International lab safety survey results available

Early results of an international survey of researchers’ attitudes to laboratory safety were made available today. The survey was conducted by Nature Publishing Group, commissioned by the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety and BioRAFT, a web-based laboratory safety and compliance management system. Early results are reported in this week’s issue of Nature, and the UC Center for Laboratory Safety are analysing the data further for future publication.

The survey attracted over 2000 anonymous responses, and is the most comprehensive international study to look at the culture of lab safety to date. The three partners are clear that the results are preliminary starting points for further study, and that many questions remain.

“One of the key challenges in lab safety is how to get people not just to comply with lab safety guidelines but to care about lab safety,” said Nathan Watson, CEO and President of BioRAFT. “The results of this survey provide a helpful starting point in tackling this sensitive topic.” Digital Science invested in privately-held BioRAFT in June 2012.

According to the Nature news report, ‘The biggest barriers to improving safety in the lab were “time and hassle” and “apathy”, scientists said. “If I could have selected apathy three times over, I would have,” one scientist wrote.’

Topline data from the survey are available on figshare at

The Nature news story is available here: A related editorial is also in this week’s issue of Nature: