Our Safety Committee agreed a while ago (2012) on the following policy which is similar to many that have been stated previously: The first time a TA needs to confront a student with a water bottle, it should be done in a friendly tone, where the TA says something to the point such as, "no water bottles in the lab, please", and the student is told to place the water bottle on a table in the hallway. Once the student places the water bottle in the hall, the TA can briefly tell the student that they are free to go out in the hall if they need a break. Often the students will say that since they are done with their experiment, they should be free to drink water. The TA should point out that water bottles are not allowed in the lab, and that while they are done, there are still others working. If they are waiting on friends, they are free to go out in the hall. If the student is caught a second time with a water bottle, then the student is told to leave the lab, receives no credit for the lab, and the lab coordinator is called.
Students are well-trained at the beginning of every quarter to leave water, coffee, sports bottles, lunches, outside of lab. At the beginning of the quarter, TA's are vigilant about standing at the door as a reminder and the point gets across pretty quickly. There's always a small cache of water bottles, etc. outside the lab room. That seems to help as a visual reminder, too. Doors remain closed during lab.
Good luck - it's a tough habit to break.
Debbie M. Decker, CCHO, ACS Fellow
Immediate Past Chair, Division of Chemical Health and Safety
University of California, Davis
Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions,
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."
We are seeing a problem with students walking into the lab holding their water bottles and it is not practical for the instructor to stand at the door as they arrive because our labs run one right after the other and we rarely close the door. At the beginning of the term during the safety presentation they are told to put them away before entering the lab but they either forget or ignore it. We already have so many signs in our labs, hallways, etc that no one pays any attention to them so I'm reluctant to add another one. Could you share what you do at your institution?
Chemistry Lab Manager
Anne Arundel Community College
101 College Parkway
Arnold, MD 21012
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