National Safety Month, and Beyond
by Christopher Pitoscia, Manager of Research Safety Programs
As summer approaches, safety takes center stage with the annual observation of June’s National Safety Month as a time to bring attention to key safety issues. Columbia University will be celebrating this year with the continuation of a multi-faceted Research Safety Campaign to provide laboratories with the information, tools and assistance they need to ensure the safety of their personnel and operations.
EH&S met with hundreds of researchers over the past several months to introduce a variety of initiatives and increase awareness of some of the key components of our safety strategy. Overwhelmingly, you, the research community, were supportive of our planned efforts to engage and offer solutions on a variety of key safety topics, including eating and drinking in the lab, personal protective equipment, and an improved laboratory survey experience. We have heard you loud and clear.
On the heels of these introductory efforts, EH&S has begun the first iteration of our new survey model, focusing the scope of each visit to several fundamental safety topics. We started with a thorough examination of the safe use of cold and warm environmental rooms, and the results of these surveys will be made available soon, including detailed information on how your laboratory stacks up to your peers within your department, building, and campus. Please look for the Research Safety team and EH&S staff in your laboratories and building lobbies in the coming weeks and months, and please join us at an upcoming forum to discuss important safety trends and issues – more information to follow.
The results of this and future surveys will be communicated to laboratories individually, as well as through the use of a new database, the Columbia Laboratory Information Online Network (the LION). The LION will allow for the streamlined collection, bidirectional distribution and management of safety survey observations, reducing delays in the closure of surveys and the need for laboratories to manage paper forms or email communications.
Finally, we’ve had some fun along the way, with giveaways, prizes and other incentives. We will continue to be on the lookout for Safety Champions and to recognize all of the work that you do. Please stay tuned for additional photo and video challenges, safety messages from your colleagues and peers,
When working in the laboratory, eating, drinking or applying cosmetics is prohibited.
Proper work attire (long pants, closed toe shoes) and PPE (e.g., laboratory coat, gloves and eye protection) must be worn when working in the laboratory.
Remember to periodically flush your laboratory cup sinks and floor drains with water to prevent sewer gases from migrating into your laboratory.
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