We are a private undergraduate college with approximately 1,500 students. Our Chemistry department has roughly 40 to 50 students total and no graduate students. Our curriculum has a research requirement for all 4 BS programs (Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, CHO, Pharmaceutical Chemistry), our BA program does not require a research component.
Currently our CHP advises, under General safety considerations:
=B7 Avoid working alone in the laboratory
=B7 Never work alone in the department (i.e. only person in the department).
=B7 Always notify others of your presence and your work plans.
We are in the process of revising this section of our CHP to further clarify acceptable work practices as we realize the current wording is sketchy. The following is the proposed addition:
Our policies regarding research students and research assistants (employed through grants):
Section 5. Research Assistant/Student Work standards:
Work Hours and Policy
=B7 Standard research lab work hours are 9:00am - 5:00 pm Monday through Friday
=B7 Before entering a lab to work the Research Advisor and/or the Lab Coordinator must be made aware of workers presence
=B7 Research Advisor and/or the Lab Coordinator must be informed of work plans
=B7 A means of communication must be on hand in case of emergency
Non-Standard Work Hours and Policy
Working with Hazardous Materials
Since our department is small compared to a University, I feel it's somewhat easier to agree on things and work together on our safety policies, but there are still the occasions when folks get hedgy about being restricted.
Chemical Hygiene Officer, Lab Coordinator, Lecturer
Department of Chemistry
WV Wesleyan College
Buckhannon, WV 26201
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.
From: "Kim Auletta" <kim.auletta**At_Symbol_Here**STONYBROOK.EDU>
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2012 11:49:15 AM
Subject: [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!
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