From: Jeffrey Lewin <jclewin**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Thought question: Chemical safety for biologists
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2016 09:33:14 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: CAEwQnqji9JAWV5qpkhC65Oj=Xs9yerrt7zpPJPQL5PsJujiK9A**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <9F6EC686-BB3C-432A-AC5B-1232A6F854C9**At_Symbol_Here**>


I've already sent my training regiment to the list; while overkill for some students we pretty much expect all students working a lab to complete it. One of the take home points I hope I made clear was that we expect the lab PI will take responsibility in safety instruction during a given activity.

That said, if I was given 30 minutes to do what you are proposing I'd modify a lecture I've given (and one of my favorite) on general safety hierarchy. I've used this with medical laboratory science majors, undergraduate engineers taking my biology class and as part of a lecture for graduate students science and engineering:

Give the students a hazard, usually I pick generic chemical hazards or microbiology hazard; depending on the audience you can even pick a specific chemical or hazardous microbe.

Ask the students to work in small groups to make a list of all the methods of mitigating the hazard. Tell them to "think big."

In some classes I let the students do this next step categorizing it among themselves, but since you are short on time:

After the students have made their list, ask them to give you the items on their list. As you write them on the board categorize them (do not put them in hierarchy order yet; I generally categorize them in the order they are given to me, which usually leads to the order below):


Administrative controls

Engineering controls

If you get them you can include the categories "elimination" and "reduction/substitution"

Then you talk about ranking them from "the step you should consider first to the step that, while not unimportant, you've considered all the others before implementing this step for primary protection."

Sometimes you will get someone to say it, but usually I have to prompt them with "what is the absolute best way to mitigate a hazard." Usually with some short discussion you can get "Elimination" out of them, and often you can get them to think about substitution/reduction/using a less hazardous chemical.

As you rank the next three categories you can help fill in the blanks:

Engineering controls - have short discussion on fume hoods and biological safety cabinets about confirming they are on, appropriate use (BSC are not for chemical hazards), common problems (air currents in the lab from people walking by them, how to enter and remove your hands, not using them for storage)

Administrative controls - fill in missing ones such as SOP's and other instructions that should be available to them, the importance of thinking about what to do with a waste _before_ you start the experiment, labeling secondary containers and other available resources such as safety manuals, SDS's, CHP's

PPE - an opportunity to explain the different levels of protection afforded by safety glasses vs. goggles, that there is no one glove (you don't wear leather for acid protection or thin latex gloves when removing stuff from an autoclave), when to use FR lab coats. For biology labs one thing you might consider talking about is when to remove gloves with particular emphasis on not wearing them in the hallway, when using personal items such as cell phones, etc.

I have some specific power point slides that might be of use if you want them.


On Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 1:21 PM, Stuart, Ralph <Ralph.Stuart**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
Thanks to everyone for their thoughts on chemical safety training for bio lab workers. I'd like to provide a couple of potentially clarifying points about the context of my question:

- These students will be doing biological research rather than in classes, so the chemicals they work with may or may not be well-defined when the training occurs. Various students will definitely be working with different chemicals in different labs; for example, some will be using formalin, others will never see it in their lab.

- I have 30 minutes with them, and as the CHO, my prejudice is to lean towards chemical safety issues. However, talking with the lab tech who took the training a couple of years ago, her impression was that the trainer was fixated on methanol, which she hasn't seen in the lab since she started working. I can understand why methanol is a good teaching example, but for the labs involved here, not so much.

- While some of the research students have taken organic chem, some haven't. Some are freshmen. So trying to leverage that experience is a dicey strategy. (This is one reason I'm a little annoyed that safe practices is not considered part of science at the high school level in the NGSS.)

Based on the feedback I got to this question and discussions with people who will be in the lab with the students, my primary topics will be GHS, chemical waste disposal, correct storage of chemicals, and the different kinds of ventilation devices that one finds in the lab. In the process, I hope that I'll be able to generate questions that help tailor the content to their work.

- Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Keene State College


Jeff Lewin
Departmental Laboratory Supervisor
Biological Sciences
Michigan Technological University

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