Create a Culture of Lab Safety: Interview with Dr. James Kaufman of The Laboratory Safety Institute

Two Accidents In The First Month Of A Career As A Professional Chemist

Two accidents marked the start of Jim Kaufman’s first month working at Dow Chemical in Wayland, Massachusetts — incidents that were to change the course of Jim’s laboratory career forever, setting him on his lifelong mission to promote lab safety.

university lab workbench
Formaspace manufactured this Benchmarx™ for a university lab in California; it features a black epoxy sink and countertop and two phenolic resin upper shelves.

The Laboratory Safety Institute Offers A Vast Range Of Safety Resources, Many Of Them Free Or Available At Low Cost.

Building on the success of his Laboratory Safety Guidelines publication, Jim first created a lab safety program in 1970 at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts; in time, it grew to become its own independent 501c3 non-profit Massachusetts charity organization, known today as the Laboratory Safety Institute.

Safety Resources For K-12, Higher Education, Commercial, Or Non-Profit Laboratories

Online Classes With Certificates And Continuing Education Credits

The Laboratory Safety Institute currently offers a variety of courses, including this online lab safety series:

  1. How to be a more Effective Chemical Hygiene Officer
  2. Introduction to Lab Safety (1-day)
  3. Extended Lab Safety (2-days)
  4. Comprehensive Lab Safety (3-days)

Online Safety Seminars

Virtual On-Site Lab Facility Audits/Evaluations

  • Virtual lab safety audits and site evaluations (due to the pandemic, these are now done virtually). Recent clients include an oil refinery and a community college.

Safety Documents Reviews And Evaluations

  • Evaluation of safety programs and safety protocol documents, including a complimentary “wellness check” evaluation (with 10 tips) of chemical hygiene plans submitted by lab managers and administrators.


  • The Laboratory Safety Institute also engages directly with both academic institutions and non-academic organizations to provide educational consultation services, including facilities audits, program evaluations, reviews of safety documents, and more.

Expert Witness Services

  • A few times a year, the Laboratory Safety Institute is called on to provide expert testimony in lab safety-related litigation proceedings.

How Can We Learn From The Lab Accident Mistakes Of The Past, Or Are We Destined To Repeat Them?

We wanted to get Jim’s take on preventing lab accidents. Are we destined to repeat the failures of the past, or can we learn from past mistakes?



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