Who enforces safety in academic labs?

May 27, 2009

Good question.

The major federal funding agencies, which set the priorities for research on campuses across the country, don’t even ask about a scientist’s safety record before awarding funds, and neither do tenure and promotion committees. At most colleges and universities, the responsibility for lab safety falls to an office of health and safety that has little power over professors who are bringing in millions of dollars in grants. Even serious mishaps rarely damage lab chiefs’ careers.

Read Beryl Lieff Benderly in Slate.

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