Sunday #chemsafety at #ACSNOLA
Mar18

Sunday #chemsafety at #ACSNOLA

Today at the ACS National Meeting in New Orleans: Integrating Research & Safety 1:30 PM Grand Salon D Sec 21, Hilton New Orleans Riverside The psychology of developing a positive chemical safety culture in academic research labs Survey of chemist exposure to VOCs from solvent cabinets Study of safer storage and handling of graphene oxide Effectiveness of laser safety eyewear under real-world conditions Safety at the bench: Promoting positive safety culture in academic laboratories Ask Dr. Safety: Integrating research and safety Workshop: Developing Graduate Student Leadership Skills in Lab Safety 3:00 PM Magnolia Room, Hilton Garden Inn Convention...

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Coming soon to a smartphone near you: Goggles, lab coat, and fire extinguisher
Feb13

Coming soon to a smartphone near you: Goggles, lab coat, and fire extinguisher

Some time ago, my brilliant C&EN colleague Jessica Morrison hatched a plan to develop emoji for chemists. With the help of Yang Ku and Sam Lemonick, chemoji were born. And later this year, they’ll become part of the standard set–along with a few other science items, redheaded and curly-haired people, superheroes and heroines, and yarn. Want our original set of images? You can download them here. At least one school is using them on fume hoods–the faces are cut in half and pasted on the frame and sash; aligning the smile puts the sash at the correct height. (Where has the Safety Zone been, you ask? First there was Grappling with graduate student mental health and suicide, then Confronting sexual harassment in chemistry. Those stories were followed by a promotion to C&EN’s executive editor for policy. New editor responsibilities included managing Top headlines of 2017 and U.S. policy outlook for 2018, plus assorted other things to learn. I still have the safety beat, though, and one of my goals for this quarter is to get the Safety Zone going...

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Help build the Chemical Safety Library!
Oct04

Help build the Chemical Safety Library!

Scour your memory, lab notebooks, or the literature to find reaction safety information to enter into the Chemical Safety Library, a database tool that chemists may use to share information and avoid repeating dangerous events. To expand the library, the nonprofit that developed it is holding a two-week datathon from Oct. 17 to 31. The Pistoia Alliance launched the library earlier this year, and it now has more than 100 entries. “We are collecting community-contributed insights regarding reactions that have gone awry in the lab, with the aim of making this information freely and widely available to improve safety for all,” says Carmen Nitsche, Pistoia’s executive director for business development in North America. If you don’t already have a Chemical Safety Library account, please register in advance–library administrators screen user applications and reaction submissions to ensure the database remains free of spam. You can also register for a kickoff webinar on Oct. 18 to provide training, tips, and tricks. And be sure to alert your colleagues–students, postdocs, faculty, staff, EH&S personnel, collaborators–about the effort. Pistoia will reward top contributors with gift cards. C&EN plans to participate in the datathon by contributing information from our safety letters. Our challenge to you: Don’t let us be the top contributor! I hear all the time that people would like to have a database such as this, so now’s your chance to help create it. What happens during the datathon and a subsequent hackathon will help determine future development of the...

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“Expertise is deeply gratifying, but it is also a potential trap”
Oct03

“Expertise is deeply gratifying, but it is also a potential trap”

From last week’s issue of C&EN, some lessons learned by ACS President Allison A. Campbell following a bicycle crash in Washington, D.C., and how they relate to laboratory safety: Since I regularly ride near my home in Washington state, I know the trails there quite well, including the overall quality, locations of potholes, and other hazards to be avoided. Additionally, we don’t get much rain, so it did not occur to me to pay any particular attention to puddles on the trail. So as I rode through a large puddle that morning, I was surprised when my front wheel dropped into a deep crater, sending me hurtling over my handlebars. My nose and chin slammed against the trail’s packed-gravel surface. I picked myself up slowly, stunned, stinging, and bleeding profusely. I was, all in all, fortunate. Even though I felt fine, I made a visit to the emergency room. I had neither a concussion nor broken bones: only scrapes, bruises, and two front teeth that were slightly pushed in but easily straightened. … We are all experts of one form or another, whether in the laboratory, the office, the kitchen, or any number of other settings. Expertise is deeply gratifying, but it is also a potential trap when it leads to overconfidence and a false sense of familiarity. Since my accident, I have been thinking about the idea of the “beginner’s mind” popularized by the Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki back in the 1970s. Suzuki observed that, as beginners in any practice, we are fully present and humble as we dedicate ourselves to learning something new and are on guard to grasp things we don’t know or might miss. As we accumulate skill and experience, the intensity of our awareness tends to erode. Suzuki urged us all to nurture our beginner’s mind, regardless of how advanced we might become at our pursuits, and to recognize that we are always beginners. Until recently, I had not thought about Suzuki’s advice as practical safety guidance. Read Campbell’s full column at...

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Safety Zone live today at #ACSDC
Aug23

Safety Zone live today at #ACSDC

Today at 12:30 PM Eastern, join me for a Facebook live discussion with ACS President-elect Peter K. Dorhout of Kansas State University about safety issues in chemistry. Head to C&EN’s Facebook page and like us so you don’t miss...

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