Compliance Corner: If you see something, say something!

Fifty-one years ago, a woman named Catherine Susan "Kitty" Genovese was stabbed to death near her home in New York City. Newspaper headlines at the time claimed that thirty-eight witnesses heard Genovese’s cries for help in an attack lasting almost 30 minutes, but did nothing.

This view of the facts likely was wrong, but the event (and this characterization) prompted famous studies confirming the bystander effect. We all tend not to take responsibility for reacting to a problem when there are others present, because each of us individually assumes that someone else is responsible or has already taken action. The bystander effect becomes stronger in larger groups of people, and when responsibility has not been explicitly assigned.

Why does this matter? In our labs and work spaces, we all can come across risks or problems: threats to lab safety, risks of data loss, and hazardous material security issues. Because we work in groups, it often is easy to assume that “someone else” is responsible.

Please do not let yourself be a bystander. Do not assume that someone else knows about an issue and has addressed it.

If you see something, say something: report issues to your supervisor, to your building coordinator, or to your EHS Laboratory Safety Officer. Thank you for your continued commitment to making The Ohio State University a safe place for everyone!