There are many different kinds of hazards associated with laboratory work and sometimes these hazards results in unforeseen safety incidents. No one knows how often such laboratory incidents occur, but over the last several years, high profile laboratory events have raised public concern about them. This concern was crystallized in the Chemical Safety Board’s 2011 report on academic laboratory safety.
In order to address the concerns raised by the CSB, the Division of Chemical Health and Safety of the ACS believes that it is important to take advantage of the learning opportunities such incidents represent. Therefore, we have joined together to develop a form which we believe will be an effective tool for collecting appropriate information to develop “Lessons Learned” from such events.
These incidents can include events which result in injuries, financial or scientific losses, near-misses, and safety observations. Our motivation for collecting this information is for many reasons:
- To avoid having the same incident occur again;
- To enhance safety awareness of laboratory workers as they conduct routine work;
- To support the lateral thinking required to develop “what if” scenarios when planning laboratory work;
- To improve emergency planning for response to laboratory events
- To identify successful health and safety protection measures;
- To provide stories that can add interest to safety training efforts; and
- To help laboratory safety managers correctly prioritize their concerns.
Currently, a variety of laboratory organizations have developed “lessons learned” programs. Examples of these programs can be found at:
- The Department of Energy’s Operating Experiences Sharing platform
- University of California Center for Laboratory Safety Lessons Learned page
- ACS’s Chemical and Engineering News Safety Letters
- Chemical and Engineering News Safety Stories
- University of Rochester Rookie Mistakes page
- University of Chicago Lessons Learned
- Berkeley Lab Lessons Learned database
- Texas Tech University Safety@TTU: Lessons Learned
- University of California Berkley Lessons Learned
- Yale University EHS Lessons Learned
- Public hazmat events collected from Google news headlines
- Chemical Abstract Services’ Chemical Safety Library