Laboratory security is an issue that has grown in prominence in recent years and is complementary to laboratory safety. In short, a laboratory safety program should be designed to protect people and chemicals from accidental misuse of materials; the laboratory security program should be designed to protect workers from intentional misuse or misappropriation of materials. Security procedures and programs will no doubt be familiar to some readers, but others may have encountered it only in the context of locking the laboratory door. However, in the coming years, a working awareness of security will likely become a common requirement for anyone working in a chemical laboratory. Risks to laboratory security include theft or diversion of high-value equipment, theft of chemicals to commit criminal acts, intentional release of hazardous materials, or loss or release of sensitive information, and will vary with the organization and the work performed. Chapter 10 of this book provides a broad introduction to laboratory security, including discussions of the elements of a security program, performing a security vulnerability assessment, dual-use hazards of laboratory materials, and regulations that affect security requirements. The chapter is not intended to provide all the details needed to create a security program, but rather to acquaint laboratory personnel with the rationale behind developing such a program and to provide the basic tools needed to begin identifying and addressing concerns within their own laboratories.
This edition of Prudent Practices in the Laboratory builds on the work provided in previous editions. Among other changes, it has two new chapters, one on Emergency Planning and one on Laboratory Security, described above, and the discussion of EHS management systems has been extensively revised. Chapters 2, 3, and 10 cover administrative and organizational concerns that affect the laboratory environment; Chapters 4–8 discuss practical concerns when working in a laboratory; Chapter 9 discusses laboratory facilities; and Chapter 11 provides an overview of federal regulations that affect laboratory activities. Acknowledging the stronger regulatory environment that exists today, this edition provides more references to relevant codes, standards, and regulations than the prior versions. This is not intended to imply that safety has become a matter of regulation rather than of good practice; it is a reflection of laboratory practice today and is intended to provide a resource for personnel who must remain in compliance with these regulations or face legal consequences.
A strong culture of safety within an organization creates a solid foundation upon which a successful laboratory health and safety program can be built. As part of that culture, all levels of the organization (i.e., administrative personnel, scientists, laboratory technicians) should understand the importance of minimizing the risk of exposure to hazardous materials in the laboratory and should work together toward this end. In particular, laboratory personnel should consider the health, physical, and environmental hazards of the chemicals that will be used when planning a new experiment and perform their work in a prudent manner. However, the ability to accurately identify and assess hazards in the laboratory is not a skill that comes naturally, and it must be taught and encouraged through training and ongoing organizational support. A successful health and safety program requires a daily commitment from everyone in the organization, and setting a good example is the best method of demonstrating commitment.