As many of you may know, the ACS Committee on Professional Training has been in the process of revising its Guidelines and Evaluation Procedures for Undergraduate Professional Education in Chemistry for the past three years. The revision process is described at:
A "white paper" was distributed in January of 2013 (and can be accessed as the link above) and the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety formally replied to the safety sections in that report largely in a positive fashion.
I have recently (today!) noticed that the CPT has now published a draft of the new Guidelines, dated 10/7/2014. It is at:
The CPT has invited comments with a due date of December 1. Of particular interest to CHAS members will be the changes in requirements regarding safety instruction. This includes Section 4.5 on page 7 and Section 7.3 on pages 12-13. Most of the bulleted items in Section 4.5 about "Laboratory Safety Resources" are actually requirements already mandated by OSHA and the EPA (since TAs and faculty are employees in labs otherwise occupied mostly by students). Section 7.5 is about "Development of Student Skills", and issues related to safety instruction are listed as "Laboratory Safety Skills." (I argued, unsuccessfully, with the CPT about moving the topic of safety instruction to "Curriculum" rather than "Development of Student Skills". Alas. I will try again in 5-6 years when the Guidelines are revised again...)
As some point of reference, I consider the requirements about safety instruction to be an "upgrade" from the 2008 Guidelines (which can be accessed online at the CPT website if you want to do the comparison.) One measure of change is the degree to which the CPT (carefully) uses the verbs "must" (or "needs to") vs. "should". The ratio of "musts"/"shoulds" has significantly increased in the proposed Guidelines. (This is a good thing, I think.)
As an aside, I will finally note that George Wilson of the University of Kansas has been a champion for safety in the CPT and in this revision process. George is a former member of the CPT and now functions as a consultant to the CPT. He was instrumental in preparing the CPT "Safety Supplement" in 2012 (available online). Thank George for his efforts if you see him sometime at an ACS meeting.
With regard to sending comments to the CPT by December 1: please do so if you are so moved. My judgment is that the proposed Guidelines have been discussed and vetted a great deal over the past two years and further major (or even minor) changes are unlikely but I have always believed that the CPT has functioned in a "listening" mode.
David C. Finster
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
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