Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 08:56:55 -0500
Reply-To: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
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From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: 11 RE: [DCHAS-L] Safety value of housekeeping

There are several interesting sources of information on this question  

below. Thanks for all for their responses.

- Ralph

From: 	mellison**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	RE: [DCHAS-L] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 3:52:01 PM EST (CA)


 =46rom a construction standpoint, I can say with a high confidence  
interval that on 99.9% of our projects where there is good to great  
housekeeping, we have measurably lower incident rates.  As far as  
empirical data go, however, I can't help you.  But nonetheless, I  
preach and practice housekeeping religiously.

Mark Ellison
"Plan Safety - Work Safely"
P Please consider the environment before printing this email

From: 	info**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	Re: [DCHAS-L] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 4:00:37 PM EST (CA)

No numbers, but the pictures speak for themselves about keeping hoods  



From: 	KLOTZ**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	RE: [DCHAS-L] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 4:21:46 PM EST (CA)

Anecdotal approach:

Several year back there was a fire in one of our research lab.  What  
seems to have happened is that a researcher was working until late  
into the night inadvertently left a hot plate on all night.  In the  
morning, routine maintenance was to be done on the building filters.   

The building air was turned off.  The change in pressure caused a  
squeeze type bottle of a flammable solvent in the same hood as the  
hotplate to drip.  The vapors ignited.  A lab coat was hung on the  
hood gas valve handle caught fire.  Now the fire was outside the  
hood.  The fire suppression system went off and put out the fire  
quickly.  Not one of the 20 or so four liter glass bottles of  
flammable solvents cracked.  The bottles were safely put away in the  
two flammables cabinets in the lab (one under the hood that contained  

the fire.)  No one was hurt.  Research was put on hold for clean-up  
and hood repair for several weeks.  There was a lot of water damage on  

the entire wing of the building.  Poor housekeeping resulted in the  
hotplate left on, the squeeze bottle left in the hood rather than put  

in the flammables cabinet and the lab coat hanging from a hood gas  
valve rather than on a coat hook.  Good housekeeping, putting away the  

80 or so liters of flammables, save the building.


Ann Klotz
School of Science
Siena College
515 Loudon Road
Loudonville, NY 12211-1462

From: 	dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	RE: [DCHAS-L] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 4:45:47 PM EST (CA)


The following JCHS article states that "...chemical accidents stemming  

from improper storage make up almost 25% of all chemical accidents."

Simmons F, Quigley D, Whyte H, Robertson J, Freshwater D, Boada-Clista  

L, Laul JC. Chemical Storage: Myths vs. reality. J Chem Health Safety,  

15 (#2), 23-30 (2008).

The JCHS article presents two citations for this figure:

1.  U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. Hazard  
Investigation: Improving Reactive Hazard Management. Report No.  
2001-01-H, NTIS No. PB2002-108795, 2002.

2.  Department of Energy Chemical Safety Topical Committee.  
Recommendations for Addressing Recurring Chemical Incidents at the  
U.S. Department of Energy, 2005.


David C. Finster
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
Wittenberg University

From: 	gnpnotti**At_Symbol_Here**COX.NET
Subject: 	Re: [DCHAS-L] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 5:01:09 PM EST (CA)

You probably already know it but I doubt that you would get any real  
data so I think that the motherhood, etc applies in this case.  I  
would just say that you are adults, use your commonsense, and Mom is  
not around to pick up after you.  Tell them that they don't want you  
or the other safety guys to get involved, they'll be sorry!



From: 	dgamble1**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	RE: [DCHAS-L] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 5:36:05 PM EST (CA)

I do have one contact for information like this and I know that he  
often responds to the list serv, but the laboratory Safety Institute  
ran by James Kaufman would be an excellent place to start. Their  
website is When I saw one of their presentations it  

had a great chart packed full of numbers which is what your looking for.


Danyelle Gamble-Noland
Chemistry Physics and Astronomy Laboratory Manager
Central New Mexico Community College
525 Buena Vista Dr. SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106


From: 	sstepenuck**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	Re: [DCHAS-L] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 24, 2009 12:47:57 AM EST (CA)

I'm sure you're right, though I don't have "numbers" either.  I do  
seem to recall that one of OSHA's more frequent citations is for just  

that--"housekeeping," so they must have some stats to support those  

I'd call the local OSHA office, and if they don't/can't help, try OSHA  

Boston and USDOL/BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics].  They have been  
very helpful to me in situations like this.

Good luck,

P.S. Maybe somebody in the UVM Psychology department could help with  
some supporting knowledge, that is if a place is messy, people tend to  

be less careful, but if it is obviously well and carefully kept, they  

tend more to act in that mode...

