UCCLS Receives CSEMA Innovation Award of Honor

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The UCLA Center for Laboratory Safety, directed by Professor Craig Merlic, has received a 2017 CSHEMA Innovation Award.

UCCLS executive director Merlic, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and his colleagues were recognized for their work with the UCCLS. Professor Nancy Wayne (UCLA Physiology), Chair of the UCCLS advisory board and associate vice chancellor of research, was also honored individually. 

Merlic, Wayne, UCCLS research project manager Professor Imke Schroeder (UCLA Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics), and UCCLS research project leader Dr. Elizabeth Czornyj were honored at the Campus Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) national meeting in Tucson, Arizona in July 2017.

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From left, Elizabeth Czornyj, Craig Merlic, Imke Schroeder and Nancy Wayne were recognized for their work with the UC Center for Laboratory Safety, while Wayne was also honored individually.

In a UCLA Newsroom article about the awards, Professor Miguel García-Garibay, dean of the division of physical sciences, describes the UC Center for Laboratory Safety’s work as the “gold standard in laboratory safety in the United States.”

Merlic’s work as the nation’s foremost academic laboratory safety expert was highlighted in a 2016 UCLA Newsroom in an in-depth article.

From the UCCLS announcement:

The University of California Center for Laboratory Safety (UCCLS) received a 2017 CSHEMA Innovation Award of Honor at the CSHEMA National Meeting in Tucson Arizona last week.  The Center is directed by Professor Craig Merlic of the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. The Campus Safety, Health, and Environmetal Management Association (CSHEMA) was created to support and empower campus-based environmental health and safety (EHS) professionals. Founded in 1954, CSHEMA has a long history of service to the college, university, and research communities.

UCCLS was recognized for creating a unique association of colleges and universities that produces and shares high quality online training modules on laboratory safety for researchers. This association is called the Safety Training Consortium (STC) and it now provides high caliber safety training materials for laboratory personnel in colleges and universities across the nation. Safety education plays a critical role for research and teaching institutions and so this consortium administered by the UCCLS addresses a key need in laboratory safety.  

Until now there was no stand-alone product for laboratory-specific online training and no single academic institution could afford to create a complete library of safety training courses. Thus, UCCLS created the Safety Training Consortium as a non-profit organization to fill the gap. In this innovative approach, dozens of colleges and universities join together to provide course content material and subject matter expertise to develop high quality, engaging, up-to-date online laboratory safety courses by working together with a contracted professional eLearning company with established knowledge in creating effective online courses.

The STC online safety courses satisfy OSHA regulatory mandates, are appealing to researchers and provide flexibility to the researcher and their academic institution alike. Presentation characteristics of the courses include many innovative features, but also follow regulatory mandates are include the following features:

  • Courses are specifically developed to educate researchers in areas related to laboratory safety.  
  • Courses are OSHA and Cal/OSHA compliant. Courses also conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 
  • Courses can be customized to fit institutions’ needs and can be modified with the institution’s logo and institution-specific information. 
  • Courses are high quality, interactive and engaging. Courses include imbedded videos and animations to facilitate and enhance the learning experience and provide interactive features to allow researchers to explore material based on their own interest. 
  • Researchers have flexibility when taking the courses to begin at their convenience, interrupt and return to where they left off. They are not bound to accommodate in-class schedules. 
  • Each course ends with a test that researchers must pass in order to receive certificates of completion. Results are recorded by each institution’s learning management system (LMS). 
  • Course certificates are cross-certifiable, such that member institutions recognize each other’s course certificates and researchers need not take the course again if they move to a member instruction. 

The Consortium has a pricing structure for universities that permits cost effective safety training of researchers at about $1.50 per researcher per year thus providing the STC funds for the development of new courses and regular updating of existing courses to keep up with safety recommendations and changing regulatory policies. This cost-sharing concept of creating and sharing online safety training courses has appealed to many universities and colleges. Since its founding by the UC Center for Laboratory Safety in 2014 and course development commencing in 2015, STC membership has grown to more than 40 universities. Thus, the organization is impacting thousands of research.

Photos by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.