Administration and Finance Focus


Lisa Benford, Biological & Chemical Safety Manager

Lisa Benford is the Biological and Chemical Safety Manager for the University of Houston, an important role which lends itself to a lot of responsibilities on campus.

Lisa has worked for the Environmental Health and Risk Management (EHRM) Department for nearly five years, and one of her primary duties is to interact with faculty, staff and students regarding biological and chemical safety. She said that this is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job. �Since I strive to customize my training to diverse audiences, all interactions are equally rewarding,� she said.

Lisa is also the Biological Safety Officer for the University, which involves registering UH�s Institutional Biosafety Committee with the National Institute of Health, and ensuring that any experiments with biological hazards are reviewed by the Committee. She also reviews and approves any purchases or transfers of biohazardous materials when the vendor requests EHRM approval.

Additional responsibilities include facilitating laboratory safety audits, , and supporting Animal Care Operations and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee regarding animal-related safety concerns.

In addition to these roles, Lisa�s job involves regular safety training to the University community as a whole, and she has developed web-based training to support these efforts. All of her activities support the University�s Tier-One initiative, as she partners with researchers to make their laboratories safe.

When asked to list one of the most challenging aspects of her position, Lisa explained, �It�s sometimes difficult to consider safety as an integral part of the laboratory experience when there has not been any reported laboratory accidents. I endeavor to focus on laboratory accident prevention through training and consultations. The goal is that EHRM is seen as a �facilitator� and not a �regulator�.�

As far as safety concerns of which students should be aware, Lisa said, �Promoting the health and safety of the students is our number one priority! We understand that it is easy to become comfortable and complacent in the laboratory. We want them to �think safety�. We also believe in the old adage- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.