Whew. THANK YOU, Rob. I was really getting depressed reading this thread. This was a wonderful entry. Face it, you can't teach young people to think. You have to wait until they've had at least two car accidents to even broach the subject with any hope. And the majority will NEVER learn to think.
We have to think for them until they've developed the right habits and discipline in the lab. Those habits hopefully will carry them through relatively unscathed until they are old enough to actually connect actions and consequences, assess risk, and take proper precautions.
In a message dated 3/8/2010 6:11:04 PM Eastern Standard Time, info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM writes:
Don't forget the classic tiny puddle of water on the desktop that is not really water but the deliquesced remains of an NaOH pellet from yesterday's experiment. "My, this feels warm and soapy, ow, ow , ow, gaaaaaahhhhh!"
There are plenty of reasons to wear PPE when you "aren't doing anything" in the laboratory. While in my experience it is less of an issue with gloves, it is an absolute must for eye protection - if you are in the lab, you wear eye protection (correctly), period even when you aren't doing anything.
I point to the student mentioned in paragraph 3 of this incident,: http://www.ilpi.com/safety/explosion.html He was my student in the previous semester and he made sure to thank me for training him properly. I have plenty of other serious examples I won't elaborate on here. Suffice it to say that safety culture is what PPE enforcement is all about. That means a hazard assessment of the entire laboratory, not just the particular experiment that day.
That said, as long as gloves, like eye protection or any form of PPE, are *required* under a clear and defined set of circumstances, how they are paid for is No Big Deal. Just be sure that no student forgoes PPE because of cost concerns by the student, the department, or the administration.
The final comment/scenario I'll add here is the 'ole run it by the lawyers one. If Something Happened in the lab (even something that didn't involve gloves, but called into question the overall safety program/attitude) and the plaintiff's attorney were to ask "Why weren't gloves available? What? But, a pair of gloves costs 10 cents, and you wouldn't even pay 10 cents to protect the students?", how do you think that kind of grandstanding would fly with a jury regardless of whether they were "really" necessary?
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