In 2005, two major accidents occurred at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL). Although there were no injuries, the material damages resulted in high financial losses. The management of safety was restructured as a consequence. One of the major changes consisted in the introduction of laboratory safety coordinators (CoSec) and since then, each research unit has to nominate one of its members to take on this function. The CoSec system has significantly helped increase the efficiency and the quality of the flow of safety observations and information between the safety coordinators, safety officers, and the laboratory members.
This system has the benefit of providing insights into the safety in each laboratory. The Safety Competence Center, a specialized Occupational Health and Safety team, has conducted a survey among the CoSecs to gain insight into the Safety Climate at EPFL. Information on whether laboratory members feel that their colleagues comply to the safety rules of the School and whether their professor supports the laboratory members in taking time for safety related tasks provides the SCC with directions for safety behaviour improvements. Subsets of the CoSec population defined by position at the School and background indicates a difference of safety perception. This tool therefore enables the SCC to create projects, focalize its efforts and resources, and set priorities to address the issues brought up by the CoSecs.