On November 4, 2021, CHAS sponsored an ACS webinar presented by 4 current and recent graduate students about their work with Laboratory Safety Teams (LSTs) and why they took up this challenge. A key reason is that the productivity of their work and the safety of their labs are connected by housekeeping issues they faced in the lab.
The recording of the webinar will be available to ACS members soon, but you can review their presentation file here.
The audience provided many questions and comments to the panel. The questions were discussed in the recording available from ACS Webinars. Some of these issues were:
The Impact of Lab Housekeeping
- Did you ever see serious accidents because of a lack of housekeeping?
- An audience member responded: A major lab cleanup in the lab where I was finishing up as a graduate student nearly ended in disaster when a waste bottle EXPLODED. Fortunately, no one was present — everyone had left for dinner. Pieces of broken glass were found at the other end of the lab.
Working with the Administration
- Have there been any situations where your PI encouraged you to deprioritize safety/housekeeping concerns because they did not put emphasis on it? How would you encourage a researcher who is facing this but interested in LSTs?
- Have you run into management or leadership that is reluctant to implement changes to safety programs? How did you deal with this when not holding a leadership position?
- How to get students involved in lab safety if PI don’t show interest on the matter?
- I think a Lab safety team of students is great but I also think a Liaison between the research labs and EHS has proven extremely beneficial because while EHS looks at compliance and waste removal but as Chemists we often are resource for them as well.
Professional Skill Development
- I have worked on a safety team and found it initially uncomfortable to give feedback to others in regards to housekeeping and safety. How do we support teams so they feel comfortable/empowered to provide feedback to others in their lab?
- Lab safety is a big priority in industry (as we all know) and experience with lab safety is a GOOD thing to put on your resume. I’m sure comments along these lines helped me get my first industry job.
- Kudos for all the safety culture building!
- Do you think it’s advisable to separate safety leadership in a lab from the responsibilities of a lab manager?
- What are some strategies for encouraging students to join the LST on their own accord? It seems important that this not be mandatory necessarily, but how do you get people excited about putting more time into something when everyone is stretched pretty thin typically?
- What fallout has happened, or not, from the fatal lab accident that occurred at UCLA?
- What hazards do the LST find most frequently?
- What systematic changes have you seen that are sustainable?
- What is the gender breakdown of researchers participating in LSTs? As a safety professional I am sensitive to recognizing the majority role women play in participating in “non-promotable” tasks. If a gender discrepancy exists, how can we address it?”
- Hello, great webinar! This semester I am working with small groups of students from different labs (internship and rotations), and I think working on safety is a great topic to consider as part of the learning process. Any recommendations? greetings from Peru.
If we educate students before they come to the lab , will it benefit of LST?”
During the webinar, we had 4 audience polls to hear about their experiences related to the issues discussed by the panel.
For More Information
- CHAS maintains a LST reference list at https://dchas.org/lst-workshop-resources/
- The next LST workshop will be held on March 20, 2022. You can register for this workshop via Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/empowering-academic-researchers-to-strengthen-safety-culture-workshop-registration-202075863347
- There is a LST discussion slack channel available to join at labsafetyteams.slack.com