#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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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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CHAS News from #ACSDenver…
Aug28

CHAS News from #ACSDenver…

Greetings from sunny and warm Denver! It’s been a strange meeting; some CHAS members were unable to get here because of hurricane Irene. For many of us, our thoughts are with family and friends back East. As Jyllian noted, CHAS has four technical sessions, two workshops, and three Sci-Mix posters at this meeting. Unfortunately, several of our speakers were unable to leave home because of travel issues. I was looking forward to hearing Eugene Ngai, our Howard Fawcett Award winner for “outstanding individual contributions to the field of chemical health and safety,” since I received my initial compressed gas safety training from him nearly 30 years ago! Unfortunately, he was unable to get out of the New York area and will have to give his presentation in San Diego or Philadelphia in 2012. CHAS can now be found on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn! We have established a social media team to help maintain our pages. Please feel free to Join or Friend or Like, as appropriate. This morning, the Chemical Safety Board gave the CHAS Executive Committee a presentation on its activities, using the Texas Tech University investigation as an example of the depth and methodology of their work. Dr. Mary Beth Mulcahy stressed the importance of overall safety culture and guidance within an institution, and hinted this was a significant issue at TTU. CSB expects publication of its full report on TTU by the end of September. More...

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Chemical and laboratory safety at #ACSDenver
Aug26

Chemical and laboratory safety at #ACSDenver

As Russ and I pack up and head for the ACS National Meeting in Denver, here’s a list of the Division of Chemical Health & Safety programming at the meeting. As always, I recommend the handy-dandy “Chas-At-A-Glance” document (pdf)–if you find yourself with some free time, perhaps you can catch a talk or two! Sunday: Division of Chemical Health & Safety Awards, with talks on silane safety, compressed gases, and adaptive tools for undergraduates with special needs (Convention Center 106, 1:30-3:55 pm) Monday: Improving Safety Culture: You, Too, Can Effect Change; includes a panel discussion with representatives from government, academia, and industry (Convention Center 106, 1:30-4:55 pm) CHAS social hour, open to any ACS member (Earls Restaurant, 5:00-7:00 pm) Tuesday: Health Effects of Nanotechnology (Convention Center 106, 9:00-10:35 am) Field Operations: How Not to Hurt Yourself in the Field (Convention Center 106, 10:50-11:55 am) Also on Tuesday: A session on Communicating Chemistry to the Public, sponsored by the Committee on Public Relations and Communications, cosponsored by ACS President Nancy Jackson, and moderated ACS President-Elect Bassam Shakhashiri. According to an e-mail from the public affairs office, “Speakers include journalists from print, web, radio and television; a chemist-cookbook author; science toys expert; and author of the 2012 National Science Board’s Science Indicators public opinion chapter.” This is in the Convention Center, room 108, from 1:00-4:30 pm. Combating public chemophobia is, I think, just as important as respecting chemicals enough to work with them safely. And STUDENTS! If you’re an ACS student member, visit the CHAS booth at the meeting expo and the division will cover the fee to add you as a member of the division. Benefits include access to the Journal of Chemical Health & Safety and the division e-mail list. The booth is #1731 and is shared by CHAS and the Committee on Chemical Safety. Last but not least, CHAS is developing its online social networking. Check out the division on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the ACS...

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