Lab Safety Specialist

University of Chicago

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL, USA
Posted on Sunday, October 15, 2023


PME Space, Facilities & Building Management

About the Department

The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) was established in May 2019 and evolved from the Institute for Molecular Engineering, which was founded in 2011. The PME integrates science and engineering to address global challenges from the molecular level up. The PME’s rigorous academic and research programs are made possible through the University of Chicago’s unique partnership with Argonne National Laboratory. The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering is the first new school at the University of Chicago in three decades and the first school in the nation dedicated to molecular engineering. In the next phase of growth as a School, the PME will continue to expand its team of world-class faculty researchers and empower students from diverse backgrounds to collaborate with faculty in cutting-edge facilities. The PME aims to bring solutions for urgent societal problems to the forefront, while training the next generation of scientific leaders and entrepreneurs.

Job Summary

The Laboratory Safety Specialist (LSS) for the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering is responsible for managing and providing technical guidance, training, and inspective/risk analysis of the PME laboratory safety program to ensure a safe environment in which to facilitate research and the pursuit of academic excellence. Laboratory safety includes the delivery of safety services to all facilities involved in research for both laboratories and lab support areas.

In fulfilling these responsibilities, the LSS will liaise with the Office of Research Safety (ORS) on issues related to chemical, biological, radiological, and laser safety, and work closely with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) on life safety and environmental issues. Reporting to the Director of Facilities, the LSS provides input into divisional and University-wide research safety standards, policies, and procedures as a key member of the research safety community in addition to providing input on the allocation of roles and responsibilities for research safety between the ORS and the divisional Laboratory Safety Specialists. The LSS works with the Director of Facilities and PME leadership to develop and implement strategic initiatives to foster a culture of safety at all levels and all areas in PME.


  • Serves as the primary point of contact for PME principal investigators (PI) and research teams and acts as a liaison for these PIs to ORS and EHS on research safety issues. Provides lead support to the PME in concert with the Physical Sciences Division (PSD) and ORS.
  • Stays abreast of any changes within the lab and builds a strong partnership with PIs and their research teams. Collaborates with PIs and/or their delegates on a regular basis as a partner to address research safety needs, meeting as often as necessary to discuss research work performed, safety risks, training and safety material needs, and other measures to mitigate risk.
  • Collaborates with PIs and department staff to assess the needs and procurement of safety equipment and supplies (e.g., personal protective equipment, hazardous materials) for assigned research teams and laboratory research operations.
  • Collaborates with PIs and/or their delegates to assess safety risks and develop appropriate safety controls for research experiments or procedures with significant safety risks with support from the ORS. Partners with the ORS and EHS to identify training offerings and/or assist the PI in determining training elements that the PI will need to provide via team-specific training.
  • Conducts routine tours and demonstrates a regular presence in the laboratories, building a strong partnership with PIs and their research teams. Provides research safety knowledge and support to departments, PIs, and respective research teams with support from the ORS.
  • Collaborates with PME administration and Facilities teams to establish and assess needs for capital projects and new lab construction/renovation.
  • With a moderate level of guidance, interprets University environmental health and safety standards to assist in the design and implementation of programs. Ensures legal compliance and develops procedures. Collaborating with PME and ORS, generates reports to provide detailed and actionable analysis of trends as needed.
  • In partnership with ORS representatives, and in collaboration with departmental personnel, conducts inspections of all research laboratories and lab support areas as determined by risk level for unsafe conditions and work practices. Recommends corrective actions and performs follow-up verification of deficiency correction status. Monitors implementation of controls and corrective actions.
  • Reviews and researches appropriate hazard control and mitigation strategies, including engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment; and supports faculty and research support staff in the implementation of these control strategies.
  • In collaboration with ORS, conducts orientation training sessions with new PIs, staff, and incoming students, ensuring they understand their research safety roles and responsibilities and how to acquire required support.
  • Serves on laboratory safety related committees and participates in departmental and campus-wide work groups to facilitate laboratory injury prevention, best fact practices, and lessons learned. Participates as a member of the emergency response team including the rotation of On-Call Safety Officer and responds to emergency incidents. Participates in the investigation of all research accidents/illnesses.
  • Monitors overall safety compliance, including compliance of laboratory safety equipment (e.g., fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, fume hood certifications), and provides information and data to both the ORS and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) in support of regulatory agency laboratory safety inspections. Assists labs in maintaining training records in Environmental Health and Safety Assistant (EHSA) or other data management software in a timely manner, for the purposes of access to secure labs and other areas.
  • Plans and executes surveys, audits, and inspections of instruments, laboratories, and other facilities to ensure compliance with government and University policies and procedures. Analyzes data and initiatives immediate corrective action plans and follow-up to ensure implementation.
  • Performs risk analysis on the University's environmental and occupational health and safety programs and implements alternatives or improvements to current programs.
  • Performs other related work as needed.

