When is something an accident?
Jun15

When is something an accident?

This New York Times story from May reminded me of some people’s distaste for calling laboratory incidents “accidents”: It’s No Accident: Advocates Want to Speak of Car ‘Crashes’ Instead Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers. Just don’t call them accidents anymore. That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error. “When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health. … Changing semantics is meant to shake people, particularly policy makers, out of the implicit nobody’s-fault attitude that the word “accident” conveys, they said. The semantics of accident came up around the Honolulu Fire Department investigation report about the University of Hawaii explosion. The fire department called the event an “accident” because the explosion wasn’t set off intentionally. But the University of Hawaii lab was working with a hazardous mixture of gases using inappropriate equipment. The information in the fire department report indicates that the explosion was foreseeable and preventable. Is it therefore appropriate to call the explosion an accident? Does anyone know of a lab incident that could truly be called accidental in that that chemicals involved behaved contrary to their known...

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“Improve lab safety culture” webinar
Jun14

“Improve lab safety culture” webinar

Coming up on June 30 is a webinar “to familiarize EH&S professionals and researchers” with the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) “Guide to implementing a Safety Culture in our Universities” that came out in April. From the webinar registration page: Learning Objectives: • What is the APLU/AAU Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities, and how is it different from other guidelines that came before (e.g., NAS and ACS guidelines)? • What is the role of the President or Chancellor, VPR, and EH&S leadership in implementing the recommendations? • How can EH&S best engage campus leadership and researchers in learning about and helping implement the guidelines and toolkit? • What are the recommendations and tools available to EH&S for developing or improving a culture of lab safety? • How can the research and health & safety communities get involved in updating the Guide by adding tools and resources? The moderator will be: Nancy Wayne, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Professor of Physiology, University of California, Los Angeles; APLU Lab Safety Task Force Member The panelists will be: Mark McClellan, Vice President for Research and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Utah State University; APLU Lab Safety Task Force Co-Chair Taylor Eighmy, Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; APLU Lab Safety Task Force Co-Chair Kacy Redd, Director, Science & Mathematics Education Policy, APLU; APLU Lab Safety Task Force...

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Report on U Hawaii explosion delayed until the end of June
May24

Report on U Hawaii explosion delayed until the end of June

From the University of Hawaii, the latest on one of the investigations into the March explosion that caused a postdoctoral researcher to lose one of her arms: The independent investigation into the March 16, 2016 explosion in a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa laboratory is now expected to be complete by end of June 2016. The University of California Center for Laboratory Safety, retained by UH to conduct the investigation, has arranged to test certain materials. The final completion of the investigation report is dependent on the testing and the test results. The investigation was originally to be completed by the end of April, then the University of Hawaii said late...

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“Safety Begins in the Classroom” videos now available from #ACSSanDiego
May19

“Safety Begins in the Classroom” videos now available from #ACSSanDiego

ACS has now posted videos from the National Meeting held in March in San Diego, including those from the Division of Chemical Health & Safety’s session on “Safety Begins in the Classroom: Demonstrations, Awareness & Pre-Lab Planning”: “Wild, wild west to GHS: Reflections on my first year as a general chemistry laboratory coordinator,” by Rebecca Sansom & Matthew B. Allen of Brigham Young University “Chemical demonstrations: The good, the bad, the ugly,” by David A. Katz, self-described “chemist, educator, expert demonstrator, science communicator, and consultant” “Development of demonstrations – a collaborative project between the safety office and teaching assistants,” by Debbie Decker & Joshua Greenfield of the University of California, Davis The division already posted slides from this and other sessions at the...

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Videos on nitric acid waste and vented caps
May18

Videos on nitric acid waste and vented caps

Northwestern University’s Office for Research Safety has two new videos available: One is about nitric acid and what happens when it’s mixed with organic materials, and the other is about using vented caps. vimeo Video | w=640 h=360 Nitric Acid Waste from ORS Safety Training on Vimeo. vimeo Video | w=640 h=360 Vented Caps from ORS Safety Training on Vimeo. My spreadsheet of safety videos is available here. As always, please let me know if I should add...

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