Thought I share with the group a comment from one of our colleague who is also a former fire chief re: extinguishers in the labs. Yes we do have them and yes we also trained all the students to their use during our regular lab safety training. On another note, fire safety (and extinguishers use) does add some excitement to the boring training that is lab safety, I was told. And some of our researchers did use them, others thought they are there to “water plants”.
Industrial Hygiene Services
Environmental Health and Safety
117 Draper hall
phone (413) 545-2682
Fax (413) 545-2600
email : pmorgan**At_Symbol_Here**ehs.umass.edu
From: James Field [mailto:jmfield**At_Symbol_Here**ehs.umass.edu]
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 1:38 PM
Subject: Re: FW: [DCHAS-L] Extinguishers and gloves
I agree with John Nail. A properly run
should deal with
1) small quantities
2) in a fume hood
3) should wear PPE appropriate to the work they are conducting
Given the above if a fire occurred it would be small and contained to the hood and should pose minimal exposure risk to the researcher allowing him/her to activate building alarm and then if appropriate extinguish the fire. This could prevent these small fires from becoming large lab fires.
FYI! more thoughts on researchers and extinguishers use.
Thanks for the training you all give to our resarchers. YM
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 10:21 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Extinguishers and gloves
From: "Nail, John" <jnail**At_Symbol_Here**okcu.edu>
Date: August 13, 2009 10:15:21 AM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Extinguishers and gloves
Let me see if I have this straight -
A researcher uses an extinguisher to put out a lab fire.
An OSHA investigator cites the institution for lack of documented
extinguisher training, despite the obvious fact that the researcher
was able to successfully put out the fire.
The local FD begins to remove extinguishers from the labs.
My suggestion about putting out trash can fires was in regards to the
OSHA training issue. BTW- when I was at another university, all
Chemistry department personnel were required to use an extinguisher to
put out an oil fire during the annual safety training.
As a trained firefighter, you can be as angry as you want to over the
idea that 'untrained' (unwashed?) people dare to put out fires. As a
trained chemist who has worked extensively with pyrophoric materials,
I am angry over your attitude that lab workers should not be allowed
to extinguish small lab fires. As an educator, I would not let
students use flammable liquids in a lab unless an extinguisher was
available for me to use in any incidents.
This idea of 'remove safety equipment because lab personnel are too
stupid/untrained/un trustworthy to use it properly is condescending,
and frankly, leads to an attitude that gets people killed.
What EVERYONE needs to recognize is that there is a significant
difference between a small hood fire and a major building fire.
Whomever first discovers the small hood fire should put it out if they
can do so safely, and yes, those of us who have handled dangerous
materials, know a thing or two about working safely. And, no, I would
try to fight a large fire. Yes, someone has to use their judgment when
assessing the situation.
Whether the issue is extinguishers in lab areas or freshman chemistry
students wearing gloves, the key question is 'do we teach how to
assess risks and use the PPE and safety equipment that is appropriate
to that risk or do we give students a mindless set of rules?'
In regards to the 'this is how its done in industry' argument, yes, I
have been in industry. Industry and academia are two very different
cultures. People in industry have different motivations than do people
in academia. Industry and academia are not valid comparisons.
It's easier to create rules than to think.
Professor of Chemistry
Hazardous Materials Control Manager
Environmental Health & Safety
303 Draper Hall
Previous post | Top of Page | Next post