Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2010 11:52:26 -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: James Schoonover <jamess**At_Symbol_Here**UCSC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Science Education & Safety - Follow-up

I empathize with Russ's concern.  I whole heartedly agree that anyone
pursuing chemistry or other lab intensive disciplines must be taught to m
good risk decisions.  The manner of teaching is critical and at what leve
they encounter hazards requires more than a belief in principles.  

Anyone working currently working with undergraduates realizes that standa
need to be high, but expectations must be realistic.  Parents protect fro
kids natural consequences and use artificial consequences to instill
awareness, concern and caution.  Letting many undergrads work with skin
absorb-able toxins, carcinogens and reactives can be like teaching your k
about cars by letting them play in the street.

Commonsense safety to chemists is highly variable and dependent upon thei
training and culture.  The chemists trained in yesteryear had a much broa
based education than what is afforded today.  The level of specialization

and sheer volume of information requires a different pedagogical approach

ACS has just published a number of articles on academic safety culture an
guidelines for undergraduate education.  My son graduated in June and
started work as a lab tech a few weeks ago.  He received more safety
training in the first week of work than in four years of classes and two
years as a lab tech in a research lab.  This was not because he wasn't
allowed to work with hazardous chemicals in University.  His actual expos
potential at work appears to be less than in academic labs.

Until students can demonstrate an understanding of the chemical hazards, 
methods and means of detecting their presence, the symptoms and signs of
overexposure and the principles and practices of safe handling, I don't
think they should play in the traffic... especially as a tuition-paying p

$.02 from a safety guy,
James W. Schoonover
Environmental Health and Safety Advisor to 
The Division of Physical and Biological Sciences
University of California Santa Cruz

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