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MSU gives inaugural award for lab safety
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A laboratory at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine recently became the first-ever recipient of an MSU award recognizing laboratories for outstanding attention to safety.
MSU’s Office of Regulatory Compliance and Safety presented the inaugural Excellence in Laboratory Safety Award to the Center for Environmental Health Sciences.
The award was established to recognize an MSU laboratory group that makes safety a top priority every day.
“We take safety extremely seriously,” said Jan Chambers, director of the center. “Of all of the laboratories on campus, I’m proud and honored that they chose ours.”
The Center for Environmental Health Sciences conducts research requiring compliance in multiple regulatory areas, Chambers said. These areas include biosafety, which involves infectious materials; hazardous waste, which involves potentially dangerous chemicals; radioactive chemicals; human subjects protection, which involves both subjects’ confidentiality and their physical, emotional and psychological safety; and lab animal welfare.
“We are cautious about all of the hazardous materials we deal with and work extraordinarily hard to make sure students, lab technicians and research associates all are protected,” Chambers said.
In addition to these regulatory compliances, Chambers and her staff focus on basic lab safety.
“We don’t want to have any physical hazards in the lab, such as cords to trip over,” she said.
The Office of Regulatory Compliance and Safety inspects most MSU laboratories annually, but the diverse nature of the research conducted at the Center for Environmental Health Sciences requires multiple regulatory agency visits throughout the year.
“We have certain protocols for our work, and the scientific question involved in our research determines what protocols we need to follow, such as surveys that protect anonymity or measures to ensure animals are cared for appropriately,” Chambers said.
Chambers’ group has several biomedical research projects under way.
“We have projects going on to try to identify causes for Type 2 diabetes,” she said. “We’re also studying antidotes for insecticide exposure, such as the accidental poisoning of farm personnel.”
Because of their commitment to safety, the group is deserving of this award, said Patricia Cox, biosafety officer and assistant director of the Office of Regulatory Compliance and Safety.
“Dr. Chambers’ group is dedicated to creating a culture that allows research to flow but at the same time recognizes hazards and mitigates or eliminates them through strict adherence to the highest safety standards,” Cox said. “The labs are clean, well-organized, well-run and the lab staff and management are prompt in implementing any safety recommendations. This group goes above and beyond the basic standards of lab safety.”