If it feels like your research program is seconds away from spinning out of control, you're not alone. For many institutions, finding a balance between research and safety is a never-ending struggle.
In part 1 of this series, we discussed some of the reasons EHS programs exist, and what they’re designed to protect. Universities – particularly those that rely on research programs to attract talent and funding – face a wide range of environmental, health, and safety risks.
Specifically, in part 1, we discussed why EHS can seem like such a burden, and how that sense is often a leading indicator that you may be dangerously disconnected from your EHS team’s efforts.
In many cases, your EHS team may be under-resourced and struggling, creating opportunities for risks to materialize and harm your people, finances, and reputation.
Let’s dive in to how EHS protects your institution from these three specific facets of risk.
Topics: Why Safety Matters
The health and safety of your students, staff, visitors, and community is vital to your institution’s success. No matter how good your course offerings, how talented your teaching staff, or how much funding you have, your institution cannot survive without a strong environmental, health, and safety (EHS) program.
EHS helps prevent injuries and illnesses. It strengthens and protects your brand reputation. And it prevents and mitigates costly financial harm to buildings, spaces, and equipment. According to OSHA, every $1 spent on EHS can save your institution $4 to $6.
Investing in EHS people, processes, and systems should be a priority for every institution. That’s especially true for schools that rely on their laboratory research programs to attract top talent and secure funding.
Topics: Why Safety Matters
To help you hone your craft, we’re writing a series of articles each highlighting a different soft skill. Today’s topic is solving open-ended problems with the four-step process below:
- Define your goal
- Establish your parameters
- Identify your resources
- Make an informed decision
The core of this strategy revolves around working backwards to solve an open-ended problem so that you always have a reason for the decisions you’re making.
Let’s dive in.
We saw that cutting costs is a tricky thing to get right, and there are a lot of ways to make mistakes that can cost your institution big time.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. In most safety programs, there are plenty of opportunities to save money without sacrificing safety — if you know where to look.
Institutions are changing how they allocate budget. For many safety programs, that means one thing:
It’s time to sink or swim.
Upper management is increasingly requesting that you demonstrate not only how much value you add to your research program, but also what steps you’re taking to stay efficient.
So what’s changed here? University leaders are realizing that they can no longer simply hike tuition to cover rising costs, and they’re looking for new places for revenue generation. Unfortunately, they often turn their eyes to their research safety programs.
Congratulations, your biotech startup (or accelerator) is finally taking off! Perhaps you've hired more researchers, increased your research space, or secured an additional round of funding.
Now is the best time to start thinking about how your safety and loss control programs will scale as well. Believe us when we say it can be a real nightmare to untangle if you leave it unaddressed for too long.
In Part 1 of this series, we looked at some of the challenges you can expect to face as you grow, as well as some signs that you’ve outgrown your safety consultant.
The question now is: how do you effectively manage safety, keep costs down, and prevent administrative burden from keeping you away from the activities that make you profitable?
When you're first starting out, safety consultants are often a great solution to manage risk and compliance while still operating on lean margins.
Offloading these tasks can allow you to focus your resources on progressing research and securing funding without sacrificing safety.
But for many biotech companies, there comes a point where entirely outsourcing safety no longer makes sense. The big question: when does this point occur? In this article, we’ll provide you with some guiding thoughts to help you find an answer.
If you want to succeed as a safety leader, it’s not enough to focus solely on logistics and data management — you have to get good at ‘soft skills’ as well.
Soft skills are attributes like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving that enable you to engage with and motivate your researchers to care about safety (they also help in interactions with colleagues and management!).
Without these skills, even the most savvy safety professionals will find themselves fighting a losing battle to get their workforce to carry out safety practices.
To help you hone your craft, we’re writing a series of articles each highlighting a different soft skill. Today’s topic is listening.
Maintaining an accurate chemical inventory is a never-ending job, and one with little margin for error.
That’s why a chemical inventory system is a must for any organization looking to take control of their chemical inventory.
A good chemical inventory system offers a number of advantages that will help you simplify chemical ordering, storage, use, and reporting while reducing the potential for human error. While there may be different ways of reaching these effects, if your system isn’t hitting these notes, it should be a sign that something isn’t working right.
Here are three major advantages of a good chemical inventory system:
Today's federally funded research programs are innovative and fast-paced. But the software they're using isn't.
That's because most laboratory safety, inventory, and reporting software simply doesn't meet federal security guidelines — which means it's not an option for government agencies.
Instead, they’re stuck with decades old software that does not improve and only becomes more obsolete as time goes on.
Getting information out of these outdated systems is like pulling teeth. Researchers spend too much time on tasks that take them away from their research, and EHS teams spend too much time on tasks that take them away from meaningfully improving safety.
In fact, our risk analyses show that EHS staff are forced to waste as much as 50% of their time on administrative tasks that software should be doing for them.
BioRAFT changes all that.
In science, some risks are worth the rewards — like the risk of trying a bold, new approach to a problem. These risks can lead to great discoveries and improve the lives of those around us.
Other risks are not worth taking — like the risk of neglecting safety and, specifically, the risk of neglecting proper priorities, practices, and training.
Ignoring these basic principles can have serious consequences for your researchers and your organization as a whole. But fixing them is no simple task.
A few months ago, we met with the EHS director at a research organization (let's call him Greg).
As we talked with Greg about how hard it was to keep up with the pace of research and how much time EHS staff and researchers were spending on administrative tasks, it became clear that his organization had outgrown its current software system.
Then Greg brought up a problem that almost all organizations experience, and one that's also easily solvable:
"We just don't have the funding we need for new software," he said. "How can we get senior management to give us more resources?"
Our advice: The resources are already there, you just need to know how to unlock them.
Running a safe and efficient research program requires getting really good at how you use your resources and how you spend your time.
One of the best ways to do that, as many organizations, universities, and research institutes have found, is by using software to digitize and centralize their EHS data.
They're able to complete tasks faster, identify gaps in their safety programs, and enable researchers to focus on their research — because they have a single source of truth for their researchers and EHS management.
Not convinced yet? Let's look at 10 reasons to digitize and centralize your laboratory EHS data, according to industry research and our customers.