Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2010 10:30:13 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
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From: Margaret Rakas <mrakas**At_Symbol_Here**SMITH.EDU>
Subject: Re: Safety Training
Comments: To: wendycampbell**At_Symbol_Here**BOISESTATE.EDU

We decided last fall, with a new building coming online which used 'prox cards', that we now had a method for controlling access and thus a tool to ensure lab safety training occurred.

General lab safety training is required before a key can be issued (or their prox card can be coded).  I am cc'd on the initial request by the faculty member for room access.  I check my 'database'-an excel spreadsheet--a nd determine if the person has had general lab safety training.  If they haven't, I either contact the person with the next training date, or set up a doodle poll (such as at the beginning of the semester).  Last year I ended up having a training session (~45 minutes) nearly every week for about the middle 6 weeks of the semester.  I am a one-man 'shop', providing everything from RSO to BSO to CHO services, so this does take a level of commitment that my management has supported (I am not keen on web training--have never found the 'perfect' program, but I understand why it can be perfect for those institutions who have the personnel to put together sophisticated training videos, etc).

For students in our summer research program--we had about 130 this year, though not all were in the 'wet' labs--we require they attend a 2-hour session in order to receive their funding.  This is required even if they attended the seminar the previous summer, or received general lab safety training during the semester.  I have found email to be a very effective way to reach faculty, students and staff, and hope that it continues.

Ou r system isn't perfect--there is no current provision for refresher training, although with the number of students who 'repeat' the summer research program, it is effectively in place for those students doing the most research.  And people can certainly walk into the labs when they are open, or have a labmate open the door for them.  But the desire for a key or coded prox card is such that really everyone wants their own access.

Also, if you have an electronic procurement system (we don't) that might be another option for 'grabbing' them.  While I am guessing the PI has to finally approve the order, I am betting that many lab researchers at least can log on and compile orders.  Who inserts their name into the system?  Can you work with that unit to ensure they receive training before being able to order supplies?  Again, not fail-safe--they can ask their buddy to put their order in, use someone else's password, etc.--but if your institution has policies against password sharing and audits research groups ("Dr Smith, you REALLY are creating and submitting every single order?") then this can be another useful tool.

I do agree that short-term lab visitors (someone working for just a few days) or volunteers, esp. high school students, can be extremely difficult to 'catch'.  Faculty education is key, and so is repetition ("Yes, you must document specialized safety training.  Yes, there are special procedures for high school students...")

My point is, these researchers are 'unique' in having some 'privileges' like keys to labs, access to electronic procurement systems, etc.  If your institution has controls in place for handing out access to these 'privileges' then work with the departments involved.  You will need management support, but certainly with recent incidents in academia this is a cause they can support...

My personal opinion only...not business or legal advice...

>>> Wendy Campbell 08/27/10 7:41 PM >>>
I believe that's worth at least $2, as it's a very nice summary. 

The only point I would argue is that we should expect every faculty member (and staff and student) to be vigilant about safety and training, but unfortunately the reality is that they are not, and as you say, due to the lack of centralized controls, it can be quite difficult to force compliance.  

On Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 2:54 PM, Robin M. Izzo <rmizzo**At_Symbol_Here**p> wrote:

If only it were that simple=85 an outright ban on laboratory work until the worker has completed safety training.   In a way, we have that, but it is so much more complicated and I honestly believe that only those who work in academia can appreciate that.

I don=92t think Princeton=92s approach is unique, yet we still don=92t have 100% compliance.  We take it very seriously and are constantly looking for ways to improve, but it is an uphill battle, not because people don=92t care and not because people complain, but because universities are incredibly decentralized and it is unrealistic to expect that every faculty member is going to be vigilant about it.  If they are not, the decentralized nature means that there may not be enough additional checks and balances.


That=92s my 2 cents (given the length, maybe more like $2).





Robin M. Izzo, M.S.

Associate Director, EHS

Princeton University

609-258-6259 (office)


Leap and the net will appear. - Zen Saying

When you stumble, make it part of the dance. - Unknown


Save a tree...please don't print this or any document unless truly necessary.


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Wendy Campbell, ASP
Occupational Health and Safety Officer
Environmental Health and Safety
Boise State University
1910 University Drive
Boise, Idaho 83725-1826
Office: (208) 426-3303
Fax:  (208) 426-3343

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