Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 11:38:58 -0400
Reply-To: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Subject: Re: Fw: [DCHAS-L] Safety Rules
In-Reply-To: <003e01c494e6$091d98a0$e948660a**At_Symbol_Here**>

>I am a new safety in my college of science and am running into
>problems with the dean.  He does not want to follow standard
>laboratory practices regarding clothing (short tops, long pants,
>shoes) because it might scare someone.  His logic behind the pants
>is they could trap corrosives and cause more damage than if the
>student was wearing shorts.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how
>to deal with this issue or knows about an injury resulting from
>wearing pants as opposed to shorts?
>I am trying to convince him, using the ACS guide to laboratory
>safety but to no avail.  If anyone could offer suggestions it would
>be appreciated.
>Chris Wysong

Tell your dean that (with all due respect) you corresponded with a
number of safety professionals at other institutions and their
consensus is that he is wrong and that it is your understanding that
his policy willfully disregards accepted safety practices and invites
potential lawsuits.  Do this in writing and be sure that your
University legal department is prominently cc'ed on the letter.  And
retain copies of all correspondence in the  matter.   If you aren't
willing to take this on for fear of reprisal (check into your state
whistleblower laws first) have a professor take the lead on it..  And
there is always the president, board of trustees, local media etc. if
you really want to make it a fight.

Lab coats and/or aprons may be an acceptable compromise on some
issues, but open footware etc. is just plain ridiculous.

A few specific comments on his ill-advised logic:

1. I have personally seen laboratory accidents where shorts versus
long pants have made a difference in outcome.  But rather than dwell
on those, here's a better proposal:

We'll run some tests.  In test 1, he'll put a drop of 12 M sulfuric
on his bare leg, I'll put one on my jeans-clad leg, and we'll see who
can last the longest.  In test 2, we'll poke ourselves in the leg
with a glass pipette tip and see if skin affords better penetration
protection than jeans.   In test 3, we'll drop a flask of
concentrated HCl onto the ground next to our feet - him in sandals
and me in sneakers - and we'll see if there are differing outcomes.

2. Your dean is inviting a lawsuit the size of Montana - imagine the
field day that a victim's attorneys will have when they find out that
he ordered you to deliberately violate best safety practices and, oh
yes, the recommendations of OSHA.  With both OSHA and the ACS having
made recommendations *against* what your dean is opposing, it would
be a slam dunk liability case.  And nothing incites juries more than
willful negligence.

3. Alas, as a state school, Marshall does not fall under OSHA's
jurisdiction.   If it was a private employer, then  the OSHA
laboratory Standard 29 CFR 1910.1450, Hazard Communication Standard
1910.1200, and a few other PPE standards would require the university
to conduct a hazard assessment and appropriate PPE - which in this
case would involve proper attire and closed footware.   And while
failure to do so would invite an OSHA citation, *willful* violations
such as the one he proposes could result in a tripling of any
monetary fine.

Dr. Robert Toreki
    Interactive Learning Paradigms, Incorporated (ILPI)
100% custom content development for e-learning programs.
Ph: (859) 396-5218, Fax: (859) 523-0606, sales**At_Symbol_Here**
Lab & safety supplies?  Visit

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.