I also think this has been a worthwhile and enlightening discussion. As someone who came from industry and now works in academia, I've seen both ends of the spectrum, and see validity to both sides of the argument. When I was a young chemistry major, the best lab instructor I had, by far, was an eccentric fellow who'd spent his career in industry (reportedly he taught for $1 a year just to have free use of a research lab). He was the ONLY instructor in 4 years who pointed out what was hazardous (and not hazardous) of what we were about to do, and expected us to think through the process before we got started. As a safety professional and someone who no longer works routinely in the lab (and therefore can truly identify with the klutziness of a student :) ), I think it's important for students to wear gloves during those early "non-hazardous" experiments for a very simple reason: practice. Wearing gloves changes your tactile response. It is not as easy to handle slippery glassware, small items, measure precisely, etc, with gloves on. Far better to gain that dexterity and make the inevitable mistakes (dropping a test tube, pouring a liquid so fast it splatters, etc) when one is handling materials that won't hurt you. At the same time, I also think it is important to teach discernment in what is and is not hazardous... in other words, to teach hazard assessment rather than rote "rules." That way we avoid unnecessary fear of "chemicals", as well as the potentially lethal belief that one is safe simply by virtue of wearing "the gloves I've always worn." The process of choosing appropriate gloves for the process, explaining when goggles are needed rather than safety glasses, explaining why gloves are used even if not truly necessary, etc... these are all excellent teaching moments. Mary M. Cavanaugh CIH University Industrial Hygienist Safety & Workers' Comp. Office cavanaughmm**At_Symbol_Here**appstate . edu (828) 262-6838 Direct (828) 262-2936 Fax -----Original Message----- From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of List Moderator Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 8:24 AM To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 2 Re: [DCHAS-L] Glove use in academic teaching labs From: "Latimer, Lee"
Date: August 11, 2009 9:08:22 PM EDT Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] 2 Re: [DCHAS-L] Glove use in academic teaching labs Rebecca and Pat, This is a worthwhile discussion. While indeed early experiments do use common household chemicals like salt for their components, the student is building skills as well as understanding. I would like to see them respect rather than fear what they work with and encounter. I believe that building good techniques will allow them to fear their materials less and handle them with respectful confidence. A part of good lab technique is good PPE. While the choice of latex vs nitrile gloves can come with understanding of the materials to be encountered, to wear gloves/Z87 safety glasses/labcoats or not is a very different judgment to me. I won't argue that salt solutions for density determinations and similar materials need gloves. It is the technique development and habits that are at the root of the desire on my part. As they move on to cleansers in the home, strippers for furniture, oil changes and garden treatments, many will make a judgment about the need for gloves and glasses that will be based on their experience. I hope that when they are in a lab that they know what is standard for lab situations and have practiced it since they first took labs so that when they become my colleagues, I know they have safety ingrained to their thoughts and I won't have to take them to a hospital because they didn't think they needed PPE. I find it amazing that we have PH.D. synthetic chemists coming to work in industrial labs who think from the lack of enforcement PPE in their academic training that personal glasses are safety glasses, that lab coats are a maybe item and that gloves are only for when something is hot, cold or sticky. So I'm in favor of improving the traditions of teaching technique, and reminding people that is an experiment because we don't know the outcome absolutely (Murphy's Law does happen). We appreciate the efforts you make in teaching understanding, judgment and technique. Lee
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