Involve every staff member in some aspect of the safety program and give each a specific responsibility. There's a tendency to think that if someone is appointed safety coordinator, they have to do all the work for the rest of us. False! A coordinator is just that. He or she is not a "parent." Each person needs to be responsible for safety in general and for a specific part of the program in particular. Here's a list of a number of different specific assignments:

  • Bottle gas cylinders
  • Chemical inventory
  • Highly toxic compounds
  • Heavy metals
  • Emergency response
  • Pyrophorics
  • Reference materials
  • Oxidizers
  • Alcohol inventory
  • Acids and bases
  • Fire equipment
  • Refrigerators
  • Flammables storage
  • Showers and eye washes
  • Specimen storage
  • Electrical hazards
  • Accident records
  • In-service training

Get the idea? Everyone has a job to do. Everyone participates. Take turns doing a monthly lab inspection. Take turns presenting a 5-10 minute safety topic at department meetings.

The best safety programs are the ones that get everyone most involved.

Dr. James A. Kaufman is the founder and president of The Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI) – an international, non-profit center for safety in science and science education. LSI provides workshops, seminars, onsite training programs, lab safety program development consultations, facilities inspections and regulatory compliance assistance. Contact LSI with all your lab safety questions: 800-647-1977 or