Learning from oil spill disasters
Jul22

Learning from oil spill disasters

In last week’s issue of C&EN, I had  a story that looked  back at the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon oil spills, with an eye toward lessons learned for addressing future spills. I focused on the environmental clean-up, not on the process safety problems that led to the incidents, but there was one talk from the University of New Hampshire Oil Spill Response Forum held last fall that I wanted to flag here. The speaker was...

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Unequal risk
Jul21

Unequal risk

I’m out of the office this week, so here’s some reading: The Center for Public Integrity’s multi-part series called “Unequal Risk,” focusing on worker chemical exposures. A few examples: Slow-motion tragedy for American workers The impenetrable world of Mark Flores, the disabled son of a woman who was exposed to lead and methanol when working at an electronics company pregnant A history of OSHA: After 44...

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Will a new overtime threshold affect postdocs for the worse?
Jul15

Will a new overtime threshold affect postdocs for the worse?

From a discussion about whether the Department of Labor’s proposed expansion of overtime eligibility will raise postdoc pay, a rather worrying comment: At many Uni’s, postdocs are classified in some nebulous category somewhere between grad student and indentured servant. My university (top 5 in total NIH funding) does not pay payroll taxes or withhold federal taxes, thus furthering their claim that we are not employees,...

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DuPont named severe violator by OSHA
Jul10

DuPont named severe violator by OSHA

The Department of Labor announced yesterday that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has placed DuPont in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, following a 2014 methyl mercaptan leak that killed four workers and injured a fifth at a DuPont plant in La Porte, Texas. In May, 2015, OSHA cited DuPont for 14 safety violations and proposed fines totaling $99,000. The citations were for: 29 CPR 191...

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More Prudent Practices info available
Jul08

More Prudent Practices info available

From the National Academies Press, updated information on Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Prudent Practices in the Laboratory has been updated online to include a download of the files that were previously only available on a CD with the print edition. This zip file is available on the Resources tab and contains a corrected version of the Chemical Compatibility Storage Codes. The full contents of the zip file are as follows:...

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Play it safe with fireworks
Jul02

Play it safe with fireworks

From my local newspaper last week: SAN JOSE — When Alazar Ortiz woke up at Regional Medical Center the morning after the Fourth of July last year, his gaze immediately went to the two huge fists of bandages and gauze at the end of his forearms. “I didn’t know what I had left,” said the 40-year-old San Jose resident. “So I tried to move my fingers, and I went ‘Wow. I don’t have any...

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Improving laboratory explosion protection
Jun30

Improving laboratory explosion protection

A guest post by Ralph Stuart, secretary of the ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety (DCHAS). A member of the DCHAS e-mail list recently pointed out to me a story in the Milwaukee Sentinel’s archives about a laboratory explosion in 1957. The story reported: Waukesha, Oct. 25 (AP) A Carroll College senior was reported in good condition Friday despite suffering injuries that led to the loss of his left eye after fluid, said to...

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Pregnancy and chemical lab safety
Jun25

Pregnancy and chemical lab safety

A query from my inbox last week: Are there any safety resources for women scientists who are pregnant, other than MSDSs? The short answer to this question is that your best resources is likely to be the safety office at your school or workplace. Otherwise, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health has a page with information on reproductive health and the workplace, as does the University of California, Davis. Yale...

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