Another thought: Somewhere [try Accident Facts, from National Safety  
Council] I read that slips, trips and falls are a major cause of lab  
accidents, and certainly those interface with housekeeping.

And yet another--a case history: We had a lab renovation, and a worker  

left a piece of cove molding not properly attached to the base of a  
lab bench.  A day or so later, an experienced lab tech tripped on  
that, and hit her head on the lab bench across the aisle, sustaining a  

treatable injury. [I can't remember now how serious, but it was bad,  
possibly a concussion.]

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


From: 	tsiakals**At_Symbol_Here**ILLINOIS.EDU
Subject: 	Re: [SAFETY] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 4:05:15 PM EST (CA)

Interesting question, Ralph!

I don't know of any study on this, but I suppose it would involve  
measuring housekeeping and measuring safety - the two variables whose  

relationship you want to describe.  Perhaps such studies are reported  

out there for industry?

Instead of going the anecdotal route, I usually go the "fuzzy  
statistics" route - meaning that I say there is a rough correlation  
(not a necessary correlation) between housekeeping and safety.  "In  
general terms, the better kept lab is the safer lab, though you will  
certainly find labs with seemingly good safety records despite their  
messiness, and you will find well-kept labs with poor safety records.   

How can that be?  Housekeeping is merely one - not the only -  
contributing factor to safety performance."

Usually this is in a discussion about "controls sufficient for the  
hazards present."  Housekeeping is one of those things that indicates  

degree of control.  So if I observe poor housekeeping, I am observing  

an indicator of poor control - and I wonder what other controls are  

I've also gotten traction with the logical route:
- Which is easier to deal with, the spill on the messy counter or the  

spill on a clean counter?
- Which is more likely to cause trouble, the well-stowed boxes or the  

boxes piled haphazardly?
- Which is more controlled, the containers left at the point of use or  

the containers stored after use?

Hope that helps,



From: 	chipdawson**At_Symbol_Here**AOL.COM
Subject: 	Re: [SAFETY] Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 4:20:37 PM EST (CA)
Glad you asked, Ralph. I wrote an article last year for ISHN titled  
Six Reason to Clean Out the Clutter that was published in the magazine  

on April 1, 2008 (no fooling). You'll find it, with lots of  
statistics, at
. Chip

Lawrence H. "ChiP" Dawson
Dawson Associates
Rochester Business Alliance Coordinating Consultant for Health and  
6 Saddle Ridge Trail
Fairport, NY 14450
(585) 425-1639

From: 	regina.j.cody**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	Lab Housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 7:02:38 PM EST (CA)
Dear Ralph,

I have been reading many postings from you on DCHAS for several years,  

so feel I owe you a little something in return.  I do not have  
statistics on housekeeping, but I have been a lab scientist for many  
years.  While I am not the best housekeeper, I do agree that a  
reasonably orderly lab helps not only to prevent accidents but also  
helps get research done.

But there are other equally important things that can help prevent  
accidents both from my experience and from reviewing accident reports,  

and they need to be stressed to new researchers.  Far too many  
accidents / incidents are caused either by being in a hurry and maybe  

taking short cuts or by lapses of concentration on the work at hand.   

Being hurried can also mean not taking the time to get enough  
information about the chemical or process ahead of time.   A few  
seconds or minute of a lapse of concentration can result in an =93oops=94;
a valve being opened or not opened, a chemical spilled, a wrong switch  

being thrown.

Good luck.
Regina Cody


From: 	iht63**At_Symbol_Here**VALLEY.NET
Subject: 	Safety value of housekeeping
Date: 	February 23, 2009 5:30:01 PM EST (CA)

Hello Ralph:

I am not sure what type of numbers/statistics you are looking for. Nor  

do I have any numbers. Maybe I can offer some thoughts as to how one  
might approach developing relevant information.

1. Accident statistics: There maybe some comparative studies around.  
The answer to look for might be the average number of lab accidents  
experienced over a course of ten years. To be derived thereof: what is  

an acceptable number of accidents in a given time?

2. Accidents avoided: This may be the better way to bring home the  
benefit of good house keeping. Develop costs for typical lab  
accidents, including spillage, fire, explosion, personal injury  
(through exposure, cutting on glass, getting stuck with injection  
needles, burns, chemical burns.

3. Not everything can be measured in remedial $ spent. Students might  

be more impressed with anecdotal reports or hypothetic scenarios  
describing types of injuries, personal suffering to be expected, and  
giving estimates of productive hours lost for hospital stays or home  

I hope this helps conceptually - I'm sure you have thought of similar  


Sincerely, Heinz

Heinz H. Trebitz, Ph.D.
480 Colby Road N
Thetford Center, VT 05075


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