simply through new equipment or better technology or better management practices; our people were the solution. If we
made them wrong because they didn't "get it" we would fail. Many of our people (at all levels) had worked in the
industry for years and often decades. There was a very different focus and commitment to safety when they first started
working in the industry. We had to allow time and the opportunity for people to learn and to change their paradigm. For
some this happened very quickly and for others it took more time. The thing that became clear to us was that most of our
accidents were triggered by operator actions or mistakes. If we blamed the operator for the accident we made them the
problem - blaming makes people the problem. Operator actions or mistakes needed to be seen as the starting point; we
needed to inquire into what were we missing that allowed those actions to happen. By learning to focus on what was
missing we started to understand the causes of the accidents. By focusing on what was missing we began to better
understand what was needed. Typically, what was needed was better planning, better risk management, better
communication, more empowering leadership and better co-ordination. What we were not finding was that it was just our
systems, procedures or equipment that was at fault. We discovered areas where we needed better training, better
competency and skills and also cases where we just needed better commitment to our systems and procedures. The
difference from an organizational perspective was significant; instead of people being the problem, people were now the
most important element in the solution."
way, if our workers were not reporting hazards as we needed them to, it was a message for us that we weren't applying effective
leadership practices; as safety leaders we needed to change before they would.
attitudes changed; they became engaged. Tools and work equipment that were worn were repaired or replaced; the results were
visible and people could see that their workplace was becoming safer.
Mary Beth Mulcahy
As Chair of our departmental safety committee, I created a charter that includes the following Mission Statement:
The members of the Safety Committee are dedicated to promoting a culture of safety within the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry. The Committee will accomplish this mission by providing exceptional leadership and partnering with all members of the department to maintain and promote a safe, healthy, and code-compliant environment in which to teach, learn, and conduct research.
Our Goals include:
* Promote safety as everyone's responsibility.. Every employee is an equal partner in a laboratory safety program.
* Encourage compliance with all applicable departmental, institutional, State, and Federal standards and policies.
* Encourage safe work practices to ensure the health and safety of laboratory workers.
* Encourage all employees to contact the committee with their safety concerns. Requests for anonymity will be honored by the committee.
* Minimize risks in the workplace and to reduce injuries, environmental impacts, and compliance issues.
* Remain aware of changes in State and Federal standards that will impact the unit.
* Act as ambassadors of safety, health, and environmental responsibility for all members of the department.
* Foster cooperation and to focus on partnering with the members of the unit.
* Ensure that departmental policies and procedures are accessible and understandable.
* Be prudent stewards of departmental resources and to find innovative solutions to safety challenges.
As the Eberly College Safety Officer, I work with my Chemical Hygiene Officers every day to promote a culture of safety in the research and academic laboratories in the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Forensic and Investigative Science, Geology, Physics, and Psychology.
Contact me if you should have any questions or if I can be of any assistance.
/ Barbara L. Foster
College Safety Officer
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
West Virginia University
DCHAS Fellow - American Chemical Society
From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU] On Behalf Of DCHAS Membership Chair
Sent: Monday, May 28, 2018 11:23 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Best Practices in Building Safety Culture in Research Lab Departments?
As DCHAS members likely know, one of the components of the ACS Safety Strategy is to "Empower Members and Members Communities". The more specific description of this goal is that "ACS should create strategic partnerships and communities across disciplines to empower chemistry practitioners through development of chemical safety skills."
One of the ways that DCHAS is supporting this strategy is by helping to organize the Developing Graduate Student Leadership Skills in Laboratory Safety Workshop being held at national meetings; we are also working on developing similar workshops at regional ACS meetings.
As we have proceeded with this work, we have recognized that there are many different approaches to this strategy, depending on the culture and resources of the institution involved. Our overall goal is develop a resource that can provide people new to this safety culture work with ideas and guidelines for what has worked well elsewhere. For this reason, we are interested in collecting examples of best practices and other success stories related to building safety cultures in research-intensive academic departments. This collection is necessary because the widely varying approaches to this work mean simple Internet searches are likely to miss good examples.
So if you have direct experience with these safety culture building efforts, whether they are student-, staff-, or faculty- led; if they are called safety committees, Joint Safety Teams, safety partnerships, etc.; or whether they operate primarily in a teaching or research setting; or if you know of a resource that you have found particularly valuable in this work, please let me know so that we can be sure that we don't miss important resources that others should be aware of.
Thanks for any help with this.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
American Chemical Society
Division of Chemical Health and Safety
For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional membership chair at membership**At_Symbol_Here**dchas.org Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchas
For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional membership chair at membership**At_Symbol_Here**dchas.org
Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchas
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