roadmap for us, determining where we need to focus our efforts to improve lab safety," said James Gibson, Executive Director of the UC Center for Laboratory Safety and Director of UCLA's Office of Environment, Health & Safety. "In the coming months we'll be closely analyzing all of these data, continuing our mission of helping academic and commercial labs all across the world make their labs even safer."

This sentiment is echoed in one Massachusetts state laboratory, where, according to the Jamaica Plain Gazette, laboratory management is facing threats that although don't pose any danger now, could cause problems down the road.

Keeping accurate records of all laboratory compliance maintenance can help lower costs associated with federal inspections. 

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