Date: Fri, 7 Aug 2009 20:38:25 -0400
Reply-To: "Dr. Jay A. Young" <chemsafety**At_Symbol_Here**VERIZON.NET>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Dr. Jay A. Young" <chemsafety**At_Symbol_Here**VERIZON.NET>
Subject: Re: 3 Re: [DCHAS-L] OSHA Lab Standard Effectiveness
Comments: To: Ralph Stuart


Back in the 1930's when I was a young chemist, there was little if any 
emphasis on safety in the academic world.  I had one chemistry teacher, in 
High School, who indeed was safety-minded--but he was a rare breed.

So, in my experience, safety in the chemical academic world has been a 
problem for something around 80 years, at least.  If anything, in my 
experience the problem is not nearly as bad now as it was then.

Jay Young

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ralph Stuart" 
Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 11:15 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 3 Re: [DCHAS-L] OSHA Lab Standard Effectiveness

>> >I suspect that fundamental change in safety culture is sorely
>> needed in the majority of academic labs and their inhabitants - and  this 
>> is just not supported by many academic administrations who see  safety as 
>> just an add-on rather than an integrated part of learning  and research 
>> involving human beings.
>> >I would be interested to hear what others think about this aspect
>> of safety culture and accountability.
> I agree that there is a cultural disconnect between the academic 
> laboratory culture and external expectations of safety culture and 
> accountability. I think that one reason for this is the major increase  in 
> the amount and diversity of research labs over the last 20 years  without 
> a concomitant increase in administrative support (although  there has been 
> a significant increase in, for example, EHS support for  labs, I don't 
> believe that it has kept up with extent of lab work and  the increase in 
> regulation of hazardous materials and other oversight  issues that affect 
> labs).
> As the UCLA report pointed out, information about the kind of work  that's 
> going on in these labs is not well organized centrally, so the  support 
> needs of the laboratory workers, whether in terms of facility 
> capabilities, or regulatory compliance assistance, or management of 
> common equipment, is often lacking. And when these needs are not met,  I 
> suspect that it's easier to accept the accountability gaps that  others 
> have pointed to.
> Add to this the scientific tradition of independent research within 
> academia and the history of scientific heros who have suffered health- 
> wise for their work and there are many cultural messages that confuse  the 
> safety attitude of laboratory workers. In this respect, I'm  heartened to 
> hear that the UK seems to have made progress through its  mandated risk 
> assessment process at the lab level.
> - Ralph
> Ralph Stuart, CIH
> Environmental Safety Manager
> University of Vermont
> Environmental Safety Facility
> 667 Spear St. Burlington, VT  05405
> rstuart**At_Symbol_Here**
> fax: (802)656-5407

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