Enhancement and application of a risk assessment technique for research and teaching laboratories

Risk management became an important element of the modern society. Being aware of risks and take appropriate actions to handle them are crucial elements in most industries, especially the ones for which the consequences of undesired events reach disastrous extents. To do this, risk management techniques were developed to systematically identify hazardous elements and assess the related risks. Accidents occurring at universities can lead to serious consequences, even though their scale is often smaller when compared to industry. However, most of the well-established risk management techniques are not applicable for the research and teaching environment. These techniques require clearly defined processes and resources, which are not easily provided for the academic setting. Moreover, the research setting differs significantly from the industrial due to its peculiarities (high turnover of personnel, scarce statistical data, equipment in experimental state, etc.). The intention of this dissertation is to further investigate these topics and to present a solution to fill the gaps. Thus, different risk management approaches are reviewed and the demands of an ideal method for risk management applicable to research setting are postulated. These requirements are met by development of the Laboratory Assessment and Risk Analysis (LARA), a method that was enhanced and tested at different Swiss Universities in the framework of this dissertation. The results of the LARA use in the field suggest that this technique leads to suitable results and allows managing risks at universities, regardless of the character of hazard met. Used in an existing safety framework, LARA can help to allocate resources in an optimal way by taking into account the specificities of research environment and therefore improve the occupational safety level significantly.

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