Leads to certification
Lab Safety / Lab Safety Management Certificate


This stream focuses on four risk related topics:

  • Risk Assessing and Characterizing (assessing and characterizing risk including risk tools)
  • Risk Communication and Decision-Making (perceiving and communicating risk, decision-making, and judgment under uncertainty)
  • Risk Management and Mitigation (hierarchy of control, personal protection equipment)
  • Life Safety (fires, exits, work areas, maximum allowable quantities)

Risk isn’t an easy concept. It’s much more about our cognitive perceptions of it and the systems we put in place, than merely a two-factor matrix of severity and probability. The degree to which we willingly implement effective risk related systems and are honest with ourselves about our cognitive biases, the better our risk management will be. One risk that all labs face is fire.

Curriculum content

  • Risk is a human construct helping us stay safe and alive. There is so much more to risk than the simple equation, risk equals severity times exposure times probability [R = S x E x P]. There are many tools and techniques to help us determine risk. One used in labs is called RAMP. We’ll explore all of this and more. Learning Outcomes: Define hazard, safety, and risk, Explain a 2-level and a 3-level risk matrix, Compare and contrast possibility vs. probability, List at least five risk assessment methods or tools, Describe the RAMP risk assessment method.
    • Lesson Risk

  • Once we’ve decided we have significant risk and assessed it properly, we need to determine some suitable and adequate means to mitigate or reduce our risks. As we detailed in our Technical Topics stream of courses, the hierarchy of controls is the primary means by which we decide how and in what order to implement hazard control methods. We always want to control the hazard, as much as possible, before it reaches us. Hint: PPE isn’t at the top of the order. Learning Outcomes: List the steps of the hierarchy of controls in order, Explain why PPE is so important given its relative position in the hierarchy, Describe the uses of isolation and work practices as two levels that don’t always appear in the hierarchy, List at least three benefits of collaborating to help implement hazard controls, Describe how a multi-disciplinary team helps develop more effective approaches.
  • Sometimes, odd perceptions of risk drive our decision-making or what is called, “judgment under uncertainty”. Our affective risk system drives decisions over our analytical one. Similarly, our fast thinking makes many decisions in the moment. Communicating all of this and our perceptions is a challenge. Learning Outcomes: Compare and contrast our analytical (logical) risk system vs. our experiential (affective) risk system, Describe our weirdly, widely, and wildly varying risk perceptions, List at least seven cognitive biases that affect our decisions, Compare and contrast system 1 (fast) vs. system 2 (slow) thinking, Explain the meaning behind the phrase “judgment under uncertainty,” Defend the use of stories for risk communicating risk.
  • If there is one risk that we all face together, it’s a fire. Life safety is mostly about fires, exits, chemical maximum allowable quantities, building codes, and walking and working surfaces. Other chemical hazards are covered in the chemical hygiene course. This course is about helping everyone get out alive. Learning Outcomes: Explain the basis of life safety codes, Defend the need for improved and consistent risk assessment throughout a process or experiment, including any changes to it, Describe at least three human factors involved with fires, Explain how maximum allowable quantities can impact an entire floor of labs, List several building occupancy classifications and state how it impacts lab construction and use, Describe how exits play a critical role in life safety, Defend the value of several engineering controls for safety/risk, as well as increased productivity of space, Identify who typically has final say over life safety decisions.