2.6 Inspections

The Research Safety Program is responsible for maintaining a coordinated audit program for research laboratories. See the Laboratory Inspection Program for more details.


Auditing is a key component of any safety program and is particularly critical in a university research environment where there is diffuse supervision and a high rate of turnover among graduate students.


This program aims to:

  • Encourage continuous improvement in laboratory work practices and ensure laboratory facility conditions meet a minimum standard
  • Ensure all laboratories are audited at a set frequency
  • Establish, measure, and communicate performance metrics
  • Educate and train lab personnel in basic laboratory safety procedures
  • Augment existing supervision in the research community
  • Instill accountability for safety and compliance with laboratory personnel
  • Build safety advocacy skills among all participants

Process Description

  1. Research Safety will identify key safety performance indicators. These are intended to represent basic safety items that should provide an indication that labs are paying attention to safety in the laboratory. These items will not constitute a full compliance audit.
  2. Performance indicators will be distributed through individual departments to every laboratory.
  3. Research Safety Staff will partner with Department Safety Officers (DSOs) or other department contacts to schedule and perform audits of each laboratory.
  4. High risk labs are inspected annually, low risk labs every two years. Audit frequency may be adjusted by department request.
  5. Research Safety Staff will provide laboratory contacts and PIs a written summary of audit findings, along with a 30-day timeline where they are expected to address deficiencies.
  6. Research Safety will record and track audit results and laboratory responses.
  7. Research Safety will tabulate and distribute metrics to University and departmental leadership, and others as appropriate.


Metrics will be tabulated by Research Safety and distributed to University leadership as well as departmental leadership and appropriate committees.

Lab Self-Inspections

General laboratory conditions must be monitored periodically by the users. A laboratory self-inspection form is included in our online resources, and may be tailored for use by individual laboratories. The DSO or the Research Safety Professional may also use this form for spot-checks of the laboratories.