Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 16:01:04 -0500
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: Need Your Opinion on Safety Issues
In-Reply-To: <s36b7d7a.088**At_Symbol_Here**>

>My chemistry Department (Salisbury University) does not presently have a
>policy requiring pants to be worn in the undergraduate teaching labs.  I
>know the ACS recommends undergraduates wearing them, but our faculty are
>somewhat split on enforcing the wearing of pants, especially in the
>general chemistry lab, wear a minimum of hazardous chemicals are used.
>I would appreciate any input on thoughts on a requirement for wearing
>pants (not shorts, skits, etc.).
>Thank you,
>Ed Senkbeil
>Chemistry Department
>Salisbury University

Pants are part of PPE.  [begin rhetorical questions] Would one say 
that safety goggles are not really needed because there is a minimum 
of hazardous chemicals in use?  Or that seat belts aren't required if 
you are driving really slow?  Can you guarantee that there will never 
be a truly hazardous situation involving accidental waste mixing 
etc.? [end rhetorical questions]

 From my reading of OSHA regs and study of CHP's at Universities 
around the country, shorts and skirts should be and are prohibited. 
OSHA's PPE standard 1910.132 says:

     1910.132(d) Hazard assessment and equipment selection.

     Select, and have each affected employee use, the types of
     PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards
     identified in the hazard assessment;

And the Laboratory Standard, 1910.1450 makes this definition:

     "Protective laboratory practices and equipment" means those
     laboratory procedures, practices and equipment accepted by
     laboratory health and safety experts as effective, or that
     the employer can show to be effective, in minimizing the
     potential for employee exposure to hazardous chemicals."

Every lab safety expert will tell you that covering exposed legs will 
minimize potential exposure.  I'm no attorney, but I suspect that 
failing to Officially prohibit shorts could worsen your liability 
potential if a student spills nitric acid etc. on his/her legs.  And 
your insurance carrier will have some choice thoughts, too, no doubt.

Hazards from chemicals are not the only issue.  There are physical 
hazard issues of broken glass, thermal burns etc. etc.    Back when I 
was a professor, another professor's grad student was helping clean 
up a teaching lab.  He was pushing a cart stacked with old vacuum 
lines etc and he gashed his leg fairly well.  I have no doubt that 
his injuries would have been less severe if he had been wearing jeans 
rather than shorts.  Probably a butterfly closure rather than 

But the *really* important intangible factor here is that permitting 
shorts (and sandals etc.) where they are not appropriate - even if 
borderline, inculcates students with the idea that safety is 
something that you only worry about when you're "doing something 
dangerous".    We ALL know where that leads....  Safety works only if 
it is a core value and part of EVERY experiment or procedure.

I refer you here specifically for an example of what a proper culture 
of safety can accomplish.  Specifically, what if the student in the 
third paragraph had NOT been wearing his goggles because he wasn't 
doing anything dangerous:


Dr. Rob Toreki
Safety Emporium - Lab & Safety Supplies featuring brand names
you know and trust.  Visit us at
esales**At_Symbol_Here**  or toll-free: (866) 326-5412
Fax: (859) 523-0606, 4905 Waynes Blvd, Lexington, KY 40513-1469

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