Yale has a mature and robust process for reviewing minors who wish to work in our research laboratories, as well as “visiting students in research,” which are undergraduates at other institutions who wish to work in Yale research labs. Our policies are here, as well as activities that are generally prohibited—things we just don’t think a minor should be doing in our labs: http://provost.yale.edu/policies
The process is now integrated into our information system, so PIs apply (and EHS reviews) via that system. The system will automatically assign safety training to the individual (depending on the lab’s hazards), which is required prior to entering the lab. EHS will do one-on-one training to facilitate the start of this research experience. Over time, PI compliance has become very good. This year, Yale has 188 minors working in research labs and 401 visiting students. Most reviews and training come in the spring and early summer, which is a lot of work for us.
One issue you may want to think about is emergency medical care. While we ask if they have such coverage, every minor and visiting student brings different levels of coverage (medical insurance policies differ greatly and our review does not go into this detail). Our Health Center will provide urgent first care (even after hours), but may seek reimbursement. For serious injuries or when a specialist consultation is needed (e.g., eye injury), a bill from our local hospital emergency room would be quite a shock to most of these people. For many foreign students, sorting out medical bills would be quite a burden.
I could go on…We are also concerned about their actual work conditions, that they are truly exposed to the scientific community, and their access to help if they encounter troublesome interactions with other students, staff and their faculty mentor. Of course, the purpose of this opportunity is to promote STEM careers by facilitating a student’s interest in science and research.
Hope this helps,
Peter A. Reinhardt
Director, Office of Environmental Health & Safety
135 College St., Suite 100
New Haven, CT 06510-2411
I would like your policy for high school students coming in and working in your research laboratories. I appreciate your help in this matter.
Laboratory Safety Manager
Office of Research Compliance, Integrity and Safety
Northern Illinois University
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