Category Archives: Technical presentations

Webinar Questions: General Lab Safety

There were 9 general lab safety topics raised by the audience.

These answers are Ralph Stuart’s; feel free to share your thoughts and follow up questions in the comments section below. (Note: the comments section is moderated, so there may be some time delay before your question shows up.)

Can you talk more about the safety & health issues in the laboratory? Specifically, what are the general policies for the hazards of broken glassware and dealing with students cut by broken glassware?

General laboratory safety issues, as well as glassware specifically are well covered by the ACS publication Safety in the Academic Laboratory. A reminder: Remember to check with the host institution for its protocols related to providing first aid before lab work starts, as glass cuts are one of the most common laboratory injuries.

How do I access or subscribe to the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety?

The Journal of Chemical Health and Safety (this link will take you to the Journal’s web site) is a member benefit of the Division of Chemical Health and Safety and is also available in many academic libraries. 

I am most concerned about the Risks (vs Hazard) within chemical reactions.

This is an important point. The risks associated with a chemical reaction are often not clear from a review of the Safety Data Sheets for individual chemicals, so further safety analysis of the process as a whole is necessary. This issue was identified by the Chemical Safety Board’s 2011 report and the ACS is working hard to support this process with the technical resources outlined in the webinar.

Two related questions:

  • Another thought is treating students like workers and getting them OSHA protection – never saw this in my time in academia, but in industry, I got a benign chemical splash between glove and coat and the reporting on that went on for 12 months and involved a lot of discussion and meetings around chemical practices
  • In 2003, U. Iowa Dept. Chemistry had an explosion from one of the grad students running a solvent still, where he was burned (3rd degree) and hospitalized.  There was a lot of controversy afterwards, because the university did not intend to cover medical bills, stating that student insurance did not cover graduate teaching assistants that were involved in lab research (only graduate research assistants were covered).  Eventually the student union became involved and this was resolved.  However, does this continue to be an issue in academia?  With respect to hazards for graduate/undergraduate research, has there been any legislation to cover students injured in an accident by workers comp/disability?

The academic laboratory is an interesting challenge in this respect. Traditionally, higher education has been what the former head of OSHA, among others, has referred to as a “fissured workplace”. This phrase describes workplaces in which employees and students work together under a wide variety of institutional relationships (e.g. full time employees, visiting scholars, tuition-paying students, volunteers, etc.). This situation presents an interesting challenge to developing and sustaining an active laboratory safety culture because the legal requirements applicable to each group will vary depending on their status and the legal jurisdiction that applies.

Do you follow OSHA 1910. 1450 requirements?

This question refers to the OSHA Lab Standard found here. This question is answered on an institution-by-institution basis. We have a Chemical Hygiene Plan at Keene State and the University of Cincinnati.

How do you apply process safety management principles in the research lab environment?

This issue is well explored by a 2009 article in the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety by Neal Langerman entitled Lab-scale process safety management. Dr. Langerman expanded on this article in a 2015 JCHAS column entitled Expand Process Safety Management

Can you explain Control Banding, and how effective it is?

Control banding is an area of active research in laboratory safety profession. The concept is to address control of laboratory hazards for a group of chemicals, rather than a process-by-process basis, in a more general way than allowed by tools such as a Job Hazard Analysis. However, control banding is complicated by the variety of physical and health hazards associated with chemical processes used in the research setting. To be effective and sustainable, an ANSI Z10 style Management System should be developed to support the control banding process.

Can we design our safety assessment checklist or we have to follow yours?

It is best practice for checklists to be as specific as possible to the laboratories that use them. General guidance for the best use of checklists can be found on the ACS hazard assessment web site here.

Any feedback from educators and researchers about the ACS Hazard Assessment webpage and tools?

The tool is still new to the world (it was released on the web in 2016), so Kendra’s case study of its use is one of the earliest we in ACS have found. We are very interested in other feedback on the tool; e-mail to provide your comments.


Q&A on Hazard Assessments webinar

On May 11, 2017, Ralph Stuart and Dr. Kendra Leahy Denlinger presented an ACS webinar on Creating a 21st Century Chemical Research Laboratory: Hazard Assessments and Fundamentals. This webinar was co-sponsored by the DCHAS and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute.  Their slides can be downloaded from the ACS Webinar web site. The primary topic of discussion was the JHA section of the ACS Hazard Assessment web site, but other topics, including ball-milling as an alternative to solvent-based chemistry, Green Chemistry metrics and ACS lab safety resources were covered.

