Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 16:54:01 -0500
Reply-To: "Mary M. Cavanaugh" <cavanaughmm**At_Symbol_Here**APPSTATE.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Mary M. Cavanaugh" <cavanaughmm**At_Symbol_Here**APPSTATE.EDU>
Organization: ASU Safety & WC Office
Subject: FW: [DCHAS-L] Need Your Opinion on Safety Issues
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Need Your Opinion on Safety Issues

ILPI gave you a pretty definitive response.  I'm just weighing in to say I
concur.  We encountered the same issue in our chem labs and it took a few
yrs to change the culture, but shorts and short skirts (and open-toed shoes)
are no longer acceptable in labs.  Faculty now send students home to change
if they arrive improperly clad (and believe me, they do not forget again,
nor does anyone else in the class).

One thing that sometimes gets thru to faculty is the point that they are
training the chemists of tomorrow; allowing students to dress improperly in
a lab is doing them a disservice as they will enter the work world
ill-prepared for the expectations that will be placed upon them.  I could
just see showing up for work in a Dupont R&D wet lab in shorts... Wouldn't
make a great impression on management, to say the least! 

Mary M. Cavanaugh, CIH
phone  828.262.6838
email  cavanaughmm**At_Symbol_Here**

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2005 4:01 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Need Your Opinion on Safety Issues

>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 stitches.

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


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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