Hydrocyanation without using hydrogen cyanide
Feb23

Hydrocyanation without using hydrogen cyanide

From this week’s C&EN, a method to conduct hydrocyanation without using hydrogen cyanide and–bonus!–with reversibility: Xianjie Fang, Peng Yu, and Bill Morandi of the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research use a nickel catalyst as a shuttle to pluck hydrogen and a cyano group from a donor nitrile and transfer them to an alkene to form a nitrile. The team shows the reaction is useful to make aryl nitriles and for functionalizing biomolecules such as tyrosine and estrone. In addition, the transfer hydrocyanation is made reversible on demand by selecting starting reagents that control the thermodynamic equilibrium of the reaction—the nitriles can be reverted to complementary alkenes. The team uses this retrohydrocyanation to make styrene, terpene, and aliphatic alkene derivatives from nitriles. The paper is in Science, DOI:...

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National Safety Stand-Down May 2-6
Feb18

National Safety Stand-Down May 2-6

What safety thing do you know you need to do but haven’t yet managed: Lab clean-out? Emergency drill? Write or update standard operating procedures? The Occupational Safety & Health Administration and other federal agencies have set May 2-6 as a National Safety Stand-Down. It’s geared toward preventing falls in construction, but individual labs or departments could certainly use it for inspiration. The idea is to take a break from normal operations to focus on safety. Options to consider, in addition to what’s above: Teach risk assessment (learn the “bow tie” tool at the ACS meeting in San Diego) Hold some sort of safety training, maybe including using a fog machine to demonstrate fume hood flow, adding acid to eggs to show the necessity of eye protection, rinsing whipped cream off goggles in an eye wash station, and having someone use a safety shower (ideas from University of California, Irvine, chemistry department) Have your lab group group go through a “what if” analysis of a piece of equipment or experiment to discuss what could go wrong and how to avoid it (idea from Texas Tech University’s Dominick Casadonte) Run an emergency drill to have lab members walk through how to respond to a worst-case spill, fire, or some other incident Go around your department and take photos of good safety practices, then show them before a seminar Hold a safety video contest (idea from University of Minnesota chemical engineering and material science department) Have lab groups create safety demonstrations related to their research (idea from Stony Brook University chemistry department) Develop a contest in which lab groups compete against each other to develop best practices and pass inspections (idea from University of Texas, Austin, chemistry...

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Applying the “new view” safety philosophy to laboratories
Feb17

Applying the “new view” safety philosophy to laboratories

Coming up on March 2 is a free webinar on “The New View: Tools for Engineering a Stronger Lab Safety Culture,” sponsored by BioRaft. What is the new view? I’m still trying to figure that out. Here’s one summary from J. Safe. Res. 2002, DOI: 10.1016/S0022-4375(02)00032-4: One view, recently dubbed ‘‘the old view’’ (AMA, 1998; Reason, 2000), sees human error as a cause of failure. In the old view of human error: Human error is the cause of most accidents. The engineered systems in which people work are made to be basically safe; their success is intrinsic. The chief threat to safety comes from the inherent unreliability of people. Progress in safety can be made by protecting these systems from unreliable humans through selection, proceduralization, automation, training, and discipline. The other view, also called ‘‘the new view,’’ sees human error not as a cause, but as a symptom of failure (AMA, 1998; Hoffman & Woods, 2000; Rasmussen & Batstone, 1989; Reason, 2000; Woods, Johannesen, Cook, & Sarter, 1994). In the new view of human error: Human error is a symptom of trouble deeper inside the system. Safety is not inherent in systems. The systems themselves are contradictions between multiple goals that people must pursue simultaneously. People have to create safety. Human error is systematically connected to features of people tools, tasks, and operating environment. Progress on safety comes from understanding and influencing these connections. Here’s a more recent blog post exploring what “new view” means. The “new view” is also related to a perspective called Safety II, which is described in this whitepaper by the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation. As for the webinar itself, BioRaft says it will cover: Safety professionals in diverse industries around the world use the New View to improve communication and safety in their organizations, so why not bring this methodology to lab safety? In this free webinar, speakers Dave Christenson and Ron Gantt will teach you the philosophy behind the New View, what it is capable of accomplishing, and how you can go out and begin to make it work for you. After completing this webinar, you will: – Understand what the New View is and how it improves communication and safety. – Learn why industries like nuclear power rely on the New View. – Be able to use the New View to assess your safety culture. – Have the tools to build trust in your organization. – Receive practical suggestions on how to start using this methodology in your...

