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Dear Principal Investigator or Safety Supervisor,

December 29, 2018 was the 10-year anniversary of the accident that took Sheri Sangji’s life in a lab at UCLA. This accident triggered a national review of academic research safety.  The question that continues to be asked is, “have academic labs improved their safety performance, and are they instilling a culture of safety in the future generation of scientists?”  Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not a resounding “yes.” While progress has been made over the last 10 years, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we have participated in the national safety discussions, implemented new processes, and continue to provide resources across campus. These are all great steps, but individually we all must make the commitment to safety a priority.

To start the new year, I am asking you to review the latest lab safety news at (Chemical & Engineering News. The collection of articles by various researchers and administrators across the nation demonstrate the diversity of the topic.

If you can use this topic at your first lab meeting of the year, it will be greatly appreciated.  At a minimum, please share this note with your team. Thank you in advance for your commitment to safety and please do not hesitate to contact me with suggestions or comments.

Mary Beth Koza, MBA
Executive Director – Environment, Health & Safety/Risk Management
Department of Environment, Health and Safety/Risk Management
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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