To keep students and faculty safe in the lab, Creighton University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department ensures that those using the labs know all safety procedures. Faculty members, research assistants, students and anyone else that goes into laboratories are required to take an annual safety training course to remain up‐to‐date on safety guidelines.
Director of Environmental Health and Safety, John Baxter, said his department focuses on lab users taking precautions to prevent injury to themselves and others both in the lab and out.
"As an employer we are required by the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) to provide a safe work environment for all of our employees so we have developed safety policies for labs," he said.
Baxter said "While each department is responsible for training their respective students about lab safety and informing them about safety procedures, all of the employees are protected by OSHA and training falls to this department."
For example, one important safety rule is proper dress. In all educational labs, students and faculty are required to wear proper personnel protective equipment including eye protection, closed‐toed shoes, long pants or skirts and preferably long sleeves. Food and drink are never allowed in labs, and State of Nebraska inspectors will even look for evidence of chewing gum in labs with radiation.
"We work directly with the Radiation Safety Department to make all safety rules comparable across all labs whether there is radiation present or not," Baxter said.
To ensure that everyone does remain safe, the Environmental Health and Safety Department performs annual safety inspections. If there are problems in the labs, inspectors write letters to the appropriate faculty member so that the problem can be addressed.
"Lab safety is directly related to emergency preparedness," Baxter said. "Lab users are in a potentially high risk location. Accidents in laboratories can become campus‐wide emergencies. Even a small chemical release could lead to a large scale evacuation that could include multiple buildings. Proper training and safety precautions can prevent this," he added.