Life science laboratories, with their chemicals, glassware, and occasional pathogens, can be dangerous places. Yet today’s life science lab is probably safer than ever before, researchers, lab instructors, and safety officers report.

"People are making efforts now to plan research activities more than they used to. Most large universities and many small ones are putting more effort into safety," says Peter Ashbrook, head of hazardous waste management at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "This could be due to the regulatory climate or to changes in the way scientists are trained. I’ve been here 15 years, and I’ve seen a lot of attitude changes."

SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Lab Safety Supply Inc. offers labels and signs for identification of hazardous materials.
Many researchers mention "Prudent Practices" guidelines developed by the National Research Council and published in 1981, 1983, and 1995 (Washington, D.C., National Academy Press) as fostering a "culture of safety"...

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