So, it sounds like we have an Urban Legend that keeps getting perpetuated because it reinforces the stereotype of the academic who is careless and cares nothing for safety!
I wondered about this statement myself last November and did a little digging. According to a colleague, the quote came from Jim Kaufman, president of the Laboratory Safety Institute in Natick, Mass., but I have not verified this directly with Jim Kaufman.
I recall having come across a similar claim, but from a different source, published in Chemical & Engineering News in 2013:
In the link above, three executives from Dow Chemical, Corning and Dupont claim that "Occupational Safety & Health Administration statistics demonstrate that researchers are 11 times more likely to get hurt in an academic lab than in an industrial lab."
I have tried to verify this claim using Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from 2014 to obtain injury, illness and fatality data specific to the NAICS code 61 for the educational services industry sector. However, this category includes not only institutions of higher learning, but also elementary and secondary schools. The best I could come up with were injury rates per 100 full-time workers based on industry. Chemical manufacturing (NAICS code 325) had 2.3 total cases per 100 full-time workers in 2014. Compare this to educational services, where the rate is 2.1(private), 2.1 (state) and 4.1 (local government). These numbers agree with the findings of the UC Center for Laboratory Safety (which used BLS data from 2011) reported here: http://cen.acs.org/articles/
I've found that the BLS has what seems to be a new tool which can be used to generate a data table based on incident, injury, industry and other characteristics. But even then, it does not seem that the BLS data narrows down statistics specific to academic laboratory activities.
Another data source is a report from the Centers for Disease Control, which has published a summary of "acute chemical incidents" reported by 9 states during the period 1999-2008. According to this report, data was collected that would enable researchers to describe the public health consequences of chemical releases and to develop activities aimed at reducing the harm from such releases. Similar to the BLS statistics, the data was categorized according to NAICS industry classifications. The results show that the number of injured persons in the educational services category is comparable with the number in chemical manufacturing, which seems to corroborate the BLS statistics. The citation for that report is:
CDC Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, MMWR Surveillance Summaries / Vol. 64 / No. 2 April 10, 2015 / No. SS=E2=80"2: Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance, Nine States, 1999-2008.
It is conceivable that there is underreporting, but the statistics from the above sources do not support the claims made in the statements.
I hope this helps you with your report.
Edward Chainani, Ph.D.
Materials Research Laboratory and College of Engineering
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
369 MRL, MC-230
104 S. Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
On Aug 9, 2016, at 7:08 PM, Melissa Charlton-Smith <melissafcsmith**At_Symbol_Here**GMAIL.COM> wrote:
ok I have been trying to find the original source for the following statement:
"...Occupational Safety & Health Administration statistics demonstrate that researchers are 11 times more likely to get hurt in an academic lab than in an industrial lab."
I have seen this statement referenced many times in articles. In fact in one of the articles I read it was said to be quote from an interview. Sometimes it is referenced, and then when I track down the reference, it just refers to another article that uses the exact same wording, without a reference. No matter who said it first...where is the research? Where are the statistics? Where is the report? What journal do I find it in?
Thanks everybody, just trying to track down the paper, or the OSHA stats or what have you. I want to USE that information in a report I am working on, but I want a real reference to go by.
Previous post | Top of Page | Next post