The Development of a University Laboratory Safety Training Center: An Adventure In Collaboration

Holly Gates-Mayer, University of Colorado Boulder

The Environmental Health and Safety Office at the University of Colorado Boulder is creating a Laboratory Safety Training Center (LSTC) by equipping a space in the Chemistry building with used and donated laboratory equipment. Laboratory equipment includes a chemical fume hood and a biosafety cabinet as this type of equipment provides primary containment for hazardous materials and is critical for providing protection for the user and the environment. Confusion exists regarding differences between biosafety cabinets and chemical fumes hoods including when to use one versus the other. This confusion presents both safety and environmental concerns. The LSTC will engage the students in the proper use and operation of equipment as well as how NOT to set up and operate the equipment. Different laboratory scenarios will be created to allow the student to utilize what they have learned in the lecture portion of laboratory safety training and apply it to solving problems in the training lab and beyond. The LSTC will provide an opportunity for collaboration and problem solving in a safe and inclusive environment where students will be able to identify and evaluate hazardous scenarios and propose preventative and/or corrective actions to address the hazards. The creation of a hand on learning experience will add a new dimension to the EHS laboratory safety-training program by encouraging trainers to move past the Power Point/lecture format and challenge them to utilize their creativity to develop an interactive and engaging learning environment. This project has the added bonus of extending the life of used laboratory equipment by avoiding sending this equipment to the landfill. This learning environment will also provide for an opportunity to point out energy/resource consumption in terms of equipment operation, water consumption, electricity and steam and how these resources can be conserved in the laboratory. This presentation will briefly describe the process for securing initial funding for the project, collaborations developed between various University departments, challenges encountered, Immediate and future training uses for the facility and long range goals.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the process that CU Boulder EHS used for securing funding for this project and be able to identify different sources of funding that may be available;
  • Recognize the value of securing collaboration from a variety of different parties with different interests in the project;
  • Recognize the challenges and opportunities that are inherent in a project like this; and
  • Evaluate the immediate and long terms goals for this type of project.


Holly works at the University of Colorado Boulder as the Biosafety Officer in the Environmental Health and Safety Office. Holly has a B.S. in Wildlife/Fisheries and a M.S. in Microbiology. She has been working in the biosafety field for the past 25 years.


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