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Learn risk analysis at #ACSSanDiego
Feb10

Learn risk analysis at #ACSSanDiego

In addition to the safety training opportunities at ACS meetings that I posted last week, the Division of Chemical Health & Safety is also sponsoring a workshop to learn a risk assessment tool called the “bowtie” method. The knot at the center of the “bowtie” is the incident, the left side has the threats or events that could trigger the incident along with possible controls, and the right side has the consequences if the incident happens and possible controls for those. Presenting the workshop will be Mary Beth Mulcahy of the Chemical Safety Board and Chris Boylan of safety consulting and certification company Det Norske Veritas. They plan to give a short presentation about the method, then divide the audience to work on real-world examples from teaching and research laboratories. The workshop will run on Tuesday afternoon from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm at the Hilton Gaslamp in the Marina Room. Go here for more information, go here to add it to your meeting calendar, and email marybeth.mulcahy@csb.gov if you’re planning to...

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Journal of Chemical Health & Safety, November-December issue
Dec28

Journal of Chemical Health & Safety, November-December issue

Here’s what’s in the November-December issue of the Journal of Chemical Health & Safety: Editorial: Looking to the horizon, by Harry J. Elston Is benzene still a good indicator of risk during crude oil spill clean-ups? by Frank M. Parker (Caliche Ltd) Improving lab coat selection, use, and care: Lessons learned from one university’s comprehensive lab coat initiative, by Mary Lindstrom et al (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Reliability study of an emerging fire suppression system, by David A. Miller et al (Montana State University) Environmental and public health risks associated with chemical waste from research and educational laboratories in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, by Charles Kihampa (Ardhi University) and Harieth Hellar-Kihampa (University of Tanzania) Comparative characterization methods for metal oxide nanoparticles in aqueous suspensions, by Gary A. Roth, Nicole M. Neu-Baker, and Sara A. Brenner (SUNY Polytechnic Institute) Aluminum sulfate, by William E. Luttrell (Oklahoma Christian University) Brief discussion of deflagration and detonation, by David Rainer (North Carolina State University) Follow through, by John DeLaHunt Green chemistry and process safety, by Dennis C. Hendershot (AIChE Center for Chemical Process Safety) Competence and compassion, by Peter C. Ashbrook (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) Not Jane Fonda’s China Syndrome, by Neal Langerman (Advanced Chemical Safety) Read the label, by Robert Alaimo Corrigendum to “Protective equipment for small-scale laboratory explosive hazards. Part 2. Shielding materials, eye and face protection” [J. Chem. Health Saf. 2015, DOI:...

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Goggle reviews, anyone?
Dec10

Goggle reviews, anyone?

Ruth Bowers of the blog “Understanding Chemistry Through Cars” and Alfred University has a few goggle reviews on the blog and is looking for more: So, here’s the deal. I’m out of goggles to review! We’d love to hear from you about your favorite (or despised) goggles that meet the ANSI Z89+ Z87.1 standard. Let us know what works and what doesn’t. Share a photo of your goggles in action. If you’d like to submit a full review, contact us here (we’ll contact you by email to get a photo and more info). If you’d just like to give a short comment, tweet us a photo of your goggles. She has these questions in particular: Does the user have a large or small face? Do they wear glasses? What is typical goggle use? How long are they worn? What is the climate control in the lab space? Are the goggles comfortable? Do they fit well? Do they fog? Do typical anti-fog measures...

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