Laboratory Safety Specialist - Physical Science - 35192

Updated: 6 months ago
Location: Evanston, ILLINOIS

Job Summary:

Under departmental direction, the Laboratory Safety Specialist administers comprehensive environmental health and safety programs to Northwestern University's academic and research communities. The primary function of this position is to oversee safety compliance of research laboratories, including inspecting assigned research spaces, providing follow up assistance as needed, documenting findings in safety management systems, and preparing summary reports of identified safety hazards. This position focuses specifically on program support for laser safety, electrical safety and radiation safety.

Please note: Must carry a cell phone, pager at all times while at work. May be required to wear a pager during off-hours.  Incumbent must be physically capable of hazardous materials response: wearing chemical protective clothing and a self-contained breathing apparatus (including respirators) during emergency response. Must pass pre-employment physical screening. Fit to carry 50lbs, walk extensively.  Must have no medical condition that would interfere with performing essential job functions.

Job Scope

This position performs risk assessments, hazard analysis, safety audits and promotes safe work practices for Northwestern University research laboratories. The incumbent will work with the principal investigators, researchers and administrators in assigned departments to develop policies, procedures and strategies to mitigate safety hazards on campus. This role will serve as a specialist for the laboratory safety group in Evanston. Safety support services include laser safety inspections, radiation safety inspections, response to laboratory emergencies, incident investigations and other responsibilities as needed.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Works with principal investigators and researchers to integrate safety procedures into laboratory operations. Promotes safe work practices based on regulatory requirements, incident experience, best management practice, and University policy. Performs risk and industrial hygiene assessments and safety audits, and drafts performance reports. Works with lab safety team to make recommendations on appropriate laboratory safety practices and hazard mitigation. Use safety management systems for documentation and metrics.
  • Collaborates with Research Safety staff to learn and assist other program areas such as laser safety, electrical safety or radiation safety. Assists with inspections, sampling, documentation, reporting and follow up of cross-functional areas. Able to assist Evanston and Chicago campus as needed.
  • Serves as a “First Responder” for HAZMAT and laboratory emergencies on campus. Individual must willing to carry a cell phone, pager at while at work and occasionally provide after hours and weekend support for emergencies when needed. Capable of wearing up to Level B PPE. Assist with training and outreach with emergency response authorities.
  • Assist with maintaining emergency response, industrial hygiene and radiation detection equipment. Support respiratory protection program by conducting fit testing for respirator users. Prepare proposals for new safety products, policies or training. Interact with non-research personnel to ensure compliance with environmental and safety regulations.
  • Performs other technical and administrative responsibilities as directed. Improves own professional skills through conferences, professional development, training and acquiring certifications.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering, physics, chemistry, other physical science or safety program. 
  • 2-4 years of experience in a laboratory, safety or science related field.
  • Must be physically fit to carry at least 50lbs, walk extensively, and be capable of wearing chemical protective clothing including respirators or SCBA. Must have no medical condition that would interfere with performing essential job functions.

Minimum Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities.)

  • Adept learner capable of receiving training and coaching in advanced subject matter such as science or technology and mastering material over time.
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills. Ability to work with individuals from many cultural backgrounds and varying language skills.
  • Demonstrated written and oral presentation skills, ability to keep careful records, complete assigned forms, follow up as necessary to meet identified needs.
  • Self-motivated to work independently following established policies and procedures.
  • Excellent skills in computer programs and applications.
  • Excellent skills in problem solving, time management, teamwork and project management.
  • Outstanding ability to set priorities, to meet deadlines, and to work independently.
  • Outstanding ability to take initiative and manage projects with minimum supervision.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in engineering, physics, chemistry, other physical science or safety program. 
  • 4-7 years of experience in a laboratory, safety or science related field.
  • Knowledge of electrical safety, lasers safety or radiation safety.
  • Knowledge of EHS safety systems, equipment and reporting metrics.

Preferred Competencies: (Skills, knowledge, and abilities)

  • Professional level certifications in areas such as OSHA, HAZWOPER, Safety, First Aid, Emergency Response.
  • Experience working within an academic research institution.
  • Experience developing and conducting training in various EHS topics.
  • Experience recognizing hazards and conducting inspections.
  • Participation and response in HAZMAT emergencies.
  • Experience addressing employee environmental health and safety concerns.
  • Implementing environmental health and safety programs.
  • Performing environmental or occupational sampling and preparing technical reports.


Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.


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