Responsibility for safety and security rests ultimately with the head of the institution and its operating units. In some cases, there may be legal obligations and large personal fines or prison sentences if they do not provide a secure and safe working environment. Leadership by those in charge ensures that an effective safety and security program is embraced by all; even a well-conceived program will be treated casually by workers if it is neglected by top management.
To establish and support a unified effort for safety management and to provide guidance to people at all levels, each institution should have at least one designated safety officer. The safety officer should be equipped with the knowledge, responsibility, and authority to develop and enforce an effective safety and security management system.
Some larger institutions also have an environmental health and safety office staffed by experts in chemical safety, engineering, occupational medicine, fire safety, toxicology, and other fields. Such an office assists in establishing policies and promoting laboratory safety standards, and often handles hazardous waste issues, accident reviews, inspections and audits, compliance monitoring, training, recordkeeping, and emergency response.
Direct responsibility for the management of a chemical laboratory safety program typically rests with the chemical safety officer (CSO) and a laboratory manager. In coursework, laboratory instructors carry direct responsibility for actions taken by students. Instructors are responsible for promoting a culture of safety and for teaching the skills that students and other workers need if they are to handle chemicals safely.
Although they are influenced by and depend on attitudes of and guidance by those in leadership or management positions, students and other laboratory workers who actually do the work are responsible for working safely.