Help Better Understand Lab Safety Failures

Nature advertised earlier today an international survey of lab safety.  They are conducting the survey with BioRAFT and the University of California Center for Lab Safety.  The center was formed after the 2008 death of a lab researcher (the felony case is still working through the court system).  You can take the survey online (thanks Magda) Unfortunately the link to the survey isn’t working right now.  They are looking for researchers to complete the survey, so please consider bugging the researchers for an invite and distributing the survey as widely as possible.

The survey has large statistical shoes to fill.  While there are other efforts to quantify recent trends in lab safety, historical data is still lacking.  Per the press release, “the survey asks questions about types of materials used in research, training practices and policies, and attitudes and beliefs about existing safety practices and their impact on research.”

While gathering more data is necessary, it’s not sufficient.  The number of people who have died in the lab over the last few years in the U.S. is small, but still too large.  Given the other lousy conditions facing most graduate students and postdocs in research fields, I would hope this country could at least commit to making it so you don’t have to worry about being able to come home from the lab.  Stepping off the soapbox now.