Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

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Transporting ESD’s Safety Culture

by: ESD Safety Coordinator Vivi Fissekidou (x5610)


Vivi Fissekidou, David Singer & Ben Gilbert
In addition to the global impact of its innovative science, LBNL has recently seen its safety culture—specifically the Earth Sciences Division’s (ESD’s) standard safety practices—transported as a model for others to follow. Thanks to David Singer, who worked as a post doc for four years in the ESD, Berkeley Lab’s and ESD safety culture traveled with him to his new job in Ohio as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology at Kent State University.  “At Earth Sciences I worked with robust and well-maintained safety procedures, and I was keen to bring some of the Lab’s safety culture with me when I started my own lab from scratch,” says Singer.


Singer set up safety guidelines and protocols based on ESD safety documentation, and adopted the approach of creating a lab-specific safety primer on particular hazards and best practices. In the ESD Nanogeoscience lab where he worked, the primer (prepared by ESD’s Ben Gilbert and Vivi Fissekidou) discussed common tasks, including handling natural nanoparticles and changing gas cylinders, as well as relevant work authorizations and documentation of on-the-job training for the work performed in the lab.

For his new group, Singer produced a lab-specific primer that supported Kent State’s own Office of Research Safety policies. His primer is meant to serve as a contract for all researchers working in his new lab. It establishes an integrated safety management approach, which assures that waste and risk are minimized in the course of meeting project goals. Singer started his new position at Kent State last summer and spent the fall semester outfitting his new lab. His research group will conduct work in environmental mineralogy and geochemistry, focusing on the fate and transport of metals and radionuclides in the environment. The group is conducting laboratory experiments to determine the partitioning of aqueous heavy metals and radionuclides onto mineral surfaces.

Singer says he plans to share his primer with the Kent State safety committee and others in the research community to help spread the word, as well as help them adapt these protocols and guidelines to their own laboratories.