Dr Simon Ndirangu, Bioanalytical Laboratory at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)/Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya discusses the importance of implementing occupational health and safety standards in research settings. Effective occupational health and safety programmes reduce work related injuries and illnesses, improve morale and productivity and reduce workers' compensation costs. The success of these programmes relies on committed management, adequate risk assessment, hazard prevention and control and appropriate health and safety training.