Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2010 20:27:16 -0400
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From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: 3 more RE: [DCHAS-L] Safety Training

From: "Jean & Ken Smith" <smith.j.k**At_Symbol_Here**>
Date: August 26, 2010 4:24:58 PM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Safety Training

In my 20+ years with Cal/OSHA, I found that some of the worst places for safety and health enforcement was in the education sector.  High schools were clueless to the requirements and needs for the chemistry stockrooms.  Universities were not much better.  Usually the EHS departments were relatively powerless to enforce various needs and rulings.  They would have to go through the department heads to get a grudging OK.


Way back, I remember a case where asbestos was involved in a university where we were getting stonewalled, so my supervisor finally threatened one of the chancellors with a court date.  That got their attention and the case was taken care of.


That attitude is what leads to cases like the recent email about the student who got three fingers blown off and various other injuries while preparing a high energy explosive in the lab without any safety devices present - not even a blast shield!  The university finally got the message and instituted a strong program that should have been in place long before.  But, the independence of the department heads who are the administrators of their grants often seem to be at odds with the EHS at their facility(ies).


My rant for the day,
Ken Smith
Former chemist and CIH



From: McGrath Edward J <Edward.McGrath**At_Symbol_Here**redclay.k1>
Date: August 26, 2010 7:57:18 PM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] 3 Re: [DCHAS-L] Safety Training

A little hope from the world of K-12 academia:

Recognizing that our teachers frequently have to "triage" their meetings, my district has allowed me the leverage to bring safety training to the teachers to match their needs.  There have been many years (and this will probably be one) where teachers who missed the main Right-to-know training received a one-on-one make-up.  It's very simple--they must have the safety training before they begin teaching lab activities--period.  My job (one of them) is to make that happen by any means necessary.  I've given the training before school, during planning periods, even during lunch.

The best part is that over the years, if a teacher misses the first safety training, they are hounding me for the make-up!  They have come to depend on annual training, and I am happy to oblige.  Our assistant superintendant requires me to submit documentation of this for all science teachers each year.  As a result, our district (27 schools) take laboratory safety very seriously.

In the same vein, teachers require students to submit a signed safety contract (signed by parents) before lab work begins.  All legalities aside, the bottom line is that these procedures are part of a district safety plan designed to keep the children safe.  There's no argument against safety training with this bottom line--ever.

Edward J. McGrath
Science Supervisor
Red Clay Consolidated School District


From: "Schmidt-Nebril, Kathleen" <kschmidtnebril**At_Symbol_Here**>
Date: August 26, 2010 5:17:47 PM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Safety Training

I have now been in academia for 10 years but was originally in industry for 11 years and have to admit I too feel that we are leaps and bounds behind.  At least in our case there seems to be a lacking attitude by most faculty as to committing their time to "Safety Training" which I hold for all employees every summer.  Most of the time I can easily get the cooperation of our student workers but not my colleagues.  There is no system of enforcement in place from the Chair or the Dean so I continue to hold the training, document who completes it and respond to safety issues when needed.  I too feel strongly that enforcement needs to be supported by upper administration and if it is absent then employees will continue to treat "Safety"  with a lack luster attitude.  

Kathleen Schmidt-Nebril, NRCC-CHO
Chemistry Division Department of Natural Science
Dominican University
River Forest, IL 60305

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