Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2005 17:11:20 -0500
Reply-To: Steve Stepenuck <steps**At_Symbol_Here**WORLDPATH.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Steve Stepenuck <steps**At_Symbol_Here**WORLDPATH.NET>
Subject: Re: Industry Input on Lab Safety Course
In-Reply-To: <4249B31F.4000903**At_Symbol_Here**>

    We'll let the industry reps speak for themselves, but from an academic
viewpoint I can say that
     I taught a "Chem-prefix" course called "Occupational Safety and
Health" from 1976 to 2003, including more than one corporate safety director
among its students.
     I have had a "colleague" who got his hands on my lecture notes throw
them in the dumpster, later saying that was because this was "not real
     An attempt was made to remove the course as a requirement for the
BS/BA in chemistry, because there was "no room" in the already-crowded
curriculum.  [In other words, you are wise to prepare for counter-arguments
or outright opposition that it's "unnecessary" ...]
     I have also had a number of alums come back to tell me that they were
hired because they had some knowledge of applicable OSHA standards, they
were very familiar with finding MSDS or toxicology information, or showed
real evidence of knowing something about occupational hazards, industrial
realities, etc.
     On more than one occasion, grads who were hired for chemistry
positions were very soon handed responsibility for everything from keeping
the chemical inventory and/or MSDS records, to the entire [and sometimes
first] EH&S operation for the facility.  In smaller companies, sometimes
they were the only people in the lab who seemed to have any specific
operational knowledge of how to function in today's regulatory environment.
Other times they were used as assistants to an EH&S person.  In any event,
the course did seem to help [many of] them quickly become useful employees,
performing a necessary function.
     It would probably be fair to say that the combination of an interest
in safety and health, plus some formal instruction, was substantively
helpful to many of them in their careers--and not just in working safely.
     Our school subsequently developed a whole safety major program [in a
separate department].  Although too often lacking in chemical knowledge,
those grads have had more job offers than any other major at the college.
The combination of chemical competence plus some formal instruction in
safety and health is powerful.
     By all means, go for it!  The need certainly remains, and such
instruction will help your students.

Good luck!
Steve Stepenuck

Stephen J. Stepenuck, Ph.D.
Professor of chemistry emeritus
Keene State College
Keene NH 03435-2001

Sheila Kennedy wrote:

> Those of us in similar situations, whether helping the instructors cover
> safety topics within the curriculum or setting up separate courses,
> would appreciate having this information as well.
> Sheila
> YARROW, GARY wrote:
>> Currently we do not have a formal course on lab/chem safety, but I am
>> trying to arrange such a thing.  What I am requesting, is that those of
>> you in industrial settings, could you let me know either my private
>> email or to the list, how the industry looks/perceives a prospective
>> employee that has taken such a class.  Does it make any difference?
>> Will it help to decide between two otherwise equal applicants?  That
>> sorta thing.  I think that it would help when I make a formal request.
>> The class would be a undergrad/grad level, 1 credit, probably two hours
>> a week.
>> Thanks for any help....
>> Gary
>> Dr. Gary L. Yarrow, Director/RSO/CCHO
>> Environmental Health & Safety Office
>> Shepard Hall 059; Box 2202
>> South Dakota State University
>> Brookings, SD 57007-0896
>> 605-688-4264
>> Fax: 605-688-4611

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.