From: "Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety" <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] UC - LADA Agreement
Date: August 7, 2012 11:17:17 AM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <EE208D70-D3A2-4AD1-BA75-2A1C744C50B5**At_Symbol_Here**DCHAS.ORG>

From: "Robin M. Izzo"
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] UC - LADA Agreement
Date: August 7, 2012 9:58:37 AM EDT

I've been away and I am just catching up on this thread.

Like most of my peers in academia, my group has the authority discussed in these posts. In our case, we have an escalation process that reaches the Dean for Research or the Dean of the Faculty. I can shut down a lab if I feel it necessary. I can impose safety requirements. We have policies and procedures, resources, training and other elements that are part of a good safety program.

But that doesn't mean that we are not just as vulnerable to what UCLA, Texas Tech and others have experienced, because at any given time, a student, faculty, post-doc, visiting researcher, etc can make a poor choice. Our laboratories are filled with young people who tend to be more risk-averse, feel invincible and think nothing bad is going to happen to them. In some cases, the people responsible managing the lab have no management experience, don't feel comfortable with confrontation, don't know how to manage performance.

The auto insurance industry charges higher rates for drivers under 25. Why? Because young drivers have less experience and take more risks. Now think of the average age of laboratory workers in academic research labs. How many times do you see a PI/lab manager well under the age of 30 outside of academia? Yet a brand new assistant professor may be well under 30, never had management responsibility or some of the other attributes of a strong manager.

It's not all about age. In academia, most of the people in our research labs have never left college life - they go from undergrad to grad to post-doc to assistant professor to professor. They live in a world where everything we think we know is questioned, analyzed, challenged. They ask why. It's not enough just to tell them the rules - we are further challenged to help them to understand WHY.

We do have a challenge in academia. My colleagues work hard to foster a positive culture of safety and we are making headway. We work with upper administration. We collaborate with faculty. It's not easy, but we are doing it, and organizations like ACS and CSHEMA help us get there by sharing what works.

We know what doesn't work. Being the safety police doesn't work. Being collaborative, offering tools and resources like the ones that ACS does such a wonderful job developing, encouraging open discussion of safety works. Most of the time.

I am not wasting my life. I am trying to make a difference. I am proud to be an EHS professional in academia - there's no place I'd rather be.


Robin M. Izzo, M.S.
Associate Director, EHS
Princeton University
609-258-6259 (office)

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