#ACSDenver recordings posted
May14

#ACSDenver recordings posted

The American Chemical Society has posted recordings from presentations given at the National Meeting in Denver in March. Included are talks from the marijuana health and safety symposium organized by the Division of Chemical Health & Safety, as well as some of the Presidential sessions on sustainability and responsible development of...

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ACS Council takes up academic lab safety
Sep06

ACS Council takes up academic lab safety

Following the American Chemical Society's National Meeting in Anaheim in March, a Safety Culture Task Force was established by the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety, Society Committee on Education, Committee for Professional Training, and the Division of Chemical Health & Safety. Although the title of the task force doesn’t say so, its focus is specifically on safety culture in academic laboratories. At a retreat in June, task force members identified some things that members believe are critical for strengthening safety cultures (per the pdf of the Council agenda, page 74): Leadership Teaching basic laboratory and chemical safety (shop safety included) Safety ethic/attitude/awareness Learning lessons from laboratory incidents Collaborative interactions Promoting and communicating safety Encouraging institutional support of safety by budgeting for safety programs and supplies The task force then asked the ACS Council to take up the matter at the Denver meeting, to get comments and suggestions from councilors on ways that ACS could assist colleges and universities in developing better safety cultures and practices. Here is a rough summary of what the councilors said (the Council allotted 30 minutes for this, with councilors restricted to 1 minute each, and several councilors said variations on the same thing): Create videos that schools can use for training (although one person commented that the problem is not the availability of resources or materials) Create a formal course in safety that is required for ACS-approved bachelor’s degree programs and/or a certificate program that students can put on their resumes (AIChE has a certificate program) Include safety in all labs—continually reinforce safety and don’t just have it be separate training—and involve students in risk analysis (Seattle University’s “safety teams” program got a nod) Make sure biological safety is included in training Make sure undergraduate laboratory experiments aren’t so sanitized that students don’t know how to handle real-lab situations Include safety content in exams and lab reports Provide guidance on policies such as working alone in lab (is there a line to be drawn somewhere between synthesis and running mass spectrometry samples?) Require faculty and deans to attend safety training along with students Tie faculty and administrator raises and contract renewal to safety performance Encourage experienced faculty to mentor new faculty, and experienced students to mentor new students (this, of course, assumes that "experienced" = "does things safely") Make safety the first thing discussed at every staff meeting Make sure to reward—not punish—people for reporting problems or concerns Encourage academic institutions to seek guidance from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency Redesign the physical space of laboratory buildings to separate desk work from bench work Educate administrators on the benefit...

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Twitter Takes Hold At #ACSDenver
Sep02

Twitter Takes Hold At #ACSDenver

The Twitterati were out in full force at this year’s ACS fall national meeting it seems. So much so that yesterday, ACS Web specialist Chris McCarthy (@CMcC_ACS) tweeted: I did a little analysis. #ACSDenver was tweeted >3x as much as the hashtags for Anaheim and Boston were and the meeting isn't even over. According to McCarthy, the hashtag #ACSDenver was added to tweets from the meeting 1,770 times, whereas #ACSAnaheim and #ACS_Boston were only tweeted about 530 and 490 times, respectively. When asked what he thinks caused this major uptick, McCarthy says he thinks that a few factors contributed. A lot more tweets about the meeting were posted beforehand, he says. And there was a lot more retweeting. In addition, the ACS Pressroom, exhibitors, and local businesses used the hashtag more this time, he adds. The top tweeps of #ACSDenver were @ACSpressroom, @jokrausdu, @ACSNatlMtg, @rguha, and @pidgirl. Speaking of @pidgirl, or Jennifer Maclachlan, as she’s known outside the Twitterverse, she organized a “Tweetup” for attendees at the Denver meeting. Among the topics discussed, we're told, was nuclear chemistry and chemistry outreach activities. C&EN’s own Assistant Managing Editor Amanda Yarnell joined in the fun and had this to say: “Members of #ACSDenver’s Twitterverse got to know each other in the flesh on Monday night. A dozen or so gathered at a rooftop sports bar overlooking Coors field, home of the Colorado Rockies. Although it might not have felt that way on the long walk from the convention center, it was worth the trip. Organized by @pidgirl, who works for a small Cape Cod, Mass.-based analytical instrumentation firm called PID Analyzers, the event emphasized how diverse the world of chemistry tweeters really is. The day jobs of those at the table included entrepreneur, science librarian, bench chemist, journal editor, graduate student, association executive, and science writer.” Did you tweet from the meeting? And if so, why do YOU think this year’s participation on Twitter...

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Amusing News Aliquots
Sep01

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week's science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf. Firing laser beams at the sky could make it rain. No word on what angry sea bass will do with this technology. [Guardian] “Science Friday” takes on the origin of the word “chemistry.” [NPR] From the ACS meeting: Twelve months of studying panda poop to improve biofuel production? Where do we sign up? [iO9] Coral makes its own sunscreen, researchers say. Apparently, the organism just got tired of waiting for Banana Boat to make a lotion that lasts underwater indefinitely. [ScienceDaily] The wags over at the Annals of Improbable Research seem to be having a ball at the ACS meeting. [AIR] Salt of the earth vs. salt of the sea.  [NY Times] Why you should never bring a UV lamp into a hotel room....

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Talking about safety culture at #ACSDenver
Aug31

Talking about safety culture at #ACSDenver

While we certainly missed our friends who were unable to make it to Denver because of the hurricane on the East Coast, I'd still say it has been an excellent meeting for both the Committee on Chemical Safety (CCS) and the Division of Chemical Health & Safety (CHAS). Safety culture in academic laboratories has become a popular topic. Efforts by CCS to raise the issue's profile within ACS will result in today's Council discussion on the discussion. Both CHAS & CCS meetings included presentations from the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board on their investigation of academic safety incidents and causes. I also saw several National Academies senior staff members in Denver; they continue to work on raising the necessary money to follow through on their initial meeting on the topic.  It looks like this will continue to move forward on multiple levels. Hopefully there will be a consolidated effort to advance this important cause. On another subject, several former ACS Presidents have approached me about CHAS developing an online laboratory safety certificate program for graduate students. The objective is to give graduate students a "leg up" on preparing for life after academia. As many of you know, a major complaint by industry is that students don't have the safety experience they need to succeed when they're hired. By developing a comprehensive course with testing and a certificate, these graduates could add something helpful to their resumes. I'll throw a disclaimer right here that hands-on experience in using safety equipment and PPE is also necessary, but a well-designed program could be a strong basis. I'll be talking soon with both ACS staff and outside providers to determine the best approach. Feel free to chime in if you have ideas! Last but not least, thanks to the C&EN staff, particularly Jyllian and Amanda Yarnell, for including me in their get-together this weekend. I had a great time and would say they are not only professional and hard-working in their efforts to keep C&EN's high profile, they're also fun...

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