Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 14:47:18 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
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From: "Tsiakals, Nicholas John" <tsiakals**At_Symbol_Here**ILLINOIS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Safety Training
In-Reply-To: <48A020E1942E024DB0F2A6B68A131244080100E756**At_Symbol_Here**>

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Debbie et al,

I think a key concept here is the de facto business model in academia.  Far from being a highly centralized, command-and-control organization, acad emia is heavily de-centralized in many ways.  Easy to say, but what does th at mean? 

I have taken to saying that each PI is the CEO of their own research shop.  The buck stops with them.  Their business is research, mea ning the widgets they produce are publications of research results, they recruit their “employees” to explore research questions, their research enterprises rise and fall on how well they keep their research machine moving along.  Each CEO has to line up enough “venture capital” in the form of grant money, so the Grant Application machine has got to be humming.  Academic departments are not tightly managed business units with production goals, b ut loose federations of CEOs.  Colleges and Universities are loose federations of these loose federations.  (This may all sound like a monstrosity, but how can a department head dictate research goals to a faculty member, especiall y when many of these leadership positions are subject to term limits?)  For the small business CEO with the research shop, membership in the “res earch consortium” means certain risks are centralized away (such as medical coverage for research personnel involved in an accident) while opportunitie s remain to advance one’s career reputation as a prolific researcher.

So it seems to me.  Your results may vary.

Not intended as an excuse for the state of affairs, but a description of the lay of the land.  And not at all intended as repres entative of my employer, etc.


From: DCHAS-L Discu ssion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Debbie M. Decker
Sent: Monday, August 30, 2010 12:07 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Safety Training

Robin and Rob make some excellent points, from both directions.  Here at Davis, I provide general chemical and laboratory safety training.  Yes, it’s stand-up training and I reach about 1500 folks per year.  I’m working on an on-line refresher but it just doesn’t have that special “Debbie touch” <grin>.

Many departments won’t issue keys until students compl ete my training.  Many PIs have a similar policy.  More departments/P Is all the time are implementing that requirement.  It’s not up to me (or EH&S) to make sure folks have training before they head into the lab.  That’s the responsibility of the PI/supervisor and the dep artment to put those requirements in place.

When I started here, lab safety training was offered about e very 6 weeks or so with maybe 20 people attending.  At the beginning of the fall quarter, I’ll have at least one training per week – someti mes more.  It’s taken a long time to get to this point but for a big institution like UC Davis, changing the culture (turning the aircraft carri er) takes a while.

Just my $0.02.



Debbie M. Decker, Campus Chemical Safety Officer
Environmental Health and Safety
University of California, Davis
1 Shields Ave.
Davis, CA  95616
(530)754-7964/(530)681-1799 (cell)

(530)752-4527 (FAX)
Co-Conspirator to Make the World A
Better Place -- Visit www.HeroicS and join the conspiracy


Safety is the first and foremost concern in *every* laboratory operation.  Period.  You relax that rule, bend it, or break it and the consequences (as we have seen) can be fatal.  Reinfor cing the importance of safety by *requiring* safety training before *any* work begins telegraphs the role of safety and is an important first step (of man y) that academia needs to take to embrace the safety culture mindset.

Rob Toreki

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On Aug 27, 2010, at 4:54 PM, Robin M. Izzo wrote:

If only it were that simple… an outright ban on labora tory 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 o nly those who work in academia can appreciate that.

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