Eye protection in Cuba lab photos
May23

Eye protection in Cuba lab photos

In a recent cover story about chemistry research in Cuba, C&EN included several photos in which people were not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment–eye protection in particular–in labs. The photos garnered several critical comments, such as: Please, please, please wear safety glasses in the lab! This should be a minimum requirement for all photos in C&EN. No glasses – no photo. [T]here is no excuse for conducting laboratory work, or even being in a lab, without proper PPE. … I’m actually surprised to see such photos in C&E News without a suitable editorial comment. C&EN generally does require that people must wear eye protection at a minimum in photos and video. We probably refuse a few photos a month for that reason alone. We made exceptions for Cuba story photos for several reasons. One was a sheer lack of resources at the high school and university levels. It wasn’t that people were choosing not to wear eye protection, they simply didn’t have it. A second reason was that we didn’t want to misrepresent lab conditions. Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology has better funding than the schools, but the lab culture there still didn’t involve wearing eye protection. For the purposes of this story, we thought it was important to show the lab environments as they are rather than how they ideally should be. (Would it have been journalistically ethical to ship eye protection to Cuba in order to get “better” photos?) Consequently, C&EN decided to show the labs as they were, noting the lack of safety gear explicitly in the body of the story and in a photo caption. We didn’t make the decision lightly, and we realize that some may still disagree with C&EN showing anything but best safety practice. But we also know that our readers value fact-based, accurate journalism–which for this story meant using photos that we likely would not have accepted for labs in a more industrially developed...

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ACS journals enact new safety policy
Dec07

ACS journals enact new safety policy

From my story at C&EN: American Chemical Society journals will have a new safety reporting requirement starting in 2017: Authors must “address and emphasize any unexpected, new, and/or significant hazards or risks associated with the reported work,” says an ACS Central Science editorial describing the change (2016, DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.6b00341). ACS Publications editors and staff took a closer look at how the journals addressed safety after a “confluence of events” that included high-profile accidents and a survey of safety policies of chemical journals (J. Chem. Health Saf. 2016, DOI: 10.1016/j.jchas.2015.10.001), says Sarah Tegen, vice president for global editorial and author services at ACS. ACS also publishes C&EN. Previously, individual journals set their own safety policies. Go read the story for...

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“They appear confident that what happened to other people won’t happen to them”
Jul21

“They appear confident that what happened to other people won’t happen to them”

Looking at this story about a particular bluff in Oregon’s Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, is there an analogy to be made about research lab safety? The “Pedestal Rock” is on a notorious sandstone bluff at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, which is fenced off and bordered by signs warning people not to go there. Seven people have died in the area since 2009. Six fatal falls have taken place during the past two years. Rescue efforts by the local fire district and U.S. Coast Guard cost upward of $21,000 per hour, often topping out near $106,000. Yet people continue to flood past the fence and signs. Adults, teenagers, grandparents, photographers and even parents with small children disregard the warnings. “We’re not seeing much confusion about what the current signs and fence mean,” said Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “Even people who are aware of the deaths walk right past the fence and signs into that area. They appear confident that what happened to other people won’t happen to them.” … Starting last month, [Park Ranger Lisa Stevenson] patrols the fence at Cape Kiwanda. Leading with friendliness and facts, she looks to start a dialogue rather than a confrontation, even when people don’t want to hear it. h/t...

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“Applying a lab safety culture to nanotechnology” webinar
May12

“Applying a lab safety culture to nanotechnology” webinar

The U.S. National Nanotechnology Coordination Office is launching what it’s calling the “NanoEHS Webinar Series.” The first one is “Applying a Lab Safety Culture to Nanotechnology: Educating the Next Generation of Nanoscientists”. It will be held on Wednesday, May 18, starting at 11 AM Pacific/2 PM Eastern. Here’s the description: The first webinar will discuss how an effective culture of safety in the research laboratory facilitates safe and responsible nanomaterial research and supports the [National Nanotechnology Initiative] goal of responsible development. Other major goals of this webinar are to build awareness of existing information resources; facilitate safe nanotechnology practices within the overall lab safety culture; engage industry in the discussion by sharing practices and expectations; and ensure that safety training in academia is viewed as an important job skill. Who: Speakers at the event will include: Moderator • Charles L. Geraci, Jr. – Associate Director for Nanotechnology and co-manager of the Nanotechnology Research Center at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Panelists • Keith J. Watson – Vice President of Core Research and Development at Dow Chemical Company • Larry Gibbs – Associate Vice Provost for Environmental Health and Safety at Stanford University • Craig Merlic – Associate Professor of Chemistry and Executive Director for the UCLA Center for Laboratory Safety • Lori Seiler – Associate Director for Global R&D EHS at Dow Chemical Company Register for the webinar...

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University leaders should be responsible for lab safety, report says
Apr14

University leaders should be responsible for lab safety, report says

From Andrea Widener’s story in C&EN: Presidents and chancellors of U.S. universities must take personal responsibility for changing the lab safety culture in academia, a new report says. The document, published by the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), challenges top university officials to create high-level committees responsible for lab safety, to modify tenure and promotion requirements to include safety, and to promote open commutation about accidents and near-misses on campuses. Although the report contains other recommendations, the ones putting emphasis on university officials’ accountability are being viewed as most important by the report’s authors and other safety experts. Read Andrea’s story for more, or check out the report...

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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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