Having been similarly frustrated at receiving photocopies of the [M]SDS
stapled to the back of lab reports, I finally had to forbid that in favor
of a summary in their own words up front in each lab report relative to
the principal [3new2] hazards in that day1s work. The only way I could
see to get them to do the risk assessment was to set time aside for that
up front in each lab, since too many would not do it before then. That
means having resources available in or from the lab?much easier these
days. No solution was to be prepared or instrument cranked up until an
acceptable summary was shown to and approved by the instructor. I had to
explicitly forbid the 3I1ll make up the solutions while you look up the
hazards2 team approach, while acknowledging its efficiency.
The most powerful tactic I found was a live session up front with each
lab section, asking 3What [bad] could happen?2 then helping them through
an assessment such that 3nothing2 critical was overlooked. Holding their
toes to the fire like that before they could start the day's work seemed
to actually get them thinking about the possibilities. As we all know,
somehow getting them to realize that 3it CAN happen?to ME2 is much of the
battle. If we can get them there, then you1re working together, no pious
platitudes like you mentioned being necessary.
How one might accomplish such in a university setting with green grad
students as lab instructors is beyond my ken. Worse?as has finally been
recognized and publicized?the real problem behind what you have described
is the faculty.
As many in Ireland say as they hang up the phone: 3God bless!2
Stephen J. Stepenuck, Ph.D.
Emeritus professor of chemistry
Keene State College
Keene NH 03435-2001
>I'm a little frustrated after reviewing yet another teaching lab
>procedure that barely mentions any safety aspects of the work being
>described, but include the equivalent of "of course, everyone who does
>this should read the SDS". Advice this generic feels like a CYA
>disclaimer rather than anything designed to be helpful for the reader.
>While I recognize that a complete documented risk assessment is necessary
>for many lab situations, I wonder if anyone has developed guidance for
>how one can convert "read the SDS" to decisions about how much
>ventilation is needed, personal protective equipment requirements, etc.
>for fairly simple chemistries being offered to beginning chemists?
>Thanks for any thoughts on this.
>Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
>Environmental Safety Manager
>Keene State College
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