From: Barbara Foster <bfoster**At_Symbol_Here**WVU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Enforcing safety rules among instructors
Date: January 25, 2012 1:45:07 PM EST
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <CE82A091FC41F7488B2C2E8F0FFF6BC8130FEE7EC3**At_Symbol_Here**>

1. The first step is to make sure that your policies are in writing and are distributed to all TAs. I sent you a copy of my book, "Laboratory Safety and Management: A Handbook for Teaching Assistants". In this book, I include the various duties and responsibilities that are part of the contractual obligation of the TA. The writing should be clear and concise to avoid any confusion of "recommend" or "should" or "mandatory". Our TAs appreciate having this information in writing and in one document. This book should also inform the TAs of the consequences of NOT following the safety policies of the department, which brings me to...
2. Meet with departmental administration (i.e., chair or head and safety committee) and hammer out a clear and concise course of action for those who willingly refuse to follow the safety policies in lab. Also, the administration must appoint someone in charge of oversight of all of the TAs in the labs. A TA who was not following the safety rules would be directed to this person and he/she would meet with the TA. The first meeting might involve counseling, much as you would expect with any staff member who has made a mistake and not followed policy. The TA would be reminded of the importance of following the rules and advised that a second meeting would not be in their best interest. If there is a second meeting, the impact of their behavior on their continued employment would be discussed. Usually, this meeting is sufficient, and a third meeting is not necessary. Again, any laboratory safety program MUST have the support at the top of the administrative ladder.
3. Make the graduate student's research advisor aware of the fact that this student is becoming a liability in the labs, NOT an asset, by not following the rules. I have observed spectacular behavior modifications after the research advisor was informed of the situation.
4. Never give up.  The situation will improve, but it will require training. All of my TAs must attend mandatory training (by me) and I use photos and anecdotal discussion to drive home my points about setting the professional example in the lab so that their students will follow their example.
As always, you can call me if you wish to discuss further.
Best regards,

Barbara L. Foster, NRCC-CHO
Certified Chemical Hygiene Officer
Director of Laboratory Safety
C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry
West Virginia University
Phone (304) 293-2729

>>> "Humphrey, Karalyn J." <Karalyn_Humphrey**At_Symbol_Here**BAYLOR.EDU> 1/25/2012 11:54 AM >>>

I need your help, please.  I'm at an institution where graduate (and sometimes undergraduate) students teach our undergraduate Chemistry labs.  Those of us who are lab coordinators often come into the labs to find the student instructors not wearing the appropriate PPE.  How do you enforce this at other institutions?  I'm trying to make a case to our department that there needs  to be consequences for student instructors who don't tow the line.  Right now the methods are a stern talking to, bouncing them from one lab to another, and "putting a note in their file"..


Thanks in advance.


Dr. Karalyn (Karen) Humphrey


Laboratory Coordinator, Department Safety Officer & Part-Time Lecturer

Baylor University Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Office: BSB E.111

Phone:  254-710-2002

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." - Lao Tzu


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.