From: "CHANDRA, Tilak" <tchandra**At_Symbol_Here**FPM.WISC.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Colorado methanol fire case
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2014 16:58:54 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: AC64846C6B11EE4F97DEDF3ED857D65C2342BC0E**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <8D1BF2E3C97EF4C-1E88-1322D**At_Symbol_Here**>

I completely agree with Monona and others in this forum. There are two issues here: teaching and research. To perform experiment requires hands-on experience, whereas teaching theory doesn't require hands-on experience.


In a laboratory set-up if a new student (unexperienced) is setting a Grignard reaction set-up (RB flask, condenser, dropping funnel etc., he may end up cutting his fingers during inserting Tygon� tubing to a condenser. An experienced researcher will think/ or apply a correct technique for the same. It is all about skills and culture of the organization. This methanol fire is recurring issue in high school labs and other places, and such experiments should be handled by a professional teacher (practically experienced) and a proper hazard assessment should be completed before manipulating methanol with hot objects.






From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU]On Behalf Of Monona Rossol
Sent: Sunday, October 26, 2014 7:20 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Colorado methanol fire case


1.  Since I'm a regulatory wonk, it seems to me the mechanism for fixing this is already known.  I'd like to see schools institute the OSHA requirement for doing a risk assessment for any non-routine work.  The risk assessment should be in writing using the matrix as suggested by OSHA.  Then if we add a little flourish that is used in England it might really work.  I first saw this used by the Safety Director at Covent Garden for special effects or any special stage effect.  The task is not done until the written risk assessment is signed by the person who wants to do the effect. 


I caused a lot of people to think more deeply about doing the effect.


In case you think this is minor, this was explained during a panel discussion in which three people representing theaters (two opera) were discussing how a worker's death had changed their safety procedures.


2.  I also think the school should be indicted. While no rule was broken by hiring an unlicensed and inexperienced teacher, providing the proper supervision and training needed for safety is always the obligation of the employer.




Monona Rossol, M.S., M.F.A., Industrial Hygienist

President:  Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, Inc.

Safety Officer: Local USA829, IATSE

181 Thompson St., #23

New York, NY 10012     212-777-0062





-----Original Message-----
From: Wilhelm, Monique <mwilhelm**At_Symbol_Here**UMFLINT.EDU>
Sent: Sat, Oct 25, 2014 6:06 pm
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Colorado methanol fire case

Hello Everyone,


I was so sad to read about the recent Boy Scout incident after seeing this and so many other similar incidents in the news recently.


I truly appreciate the comments left by both Peter Zavon and John Straughn.  Combined they reflect the fact that there is a significant difference between common sense or knowledge and "lab sense" or "science sense".  I am not going to comment or criticize about any of our school systems as I do not know enough about how either of them are structured.    I understand that we live in a society of access to information without all of the details and that some people have more training than others to know whether or not they are missing critical information (such as the hazards associated with a YouTube video they just watched�.besides, they plan to do it exactly the same as what they watched and nothing bad happened there, right?).


I am choosing to attempt to get the information out that many science demos DO have hazards and that one must not do any "science demo" or "demo involving chemicals (even household ones)" for a group of people without first consulting with at least two other people who have direct experience doing what they are trying to replicate.  I am doing this by contacting local teacher's organizations (not just the science ones), museums, after school programs, children's groups (such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, TeenQuest), and school districts that I could find in my area by email and providing the information for them to pass along.  I have also talked directly to several teachers, group leaders, and informal education educators.  Maybe I should also offer several of these groups the opportunity to meet with me to discuss the possibility of having me join them for a group presentation/meeting to discuss the hazards that exist and offer to be a resource for advice on safe demo alternatives and contacts for others with experience with certain demos to contact to perform them for them.  It seems that there is no such resource around here that I am aware of.


We recognize that this is a problem.  But, how do we effectively get the information to those that need it?  What are others doing to get the word out?  I have personally found it difficult to penetrate (for lack of a better term) my local educator network effectively despite working directly with the Director of the school district's Math and Science Center Director and performing demos in about a dozen of the schools.




From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU]On Behalf Of Peter Zavon
Sent: Saturday, October 25, 2014 9:46 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Colorado methanol fire case


Common sense is that knowledge that is held in common.  Science in general is not part of the common knowledge of the US population, so is not part of "common sense."


In my opinion, those who urge others to " use common sense" are saying things equivalent to "be more careful" as a future action in an accident investigation. It is a comforting noise to those uttering it, but offers no guidance or direction to the recipient.



Peter Zavon, CIH
Penfield, NY




From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU]On Behalf Of Ernie Lippert
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 5:55 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Colorado methanol fire case


Haven't you noticed. People nowadays are generally stupid. Common sense has somehow escaped as part of our current society. Our parents (in an older time) taught us  common sense.  Where has it disappeared?


Ernest Lippert


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU]On Behalf Of Leslie Coop
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 2:34 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Colorado methanol fire case


Perhaps someone should ask the school he went to why he wasn't taught chemical safety procedures.




On Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 10:12 AM, Ralph Stuart <rstuartcih**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

I was struck the story in this morning's headlines that the Former Colorado Teacher was charged  with four counts of third-degree assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor in the methanol demonstration lab explosion that occurred last month.

This seems much more likely to set a precedent than the UCLA fire, which was based on labor law specific to California. I hope that people who are in Colorado will let us know how this case proceeds, as it's not uncommon for these stories to fall off the press's radar.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart

Leslie Coop, MS, CCHO, CHMM

Chemical Hygiene Officer/ Stockroom Manager

Willamette University - 900 State Str - Salem, Oregon 97301

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