A first-of-its-kind laboratory safety center has been established at University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA officials announced on March 30. The UC Center for Laboratory Safety, they say, will support research into the effectiveness of lab safety programs, including safety training and inspections.
UCLA changed its lab safety training and inspection programs after the death of researcher Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji from injuries she sustained in a 2008 chemistry lab accident. One of the goals of the new center is to determine whether those changes have actually reduced accidents and injuries, says Nancy Wayne, a professor of physiology and UCLA's associate vice chancellor of research overseeing lab safety.
Researchers at the new center will also work to collaborate with other universities, government, and industry to compare and contrast the effects of different safety programs on research labs at various institutions, Wayne says.
Wayne chairs the center's advisory board. James H. Gibson, director of UCLA's Office of Environment, Health & Safety, is the center's executive director.
The center will complement programs at the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, says Charles L. Geraci Jr., coordinator of NIOSH's Nanotechnology Research Center. "Promoting and disseminating good health and safety practices in an academic environment is a challenge," Geraci says. "I think the center will be a great benefit to academic scientists."
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and the UC Office of the President have provided a combined $400,000 in start-up funding for the center, which will look to government agencies for additional support, Wayne says. "Anybody who supports laboratory research really should be supporting lab safety as well," she says.