I mentioned earlier about the tragic accident at a UCLA lab that cost the life of a researcher. I will say that this accident isn't unique, and that the culture of very lax safety concerns at universities is more of the norm rather than the exception.
Science Career section this week has an article on the culture of safety, or the lack thereof, at many educational institution. It basically reiterates what I had written. One only needs to go to many of the user facilities at various US Nat'l labs, and talk to personnel in charge of safety at these facilities. They'll tell you some of the problems they often have with users coming in from educational institutions who simply consider safety guidelines and enforcement as being nothing more than hindrance to their jobs.
Certainly the safety paranoia can be taken to an extreme. But for me, I'd rather know what I should be doing, rather than being left bumbling in the dark and not know what is the proper way of doing something, or where I can go to seek assistance when I don't know. After all, the person that has the greatest vested interest in my safety is not the safety officer, not my boss, and not the institution that I'm working for. That person is ME!