C&EN readers may have noticed that the January 1 cover story was written by the incoming ACS president Peter Dorhout. It is available at
Dr. Dorhout took this opportunity to express his interest in further developing the ACS's safety education and training mission. Early next month, several people from DCHAS will be attending an ACS "safety summit" to brainstorm opportunities in this regard with other ACS stakeholders and external partners. I would encourage everyone on the list to read Dr. Dorhout's whole editorial (the safety portion is excerpted below) and provide feedback to the list or, alternatively to Dr. Dorhout.
Because ACS's core values tie together safety and ethics, one thing I am particularly interested in is feedback on the statements relative to safety in the ACS guidance documents on ethics. These are found at
Professional Employment Guidelines
Academic Professional Guidelines
The Chemical Professional‰??s Code of Conduct
my question is as our understanding of "safety culture" rapidly evolve, do these statements need to change as well?
Thanks for any feedback on this topic.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
American Chemical Society
Division of Chemical Health and Safety
American Chemical Society
Committee on Chemical Safety
Safety: A crucial skill for chemists
An essential element of chemical education and training is safety. In the coming year, I want to continue to build on the momentum that Immediate Past-President Allison A. Campbell and our members have created on this vital issue.
Safety shouldn‰??t just be a box that gets checked when preparing for an experiment or starting a new class. It needs to be a continuous thought process that people in the lab and their leaders always consider. We‰??re making progress on this front, but we must work together to change the ethos of our students and practitioners.
ACS has a committee and a division dedicated to chemical health and safety, and we have subject matter experts who have created a tremendous amount of content. Another powerful ally in this effort is our Committee on Professional Training. Members of Corporation Associates have joined forces with our committees and divisions to take the lead in creating an online safety training program that we hope to launch in 2018.
For those in academia, it‰??s important to realize that when teaching lab skills, conveying the culture and philosophy of safety to students is just as important as showing them how to manipulate gases in a Schlenk line or run an NMR spectrometer. We need to model the behavior that we want students to adopt.
Further, we need to follow the industry standard in academic labs. Everyone graduating from a college or university should understand the industry safety expectations. That means having a depth of knowledge about processes in the laboratory so that people can complete them in a safe way that protects them and their colleagues. It also means managing waste in a safe and environmentally thoughtful manner and understanding waste management policies relevant to each project.
Industry is interested in being partners in helping make this safety culture happen. We need to respect what our colleagues in industry are confronted with and know their expectations for a newly minted degree holder so we can help prepare new graduates to be even more marketable and competitive for jobs.
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