Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 12:29:58 -0500
Reply-To: "Harry J. Elston" <helston**At_Symbol_Here**FGI.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Harry J. Elston" <helston**At_Symbol_Here**FGI.NET>
Subject: Chemical lists for schools - Whoa! Wait a Minute! Elston Chimes In
Comments: To: SAFETY
>But requiring gloves and N-95's
>isn't out of the question necessarily and could be an important  
>lesson on
>real world management of risk.

With respect to respirators, this is a darn stupid idea.  There should NEVER be a cause to use a respirator in exposure control in an academic, secondary school environment.  Period.

Using a respirator is more than slapping on a facepiece, sucking in to see if you have a seal and calling it good.  Yes, an "N-95" is a RESPIRATOR and if you're requiring their use, you're buying into a full-meal-deal program that includes, but is not limited to....

1.  A complete risk assessment to ensure there are no other viable alternatives such as engineering controls and adminsitrative controls (including chemical substitution) that will provide the necessary exposure control.

2.  A complete respiratory protection program, written, reviewed annually, blah, blah, blah.

3.  Medical evaluation as required by the Respiratory Protection Standard.

4.  Fit testing to the level required by the Respiratory Protection Standard and the local respiratory protection program.

5.  Training as required

6.  Maintennace as required

And the list goes on.

Now, how many secondary school teachers are qualified to do that?  My bet that it exponentially approaches ZERO.

As a parent, chemist and safety professional, I would have a real field day if ANY teacher of my kid required the use of a respirator in their class; the first question being, "Just what the hell are you using that requires the use?" and then moving on from there, including the entire school administration hearing about it.

While it may be true that "any chemical can be handled safely" the bottom line is that some should be restricted from use until these skulls-full-o-mush get some EXPERIENCE in handling the not-so-bad chemicals.  Let them handle the cyanides in 300/400/500 level college classes, not in high school.  You can teach a whole lot of chemistry with some low-risk/low-hazard chemicals and their dilutions.

Harry "taking a cleansing breath" Elston

Harry J. Elston, Ph.D., CIH
Midwest Chemical Safety

Editor, Chemical Health & Safety

"I'm your wife.  I'm the greatest good 
you're ever gonna get"
           -Mrs. "Frozone", The Incredibles

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