From: Kristi Ohr <kohr**At_Symbol_Here**AMHERST.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Microbiology lab safety: faculty:student ratio
Date: September 27, 2012 2:11:34 PM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <CAEwQnqhjCmvUMPi6zXdBgnAu1oZy61RxkQuP34G6FpDx=Z+gOA**At_Symbol_Here**>

Aren't these things typically rooted in the fire code as well, or at least what the local fire folks want you to do?


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED..CORNELL.EDU] on behalf of Jeffrey Lewin [jclewin**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2012 11:50 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Microbiology lab safety: faculty:student ratio

I checked with our microbiologist to see if there were any American Society of Microbiologist guidelines.  Here is her response (I have some additional commentary after that):

"I just checked through ASM's draft biosafety guidelines and there is no mention of lab sizes or student: instructor ratios.  This is a topic that is discussed about once a year on the microbiology educators' listserve; there are widely varying numbers, as one might expect.

However, the guidelines do recommend that microincinerators or disposable loops/needeles be used even in a BSL1 lab in place of Bunsen burners "whenever possible" (due to the possibility of aerosol generation.  (This is not optional for a BSL2 lab.)"

My additional comments:

We generally cap our biology labs at 24 (the room design), although micro is generally capped at 18, mostly for historical reasons (the old room they used only had 16 bench spaces).  Biochemistry is similarly capped at 16 because of equipment limitations.  All sections of all labs are staffed with one instructor; depending on the lab it may be the faculty member, a graduate student teaching assistant, or in rare cases, and advanced undergraduate.  Many of the labs have started to utilize Undergraduate Teaching Assistants who are in addition to the lab instructor.  UTA's are usually volunteers although some do it for credit.  Labs that do utilize UTAs (micro is one of them) generally have one UTA although some instructors have assigned as many as three in addition to the GTA (I find three too many and recommend one or two).

Jeff Lewin
Departmental Laboratory Supervisor
Michigan Technological University

On Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 5:36 PM, Ferm, Barret <fermbarreta**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
Dear Lab Safety Professionals,

   I have been asked if there are well established guidelines (read: defensible) for limits of student: instructor ratios, or other specific data, reasoning, etc., regarding introductory microbiology laboratory (where only BSL/RG 1 organisms are used).
   Currently, the micro labs are capped at 12 students.  There is one instructor (no TA), and every student works with his/her own Bunsen burner.  The lab has seats for 24 students (the lab is multi-purpose).  An administrator wants to double class size to 24, but the biology faculty feel doing so will compromise the learning environment, quite possible from a safety perspective.
   Are there any persuasive arguments against a 24:1 student:instructor ratio in microbiology in particular? They are dealing with an administrator, so the only picture said administrator can see thus far is 12 micro students occupying a space that can hold 24 general biology students. The adage that fewer is better is non-specific. Please advise if you know of guidelines pertaining to micro or similar settings. Thanks!

Barry Ferm

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

On Sat, Sep 22, 2012 at 1:46 PM, Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
Someone pointed out to me yesterday that there is a free App in the iTunes store called Green Solvents, which provides a reference card for chemical solvents, with data regarding their "greenness": safety, health and environmental effects. I thought that members of the list would be interested in knowing about this.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart
Division of Chemical Health and Safety
American Chemical Society

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