From: "Nail, John" <jnail**At_Symbol_Here**OKCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Judge denies three Harran defense motions
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2013 17:54:13 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
My training as a first year grad student in a lab in which virtually all syntheses involved pyrophors was the apprentice method. I worked under the supervision of a third year grad student until my trainer judged that I was competent with the techniques
to not waste expensive chemicals, break expensive glassware/equipment, needlessly start fires or harm others/myself.
Cooks use the phrase 'mise en place'. The chemistry equivalent is 'thinking through your experiment'.
We can hold formal training sessions and give written exams, however, the bottom line is that the lab worker either has learned to think through his/her work, anticipate what he/she will need (and in pyrophor work, having the appropriate glassware in the
oven ready to be used), perform the techniques correctly (which includes not wasting chemicals, starting needless fires, etc.), or he/she hasn't.
Sorry, but formal training sessions and exams are no replacement for doing the actual work while a trained researcher is in the room keeping an eye on the person being trained. I note that under today's legal standards, a trainer could be held criminally
responsible for acts performed by someone that he/she trained, creating a potential barrier towards proper 'do it under supervision until you've proven yourself' training.
I note that in the UCLA incident, Ms. Sanji had performed the reaction once on a smaller scale. Doing it once with or without supervision clearly wasn't sufficient training.
One of the contributors to the incident was not thinking through the scale up, another indicator that she was not ready to 'solo'.
Just my devalued $0.02 worth.
Professor of Chemistry
Oklahoma City University
> And "documented training" means exactly what it says. Sit down sessions provided by the school or the professor with attendance taken and ideally a short test at the end to
provide proof of comprehension.
I don't entirely agree with this. In my mind, a training program consists not only of a single explanation of the expectations for doing hazardous work, but follow up oversight
through observations of the worker and inspections of the work process over time. Otherwise, this process does not demonstrate comprehension, but simply appears to be a transfer of responsibility from the supervisor to the trainee.
The challenge in an academic environment is that the institutional culture is oriented towards education rather than training and there are no expectations for follow up after
the final test in the educational setting. This expectations gap is part of the challenge the National Research Council's Task Force on laboratory safety culture is facing.
Ralph Stuart CIH
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Department of Environmental Health and Safety
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