>was Dr. Harran following the teaching, enforcing and compliance standards being followed at the time?
The legal answer to this question, as agreed to in the settlement in this specific case, was ‰??no‰??. One of the challenges in addressing this issue in the broader context is illustrated in a presentation by the Chair of the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety in 1964. He said:
"Legal requirements also enter into the question of safety in research, but will not be dealt with in detail in this presentation, since they involve professional judgments outside the competence of our committee. Certainly if humanitarian and ethical requirements are met, there are not likely to be any issues that will require legal action."
The social context that enabled this statement changed in the 1970‰??s with the advent of OSHA and EPA, but it‰??s not clear to me that chemical education has recognized this shift.
> >I find it hard to believe that Sangji was unaware of the physical properties of what she was working with, from either Dr. Harran, the classroom, her education level or a simple MSDS.
> >But, what I can hypothesize is that she was ‰??willing to accept the hazards‰?? thinking that, based upon her understanding/level of training of those hazards, she could work with them safely.
Legally, employees are not allowed to accept such hazards; it‰??s the employer‰??s responsibility to recognize and manage them. However, based on my personal experience as a lab tech and having trained many other professional lab techs and students at all levels, I‰??m not clear where this hypothesis comes from. I have had many graduate students tell me that they are unaware that ethanol is flammable, either verbally or through their actions.
Ralph Stuart, CIH
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