What scares me the most about this response is the phrase "When it was reported as a concern to the safety officer and department chair, the response was that the instructor was a senior faculty member who had been teaching this a long time and knew what he was doing."
I have seen many headlines (as we all have) of lab accidents where the teacher in question said something like "I've taught this lesson many times before with no problem, so I don't know why this happened." The only time "teaching experience" prevents (or reduces the likelihood) of lab accidents is when that experience includes teaching safer practice.
Of greater concern, though, is the fact that the safety officer and the department chair ignored reports of unsafe practice. That kind of disregard needs to be reported to the Board of Education or Board of Directors.
As I often say: we have a lot of work to do.
Edward J. McGrath
Supervisor of Science
Red Clay Consolidated School District
1502 Spruce Avenue
Wilmington DE 19805
We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrowed it from our children.
I would be happy to talk with them. This is the type of assistance at which LSI excels.
Regards ... Jim
Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI)
-------- Original message --------
From: "David C. Finster" <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**WITTENBERG.EDU>
Date: 02/25/2016 7:58 PM (GMT-05:00)
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Help with advice for an academic colleague
I recently received the inquiry below. I would appreciate your advice and perspectives, which I can pass along.
"I have a friend who is concerned about one of their advanced laboratories. The instructor who teaches it has several hazardous experiments in the curriculum, and there have been sodium fires and other small accidents in the lab. The students don't have much preparation or thorough safety training for each experiment (they often don't know exactly what they'll be doing that day until after they arrive at lab). When it was reported as a concern to the safety officer and department chair, the response was that the instructor was a senior faculty member who had been teaching this a long time and knew what he was doing. The senior faculty member assured them that he didn't think there was any reason for concern, so my friend's requests for the problem to be addressed were essentially ignored. My friend is still quite concerned about laboratory safety (particularly since some staff and students have also expressed concern). I wasn't sure if ACS had any resources beyond the published booklets (which don't help if people won't acknowledge there is a problem). Do you know of any "experts" or other resources who could provide a review or lend some credibility to her concerns?"
David C. Finster
Professor, Department of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
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