Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 12:28:44 -0800
Reply-To: Matt Heinrich <heinma**At_Symbol_Here**WWC.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Matt Heinrich <heinma**At_Symbol_Here**WWC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Cell Phones in Lab
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you so much for the great responses.  Many helpful questions and
suggestions.  (And if you've got more, feel free to let fly.)
A little more verbose explanation, for those who had questions:
The concern was raised by our Organic Chemistry professor, and his
primary concern was the undergrad students' reflex to answer the phone
immediately (no, OF COURSE they wouldn't have turned off the ringer or
phone) in the middle of a procedure, with their gloves still on, etc. 
He was also concerned about the fact that most of his students no longer
wear watches, and were pulling out their phones to time procedures, and
simply laying them on the bench top.  So, again, he is concerned about
the telephones being a vector for carrying chemical contaminants out of
the lab (and yet he's not in favor of providing lab coats. . .).  I do
agree with the responses that suggest that this is an issue where
education and reinforcement on basic lab hygiene and safety consistently
applied should help take care of the issue.
The issue of cell phones for emergency communication doesn't seem
terribly compelling, because we have emergency phones in the hallways
throughout our Life Sciences building, and in particular right outside
the door to the O. Chem. lab.
My impression is that our O. Chem. professor wants to ban cell phones
from his lab, but he wants a little backup.  He did express concern
about being the only one to institute a ban, and having an uphill battle
against constant arguments.  I'm in favor of the ban, and would like to
see it expanded to anything that could distract attention away from
hazardous jobs or procedures.  I think that having a well-thought out
policy may be helpful, but I feel that the core issue really needs to be
addressed by the professors, teaching assistants and researchers.
Once again, many thanks for the thoughtful responses.
Matt Heinrich
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Radiation Safety Officer
Walla Walla College
Ph. 509-527-2148
Fax  509-527-2249

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