Minimum Qualifications


Minimum requirements include a college or university degree in related field.

Work Experience:

Minimum requirements include knowledge and skills developed through 2-5 years of work experience in a related job discipline.


Driver's License - Multiple States


Preferred Qualifications


  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in STEM field.


  • Engineering, biotechnology or bioengineering background.
  • Experience with live cell cultures, human tissue, animal husbandry.
  • Five plus years of experience in a laboratory or related industry (chemical manufacturing, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, research laboratory, etc.).
  • Competence in electrical safety matters, particularly in a research setting.
  • Experience in chemical hygiene/laboratory safety practices.


  • Relevant certifications (e.g., hazardous materials technician or higher classification, certified safety professional, certified industrial hygienist, safety management certificate, qualification in laboratory safety).
  • Within the first six months of employment, obtain medical clearances for using respiratory protection necessary for HAZMAT response as well as 40-hour HAZWOPER certification.
  • Valid driver’s license and ability to successfully complete the University’s Motor Vehicle Records check process.

Technical Skills of Knowledge:

  • Proficient in Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of safety issues related to the operation of overhead cranes and fall protection.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of federal, state, and local environmental health and safety codes, regulations, and ordinances.
  • Knowledge of basic principles of laboratory safety and chemical hazards, cryogens, lasers.
  • Knowledge of electrical safety issues is highly desired.

Preferred Competencies

  • Detail-oriented and prepare documents and/or reports as necessary.
  • Maintain professionalism, credibility, and good service delivery practices when dealing with all contacts, internal and external.
  • Remain calm and objective throughout stressful and unpleasant situations. Make timely, sound decisions and accept concomitant responsibility.
  • Communicate effectively and consistently with others using tact when necessary.
  • Manage sensitive emergency situations.
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with the general public and members of the University community.
  • Work with people of various ages and backgrounds and with diverse constituencies, including students, parents, faculty, and staff in the University and the Medical Center.
  • Skill to build consensus and credibility across the campus.
  • Resolve conflicts and manage sensitive emergency situations appropriately.
  • Demonstrated self-restraint in challenging and/or difficult situations.
  • Mentally and physically react effectively, quickly, calmly, and rationally during times of conflict and emergencies.
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of constituencies.
  • High level of writing and presentation skills for both groups and one-on-one.
  • Synthesize complex material to assist decision-making and to communicate priorities.
  • Manage multiple tasks and competing priorities simultaneously.
  • Considerable skill in working both independently and as part of a team.
  • Demonstrated outstanding written, verbal, analytical, and interpersonal skills.

Working Conditions

  • On-call and available to work nights, weekends, and holidays as necessary.

Application Documents

  • Resume/CV (required)
  • Cover Letter (preferred)
  • Professional References Contact List (3) (required)

When applying, the document(s) MUST be uploaded via the My Experience page, in the section titled Application Documents of the application.

Job Family

Legal & Regulatory Affairs

Role Impact

Individual Contributor

FLSA Status


Pay Frequency


Scheduled Weekly Hours


Benefits Eligible


Drug Test Required


Health Screen Required


Motor Vehicle Record Inquiry Required


Posting Statement

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, military or veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.

Staff Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-5800 or submit a request via Applicant Inquiry Form.

We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages a diversity of perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange.

All offers of employment are contingent upon a background check that includes a review of conviction history. A conviction does not automatically preclude University employment. Rather, the University considers conviction information on a case-by-case basis and assesses the nature of the offense, the circumstances surrounding it, the proximity in time of the conviction, and its relevance to the position.

The University of Chicago's Annual Security & Fire Safety Report (Report) provides information about University offices and programs that provide safety support, crime and fire statistics, emergency response and communications plans, and other policies and information. The Report can be accessed online at: Paper copies of the Report are available, upon request, from the University of Chicago Police Department, 850 E. 61st Street, Chicago, IL 60637.