As the state’s land-grant university, Washington State University research finds solutions to today’s challenges. Our classrooms and laboratories act as centers for learning and discovery. We provide an environment that is conducive for education to grow knowledge and research to develop new innovations. Knowledge flourishes in this environment when faculty and staff are safe to engage in open dialogue and conduct ethical research.
Guided by the tenets of ethical and responsible conduct of research, the OR is proactive in its continuous improvement of safety protocols and streamlining processes for better efficiency. The OR supports WSU researchers by providing the necessary programs, training, and administrative backing to ensure that researchers comply with federal, state, and institutional regulations and policies.
One of the main responsibilities of WSU’s leadership team is to uphold a culture of safety and maintain a safe environment for our researchers, students, participants, and the communities we serve. OR is an active participant in the University’s safety program, co-chairing (with the vice president for finance and administration) the level 1 Executive Leadership SHS Advisory Committee. Level 1 advises new or revisions to SHS policies and procedures from proposals received from level 2 committees and authorizes level 2 safety committees to develop safety, health, or security protocols or procedures.
Within the Office of Research, the Office of Research Assurances (ORA) is tasked with administering the day-to-day work of the Presidential regulatory committees that oversee research with animals, biological agents, humans, and radiation. These and the other level 2 SHS Committees provide technical and regulatory advice and support to the Level 1 committee on matters of policy and procedure relating to safety, health, and security. In particular, the ORA, led by Mike Kluzik, in collaboration with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), coordinates the committees that promote laboratory and research safety. These committees also develop, coordinate, and communicate safety, health, and security policies, procedures, and guidelines for all of the University’s operations, including regional campuses and extension units.
The Office of Research is closely involved in University-wide efforts to promote safety initiatives, like the WSU Safety, Health and Security Fair, launched by the Steering SHS Committee. This year’s Safety Fair will take place on Tuesday, October 22, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., in the CUB Senior and Junior Ballrooms. The Safety Fair will highlight the University’s commitment to ensuring safety, health, and security of faculty, staff, and students. Fair attendees will discover what resources are available, attend live trainings, speak with the experts, meet the people who keep our campus safe, and get information from more than 50 vendors. An award ceremony will also take place to recognize the outstanding health and safety contributions made by individuals and groups across the University.
To further promote safety, the Office of Research began conducting year-round lab walk-through visits by the vice president for research. These visits provide opportunities to positively engage WSU faculty, staff, and students regarding safety and to identify ways the OR can better support the University’s safety efforts. They are not regulatory compliance inspections, but instead, are opportunities for laboratory personnel to provide the VPR feedback regarding safety. Since their first walk-through in early 2018, VPR Keane and ORA director Kluzik have conducted nine visits. Promoting best practices for safety in research is key to mitigating potential hazards and risks.
Safety is a critical component of research. The Office of Research is steadfast in its commitment to lead the WSU community in the shared responsibility of conducting research that is safe and ethical.