Because of time limits, some of the 50+ questions asked by the audience were not answered, so our response to some of the most common questions are provided here. The questions are organized into 5 categories:

  1. General Lab Safety Issues
  2. Laboratory Safety Culture Questions
  3. Risk and Green Chemistry Rating Methods
  4. Green Chemistry Techniques

Click on the links above to see our responses to the audience’s questions. If you have follow-up questions, feel free to contact Ralph or Kendra by e-mail.

Webinar Questions: Laboratory Safety Culture Questions

There were four related questions and comments relative to Lab Safety Culture. 

  • Who is responsible for chemical safety in the lab? (Everyone is a fine answer, but also a dodge). I feel it starts with the supervisor/mentor and I dislike the way accident blame tends to get pushed towards the victim.
  • University chemistry depts operate funded largely by NIH/NSF/DOE grants. In awarding these grants, there are requirements to follow bio-safety, radiation safety animal welfare, student mentoring guidelines. But chemical safety is left to the local university and fire marshals to regulate. BUT there could be chemical safety requirements IF they could be clearly codified and agreed to. The enforcement comes from losing grant support BUT the key is they have to be clearly defined for what are wide ranging activities and there has to be reporting back to the granting agencies.
  • It would be good to note that Prudent Practices and Safe Science from the National Academies came out of the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology. They also have a publication on producing Laboratory SOPs. All of them are available for free through the National Academies Press.
  • From my understanding, PIs are primarily responsible for ensuring that researchers who participate in their laboratories receive proper safety training prior to participating in the lab. This coincides with the outcome to the incident that occurred in California when a researcher died due to lack of training.

These comments and questions point to an interesting challenge – the decentralized, entrepreneurial nature of lab work within a larger organization.This issue is the focus of many of the safety culture resources I identified during the webinar, in particular Safe Science from the National Academies Press.  The ACS Hazard Assessment web site outlines the roles and responsibilities related to lab safety here. It is clear from the literature that chemical safety requires both leadership from lab management and empowerment of individual lab workers to be effective and sustainable over time.

What role can lab informatics and Electronic Lab Notebooks play in creating the culture of safety?

This is a very active area of research collaboration between the DCHAS and the ACS Division of Chemical Information. We are using the RAMP paradigm to identify resources and gaps in the electronic lab safety resources available to the laboratory chemist. It is important to note that education for chemists in both laboratory safety and chemical information skills is an important part of a scientific education, both in terms of the sciences of information management and risk management and in practice of these skills while chemistry lab work is being practiced.

These answers are Ralph Stuart’s; feel free to share your thoughts and follow up questions in the comments section below. (Note: this section is moderated, so there may be some time delay before your question shows up.)


After the Settlement: Today’s Chemical Safety Programs in the UCal System

What Have We Learned & Where Are We Going: Post-Settlement in the University of California

Organizers: D. Decker, J. Palmer

Moving from compliance to safety in UC laboratories. C.A. Merlic

2700 Miles and a big step forward: The UC settlement and Princeton University.

Beyond compliance: Building safety culture at UCLA. C. Dimock, S. Hsieh

Moving on after the settlement – the approach of a small University of California campus. K. Smith

Continuous improvement opportunities in the UC system post-settlement agreement. C.A. Jakober, D.M. Decker

Establishing a student-enforced safety culture in academic research labs. K.A. Miller

Successfully implementing a positive safety culture in an R1 research laboratory as a graduate safety of cer. B. Armstrong, A.K. Franz

Heavy lifting of compliance: A graduate student perspective. A. Manlove, B. Anderson, N. Nunez

Continuing to promote careful chemistry in the post-settlement era. J.G. Palmer, L.S. Wong

Information Flow in Environmental Health & Safety

Information Flow in Environmental Health & Safety

At the Spring, 2017 ACS national meeting, the Divisions of Chemical Information and Chemical Health and Safety co-sponsored a program on Information Flow in Environmental Health and Safety. The symposia presented a variety of use cases for chemical information tools that range from lab-specific to very general. Links to the PDF versions of the presentations are provided below.

A System, Not a Solution, R. Stuart

Chemical info needed to establish lab vent Control Bands, E. Sweet

Reaction Incident Information, C. Nitsche

Chemical Management Applications for the University of California, P. Painter

Safety Terminology, L. McEwen

Consult the SDS!, S. Sigmann

Grad Student Perspective on the ACS Risk Assessment Tool, K. Delinger

Explorit Everywhere for ACS Chem Safety, A. Lederman

EPA CompTox chemistry dashboard resource, A. Williams

Safety Training Content

Best Practices in Selecting & Presenting Safety Training Content

Technical presentations from the March, 2017 national American Chemical Safety meeting.

