We are a state university with approx 16,000 students total. Our department has about 300, mostly undergraduate students per year. We have a very small amount of graduate students in our Polymers area (< 10/year). Otherwise, all the other students in labs are undergrads doing research with faculty.
Our CHP states the following:<a. Working alone (28) while using hazardous chemicals is fundamentally unsafe. Work with
hazardous substances or processes must be done only when there is at least one other person present
who is familiar with the work being done. A small accident has the potential of becoming a
catastrophe if the accident victim is alone.>
In addition, our Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry has even stricter rules about working alone in the laboratory and the hours they can work. We do NOT allow anyone to work alone in the labs. They must have a "buddy" within hailing distance as stated in our Policies and Procedures for Research Students:
<1. Students must never work in laboratories
alone. There must be a "buddy"
at least within hailing
distance. (He/she can hear you and aid
you in case of an accident.) A buddy is defined as a person conversant
in the processes and materials being used and be able to render assistance in case of an accident.>
Most new research students are limited to working hours of 8 am to 5 pm daily. If you have been doing research for more than a quarter and your PI agrees, they can sign off on you increasing your work hours to 7 am to 9 pm Monday - Friday. Any work outside those times, they must fill out a sheet agreeing that they will have a buddy present and their PI must sign and approve the sheet so they are aware they will be working in the lab for that specific time period (overnight or weekends).
Again, it is easier to enforce without many graduate students. We do take working alone very seriously though and so far, have been able to convince the faculty that this is the right way to operate.
"Kim Auletta" <kim.auletta**At_Symbol_Here**STONYBROOK.EDU>To:
Monday, September 10, 2012 11:49:15 AMSubject:
[DCHAS-L] Academic Facilities: Undergrads in research labs - restrictions?
We are working on updating our Chemical Hygiene Plan. I'm clarifying/strengthening the "working alone" section. I've separated the requirements into 4 groups - HS students, undergrads, grads and above and clinical fellows (MDs in labs). When working with hazardous materials, I've restricted HS students to constant supervision, UG to someone else (fully trained) within lab/earshot, grads+ can work alone w/ PI approval & clinical to "buddy system" (someone who will check on them, but they don't have to be in lab).
I'm getting some comments from PIs on the draft policy about the undergrads that is surprising.
I'd like to know what other universities have in writing for "working alone" policies, and specifically for UG students conducting independent research in labs with hazardous materials (chem, bio, rad). I'm looking for something more than the "working alone should be avoided" statements - we all have that & know its an unsafe condition & industry would never allow it.
I appreciate your insight & guidance as usual!
I'll compile responses that come directly to me.
Kim Gates Auletta
Laboratory Safety Specialist
Environmental Health & Safety
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-6200