How McKinsey makes training mandatory
Jan13

How McKinsey makes training mandatory

From a New York Times profile of McKinsey & Co. CEO Dominic Barton and his efforts to change the company’s rules and culture regarding personal investment after insider trading scandals: At McKinsey’s London office last fall, a recently hired associate sat at a computer for an orientation session. The associate worked at McKinsey as a business analyst several years earlier and then left the firm for a nongovernmental organization. During her first stint, she simply signed a form confirming that she understood McKinsey’s investing rules. This time, though, she had to walk through a 45-minute interactive program. When McKinsey first introduced this tutorial, six employees refused to complete it, saying it was a sign that the firm was turning into a “nanny state.” They left the firm. To push recalcitrant employees to complete the test, McKinsey cuts off their email access until they comply. The story says that all McKinsey consultants–not just new ones–have to complete tutorials such as the one described and senior partners in particular weren’t to too happy about it. Barton...

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UC expands its lab safety program
Aug29

UC expands its lab safety program

In this week’s issue of C&EN, I have a story on how the University of California is implementing and expanding upon the lab safety settlement agreement that UC made with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office last summer. In short, UC is taking the legal mandates for chemistry and biochemistry departments and expanding them to all research and teaching laboratories as well as to technical areas such as store and stock rooms. Go read the story for details. Included with the story is a list of links to things such as UC’s new online “Laboratory Safety Fundamentals” training program, UCLA’s personal protective equipment (PPE) inspection checklist, and the system’s new policies on training, PPE, and minors in labs. As part of reporting on the story, I went through the safety fundamentals training and scored 19/20 on the test at the end. If readers are inclined to do the same, be warned that it will take about three hours, at least if you click through the various bits to get additional information. UC also purchased personal protective equipment for researchers, including 115,000 lab coats. Part of that purchase involved special-ordering flame-resistant, NFPA 2112-rated lab coats from Workrite in small sizes tailored for women. I don’t see them available now on the company’s website, but clearly it at least has patterns. I don’t know whether Workrite is willing to make more, but it’s probably worth a call if you’re looking for...

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Lab safety videos on lab coats, eye protection, and eye washing
Aug14

Lab safety videos on lab coats, eye protection, and eye washing

Yes, I know, my last post was just videos, too. But people are doing some good ones! Behold a typically great video from the University of California, San Diego, on personal protective equipment: Eye and face protection and lab coats. From UC Berkeley, what happens when you neglect eye protection (at the end, though, even if his eyes are fine, I think that the acid on his head requires a...

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Lessons learned videos: Formic acid splash and trichloroethylene spill
Aug08

Lessons learned videos: Formic acid splash and trichloroethylene spill

Kudos to Cornell University for turning some incidents into lessons learned videos: Formic acid splash   Trichloroethylene spill in a...

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New lab safety video on personal protective equipment
Jun24

New lab safety video on personal protective equipment

Courtesy of University of California, San Diego, chemistry lecturer Haim Weizman, here is a new video on personal protective equipment–mostly lab coats, with a nod to eye protection. So far, two complaints have cropped up on the Division of Chemical Health & Safety e-mail list about the video. One is that it shows safety glasses rather than splash goggles. I agree that goggles would be a better choice, especially when part of the video shows a splash. Safety glasses are really just for impact protection. The other complaint concerned “the low-cut tank top work by the lab worker.” I agree with this to some degree, because the lab coat doesn’t cover the top of the worker’s chest, either. On the other hand, how much protection would a crew-neck t-shirt really provide? And how much clothing policing is reasonable? UCSD started requiring lab coats in its undergraduate labs a few years ago precisely because it was difficult to enforce a dress code. “Our explanation of what was appropriate attire was a huge paragraph and had to be constantly changed” as fashions evolved, teaching labs safety coordinator Sheila Kennedy told me in 2010. If chest protection is such a concern that you might want people to take a ruler to their collarbones, then perhaps the answer lies in lab coat design rather than dress...

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Proposed ACS undergrad guidelines increase safety requirements
Jun18

Proposed ACS undergrad guidelines increase safety requirements

This week’s issue of C&EN includes a story by Celia Arnaud about proposed changes to the ACS Guidelines for Bachelor’s Degree Programs, which are developed by the Committee on Professional Training. The issue also has a comment by committee leaders Anne B. McCoy of Ohio State University and Ron W. Darbeau of Louisiana’s McNeese State University. Included in the changes are revisions to the safety requirements. Former committee leaders told me a few years ago that the last guidelines revision, completed in 2008, had more explicitly addressed safety than earlier versions, so the newly-proposed revisions take the criteria a step further. Here’s what the requirements say now in the safety section: 7.3 Laboratory Safety Skills. Approved programs should promote a safety-conscious culture in which students understand the concepts of safe laboratory practices and how to apply them. Programs should train students in the aspects of modern chemical safety appropriate to their educational level and scientific needs. A high degree of safety awareness should begin during the first laboratory course, and both classroom and laboratory discussions must stress safe practices. Students should understand responsible disposal techniques, understand and comply with safety regulations, understand and use material safety data sheets (MSDS), recognize and minimize potential chemical and physical hazards in the laboratory, and know how to handle laboratory emergencies effectively. And here’s what’s proposed (overall, there’s a shift from “shoulds” to “musts”): Section 7.3 Laboratory Safety Skills (p. 14-15) Programs must train students in the aspects of modern chemical safety appropriate to their educational level and scientific needs. Approved programs must promote a safety-conscious culture in which students understand the concepts of safe laboratory practices and apply them. Programs must train students in the aspects of modern chemical safety appropriate to their educational and scientific needs. The promotion of safety awareness and skills must begin during the first laboratory experience and be incorporated into each lab experience thereafter. Classroom and laboratory discussions must stress safe practices. Students should be actively engaged in the evaluation and assessment of safety risks associated with laboratory experiences. Safety understanding and skills should build throughout the curriculum and be assessed. Students should understand responsible disposal techniques understand and comply with safety regulations understand and use material safety data sheets (MSDS) recognize and minimize potential chemical and physical hazards in the laboratory and know how to effectively handle laboratory emergencies. Students must undergo general safety training as well as lab-specific training before beginning undergraduate research. Approved programs must have an active, departmental safety committee. What say you, readers? Are the proposed changes necessary or sufficient? What would you add or subtract? From McCoy and Darbeau’s piece this...

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