Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2010 10:50:06 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Subject: Re: Safety Training
In-Reply-To: <COL124-W8A7C6648C59DCA0412CBAC8850**At_Symbol_Here**phx.gbl>

Academia needs to wake up and have a simple outright ban on all laboratory work until the worker has completed their mandatory safety training.    We don't allow folks to start driving and then "get around to" getting their driver's licenses, do we?

I agree that most EHS departments have enough grief being seen as an arcane enforcer rather than safety/productivity partner in academia, however this one simple rule needs to be written in stone so it isn't unwritten in blood.

In my 4 years at MIT, not one person ever said "I can't wait to start work but have to take my training class first."   They just started in the lab.  Now, that was back in the days when the web was still a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee's eye and things have likely improved to a fair degree.  However, the attitude of "work now and safety when I get around to it" is still rampant at most academic institutions and is a direct result of failure to promote safety culture.   

I conjecture that this failure of academic institutions to teach and promote safety culture in their curriculum and department is the root cause of the vast majority of accidents at such institutions.  Training should start on day 1 with the formal presentations, and on day 1 the message should be that safety is an integral part of planning every single laboratory operation (not just experiments, either).  Safety planning/procedure should be written into the laboratory notebook of every undergraduate student (and for that matter, graduate student and postdoc).  Only then can our system start graduating students competent in safety culture - students who can then go on to industry without culture shock or into academia with the seeds of long-overdue change.

Rob Toreki

PS: One other issue at the major institutions is that it is simply impossible for the PI of a 20-person group to be on top of all safety matters in their operation.  Authority is delegated or diffused to the point that folks are basically winging it in many cases.  I know people who saw their research advisor perhaps once every two or three weeks and they were lucky to talk to him or her for 20 minutes.  Those previous moments will focus on one's thesis work results from the past 2 weeks and plans for the coming 2 weeks are the reason for the meeting; safety will never, *ever* come up.  But this digresses into another conversational thread.

 ======= ========================= ======================
Safety Emporium - Lab & Safety Supplies featuring brand names
you know and trust.  Visit us at
esales**At_Symbol_Here**  or toll-free: (866) 326-5412
Fax: (856) 553-6154, PO Box 1003, Blackwood, NJ 08012

On Aug 26, 2010, at 9:53 AM, Dan Herrick wrote:

As others have noted, the approach that works well in industry won't work as well in academia.  If the people not attending training are employees of the academic institution (facilities staff, maybe?), you may be able to implement some of the performance-based consequences whcih have been suggested.  For faculty, undergrads, grad students, and post-docs, this is not realistic.  

We have web-based training for a number of modules (Haz Waste, General Chem, etc) and we require documentation of Lab Specific training every year.  All training is also recorded in a system where we can track metrics by PI and follow up on incomplete training.  For continually non-compliant folks, I try all the usual channels - multiple emails, reminders of when live courses are given, attempts to give live courses to an entire research group at a group meeting all at once, etc.  Usually people complete training eventually, if only because they are sick of my repeated emails.  Sometimes it comes down to individual visits with individual PIs - they may not be actively "avoiding" training , they may just legitimately be extremely busy.  If one "sells" it right, this can come across not as "You didn't do your training!" but "How can I help you ensure the safety of your laboratory in the most effective way?"  In the long run, the latter is more helpful than the former.

A lot of it does come down to the safety culture that is created within the academic institution.  If EHS is viewed as a helpful partner in ensuring that research proceeds in an effective manner, and if there is buy-in from University leadership and Departmental leadership regarding established safety programs, then "escalating" the continually non-compliant to the next level of "management" is straight-forward and should produce results.  If EHS is viewed as merely an ancillary part of the campus that enforces regulatory codes or as a group which tends to impede research being done, or if top level folks at the University are not interested in or engaged in safety, the task is much harder.

Good luck.
EHS Coordinator
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mechanical Engineering Department, Research Laboratory of Electronics,
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 16:01:19 -0600
From: ldamon**At_Symbol_Here**FVCC.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Safety Training
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU

I am wondering how others address employees =93blowing-off=94 safety training.  There always seem to be the few employees that invariably are no shows for the trainings.


Thanks in advance for your replies=85


Laura Damon

Coordinator of Instructional Safety and Chemical Hygiene

Flathead Valley Community College


< /div>

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.