Connecting safety culture to academic mission,
R. Stuart

Preliminary Results of Survey,
E. Sweet

Flipped Classroom Techniques in Lab Safety Training
R. Izzo

Safety Culture & Training
M. Wilhelm

Relevant content positive attitude memorable presentation,
K. Fivizzani

5 Key Safety Questions for Chemical Demonstrations

At the Spring, 2017 ACS national meeting, CHAS members Ralph Stuart and Sammye Sigmann made presentations in the Division of Chemical Education technical program on topics related to undergraduate research safety. Sammye’s  presentation was entitled:
Integrating Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment into Course-based Undergraduate Research (CURE)

Ralph’s (which Sammye co-authored) was entitled:
Providing laboratory safety education to REU audiences.

In addition, they co-authored a poster for Sci Mix. An overview of the poster and a link to it are provided below.
In 2016, the ACS Division of Chemical Education (CHED) updated their “Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations”. The Guidelines are available at the CHED web site. Look at DCHAS web site to see how these guidelines align with the “5 Key Questions”.

This poster provides a quick overview of the five key safety questions that anyone planning chemical demonstrations or experiments should ask and answer prior to work. It is also important to be aware that local jurisdictions may require more extensive planning for some demonstrations and so for everyone’s safety – check with the local Fire Department for help with planning your demonstration.

The Five Key Questions are:

  1. What specific chemical or physical reactivity hazards are associated with the way I’m using these chemicals?
  2. What type of ventilation do I need?
  3. What personal protective equipment do I need?
  4. What emergency response protocols will be needed if something goes wrong?
  5. What will I do with the waste?

Sigmann, S.; Stuart, R.

Assessing Risk: Five Key Questions for Safe Research and Demos. inChemistry Magazine, 2016, September/October, 6-9.

Five Chem Safety Questions poster


An exposure assessment of desktop 3D printing

The Editor’s Spotlight for the March / April 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety is shining on:

An exposure assessment of desktop 3D printing by Tracy L. Zontek, Burton R. Ogle, John T. Jankovic, and Scott M. Hollenbeck

A preliminary hazard analysis of 3D printing included process monitoring in two working environments; a small well ventilated materials development laboratory with a Makerbot printer (polylactic acid filament) and a poorly ventilated lab, home-like in terms of room size and ventilation with a Da Vinci XYZ printer (acrylonitrile- butadiene-styrene).

Particle number, size and mass concentration were measured within the printer enclosures, breathing zone, and room simultaneously. Number concentrations were elevated above background typically in the 103 – 105 particles/cm3 range. During printing >99% of the aerosol number concentration was within the ultrafine particulate (UFP) and nanoscale size range. Condensed aerosol emissions from the Da Vinci XYZ printer was examined by Fourier infra-red spectroscopy and suggested isocyanic acid and n-decane as two possible chemical components. Light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy with energy dispersive analysis by X-ray identified individual and aggregated particles highly suggestive of combustion, accompanied by a variety of metallic elements.

Adverse health effects associated with 3D printing related to chemical vapor off-gassing in well ventilated space appears to be low. At this point the significance of ultrafine particle emission is under growing suspicion in its relationship to inflammatory, pulmonary, and cardiovascular effects. Preliminary recommendations for particulate control developed from this analysis are based on good industrial hygiene practice rather than compelling adverse health effects.

You can download the complete article here. An exposure assessment of desktop 3D printing

EPA Symposium on new RCRA Generator Requirements

On January 31 in Boston, EPA headquarters staff gave a 6 hour presentation on the new RCRA generator requirements promulgated last November with specific emphasis on how these changes might impact laboratory waste generators. The staff acknowledged that there were specific issues raised by these changes that might have different impacts on laboratory settings compared to other generators. For example, their presentation indicates that the average RCRA hazardous waste generator has between 1 and 5 waste streams that they typically generate.

Attendees at this meeting were from around the country and had many questions about how these rule changes would be applied in the laboratory setting. The answers to many of these questions will depend on how specific states choose to implement and enforce these changes.

A pdf version of the powerpoint file (169 slides) for this presentation can be downloaded here. The symposium was recorded; contact Ralph Stuart at for more information about accessing this information.