Ralph, 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"
To: 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**uvm.edu > fax: (802)656-5407 >
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