From: "Wright, Mike" <mwright**At_Symbol_Here**USW.ORG>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Source of the OSHA statement
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2016 17:18:34 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: 673A00C44C25834BA3198AADFC1EB7AE36239477**At_Symbol_Here**PIT-MAIL01.uswa-us.local

Thanks, Pete. Just to clarify further, all private colleges and universities are covered, either by federal OSHA in federal-OSHA states, or by the state in states with OSHA-approved state plans. It's a little more complicated for state, county or local institutions. In states with federal-OSHA jurisdiction, without a state plan covering public employees, it comes down to whether the faculty and staff are considered government employees. In my town of Pittsburgh, for example, the Community College of Allegheny County is not covered because its people are county employees. However, the University of Pittsburgh is covered, even though it gets much of its funding from the state, because its people are employed by the university, not by any government.


To complicate things, one local university tried to argue that because it was a religious institution, it was exempt from all labor laws, including OSHA. Nice try, but wrong.





Michael J. Wright

Director of Health, Safety and Environment

United Steelworkers


412-562-2580 office

412-370-0105 cell


See us on the web at


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Reinhardt, Peter
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2016 10:34 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Source of the OSHA statement




Yes, it is hard not to comment on this excellent discussion.


Mike - I know you know this, but to clarify your statement-federal OSHA neither has regulations, nor jurisdiction, over State, municipal, or volunteer fire departments, except in approved OSHA state plan states (e.g., California) and states that have passed their own OSHA laws for the public sector. This means that state and public sector workers are not covered by the OSHA act or an OSHA approved state plan in 25 states, 3 territories and the District of Columbia. So OSHA does not apply to colleges and universities in Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc., although some state employee safety laws may apply.


Some other points: I respect the opinions of the referenced safety experts who believe that, in general, academic labs are less safe than industrial labs, but to quote a figure like "11 times" or "10-50" implies that there is reliable data to support that opinion-and there are none. It is irresponsible to state this as anything more than an opinion.


Like all generalizations, this one wrongly gives a pass to those non-existent safety programs I've seen in many commercial research labs and paints the many excellent academic safety programs as inferior. The U.S. higher education system is the envy of the world, partly because each professor has tremendous autonomy. And because of this autonomy, safety culture and performance vary from lab to lab within a university-which is another reason why this "statement" is misleading and diverts our attention from making ALL labs safer.


This urban myth has been discussed on this listserve previously. We need to memorialize this discussion so we don=E2=80™t keep repeating the same malarkey (just like we keep repeating the same accidents).




Peter A. Reinhardt

Director, Office of Environmental Health & Safety

Yale University

135 College St., Suite 100

New Haven, CT   06510-2411

(203) 737-2123



p.s., Don't miss the great article in Chemical and Engineering News on the safety of tattoo inks. ("Hey, let's put an unknown chemical into our skin so we are exposed to it for the rest of our lives!")


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Wright, Mike
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 12:33 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Source of the OSHA statement


I hadn't planned to weigh in on this, but it's hard to resist. We represent people who work in industrial labs, and those who work in university labs, so I and my colleagues have seen both, and I've personally consulted some with teachers unions with respect to high school labs. I don't claim this is any sort of representative sample, or that it's at all comprehensive. Nor can I cite statistics, primarily because they mostly don't exist, and where they do, we don't trust them. I absolutely agree with Ray Cook's comments - except that I wouldn't limit them to industrial settings. There's just as much incentive to underreport in academe.


So take this for what it's worth. But in our experience, industrial labs are way ahead of academic labs when it comes to effective safety programs, including hazard identification, risk assessment, incident investigation, personal protective equipment, and especially training. In addition, since most industrial employers know that OSHA covers them, they know that the OSHA lab standard exists, and that they can get fined for non-compliance. A lot of academic labs don't think that OSHA applies to them, which is wrong, as the UC Regents found out.


However, the statement that "OSHA statistics" show that academic labs have 11 times the injury rate of academic labs is, to use an academic phrase, "unsupported by any evidence." (The equivalent industrial phrase would be shorter and less polite.) And it's one of those statements where, when you try to track it down, you find that everybody is citing each other in a big circle. There's an impolite phrase for that too, but I won't use it.  


Mike Wright




Michael J. Wright

Director of Health, Safety and Environment

United Steelworkers


412-562-2580 office

412-370-0105 cell


See us on the web at


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Ray Cook
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 10:17 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Source of the OSHA statement


Bear in mind too, in an industrial environment there is often an unfortunate built in incentive to not report incidents if it can be avoided. Mgmt pushing for no incidents, repercussions by misguided managers, etc.  


This leads to underreporting of incidents in all industries, & unfortunately skips the best opportunities to fix problems prior to serious consequences.



Ray Cook, CIH, CSP


**At_Symbol_Here**apexhse (Twitter)

I Cor 1:18

Sent from my iPhone


On Aug 10, 2016, at 9:00 AM, Benjamin G Owens <bowens**At_Symbol_Here**UNR.EDU> wrote:



As others have indicated I believe that Jim Kaufman may be the source of the statement in one form or another. 


In the Fourth Edition (1995) of the CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety (page 218), edited by Keith Furr, the statement, "-it has been estimated that the accident rate is 10 to 50 times higher (my note: in reference to academic labs) than that in industrial laboratories."  In 2003 I asked Jim Kaufman if he knew the origin of this statistic and he indicated that Keith Furr was probably referring to a statement that he (Kaufman) had made.  Jim stated that he had looked at various sources of information over the years but that the accident rate in academic labs continued to be about 10 - 100 times greater than that of industrial labs.  He stated that the statement is an estimate and that it is not based on a single data set.


Ben Owens

University of Nevada, Reno


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Melissa Charlton-Smith
Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2016 5:08 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Source of the OSHA statement


Hi everybody, 


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.


Mel Charlton-Smith



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