Category Archives: Reference material

Submit an Abstract to the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference

The ACS Green Chemistry Institute invites you to submit an abstract to the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Held virtually on June 14-18, 2021, the Conference will feature 5 days of programming, over 30 oral and poster sessions with Q&A, and many opportunities to for online networking. Take a moment to browse the symposia and submit an abstract before February 15, 2021.
https://www.gcande.org/program/?cid=sc_gci_partner_1_4_21

Note particularly the presentation opportunity in the symposium I am co-organizing. Last year, the green chemistry and safety symposium was most of best attended of the GCI conference.

CONNECTING GREEN CHEMISTRY AND CHEMICAL SAFETY IN THE CHEMISTRY CURRICULUM AND BEYOND

Organizers: Ralph Stuart, Keene State College and ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety; Kendra Denlinger, Xavier

Both green chemistry and chemical safety have direct connections to the ACS’s core value of “professionalism, safety and ethics”. The symposium will explore how these connections can be engaged in academic coursework, in the research laboratory, and in industrial and engineering settings. Papers that define, compare, and contrast the practices of green chemistry and green engineering with chemical safety and then connect these to their social context and goals within the chemistry and engineering enterprise are welcome.

No travel required!

Let me know if you have any questions about this.

– Ralph

Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Membership Chair
American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Health and Safety
membership@dchas.org

Spring 2021 National Meeting Call for Papers

The CHAS Call for Abstracts for the 2021 Spring Virtual ACS National Meeting is now available at https://callforabstracts.acs.org/acsspring2021/CHAS

Note that the submission calendar is quite tight due to the pandemic’s impact on planning the meeting. The deadlines for submission is January 19. But the good news is that you can share your work more conveniently since travel will not be required.

CHAS symposia open for paper submissions include:

  • Chemical Safety Film Festival
  • Designing safety into an undergraduate laboratory curriculum, beyond safety rules
  • Safety Across the Scientific Disciplines: Where are the successes, and what needs improvements
  • Systems thinking in Chemical Health and Safety

CANN symposia include

  • Cannabis apart from Cannabinoids
  • Cannabis Derived Treatments for Specific Medical Condtions:
  • Women in Cannabis: Shaping an Emerging Industry

More details about these sessions can be found on the ACS web site

ACS CHAS Workshop: Empowering academic researchers to strengthen safety culture

This 4-hour workshop is primarily directed at researchers in academic institutions that may include graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and undergraduate students. Faculty and safety staff are also very much encouraged to participate.

Workshop goals are to:

  • Educate participants about the value of risk assessment
  • Guide participants towards gaining awareness of safety culture messages from the leadership at their institutions
  • Empower participants to expand their safety networks and develop laboratory safety teams.

The next workshop is scheduled for Sunday, February 7, 2 PM to 6 PM Eastern Time. The workshop is $25 per participant. To register for this workshop date, please follow this link to our Eventbrite registration page. If you have any questions about the workshop, please email lstworkshop@dchas.org. 

For more information:

For a list of technical resources related to LSTs, visit this page.

For information about the history of the workshop, visit this page.

Who pays when a graduate student gets hurt? : Safety Journal Club Discussion, December 1, 2020

Led by:
Ralph Stuart, Keene State College

The discussion format on December 1 was to read snd comment on an abridged version of the C&EN article “Who pays when a graduate student gets hurt?” found at https://cen.acs.org/safety/lab-safety/pays-graduate-student-hurt/98/i42

The group comments and discussions were then organized around 5 questions:

  1. Who are the stakeholders in this story (either at BU specifically, or more generally)?
  2. What do you think are the 3 most important take away messages from this article?
  3. What other aspects of the grad student experience does their legal status as employees impact? 
  4. What opportunities are there for addressing the confusion these questions raise?
  5. How does this confusion impact the safety culture of 1) specific institutions and 2) higher education in general?

Who Pays? Discussion summary

1. Who are the stakeholders in this story (either at BU specifically, or more generally)?

  • As a current graduate student, I would assume that I was working in the capacity of an employee of the institution here.
  • I’ve always assumed that graduate students are employees of the institution. Their checks have the university’s name emblazoned on it. I have come across situations, as described in the article, while as department chair where graduate students were treated as students when convenient and as employees when convenient. “When convenient” seems to be the operant term.
  • The grad students are the people with the most potential for contact with the hazards bc they are frequently the hands doing the actual work.  Can it be that they have the least safety net?  Plus they are in a poor position to fight back bc they need to recoup the time and money invested in their degree so suing the institution isn’t a go to option.
  • This advisor person does not seem to be involved after the initial response. Isn’t there a duty that the advisor / responsible PI advocate for the student throughout the bureaucratic mess that ensued? Perhaps the institution’s response would’ve been more robust if a faculty member had been more actively involved with seeking a remedy.
  • In my experience, who the stakeholders are varies by institution and even within institutions. Higher education has a complex financial structure that confuses many discussions about money.
  • Is there a difference between how public/private institutions should/could react?
  • Are there conflicting stakeholders? The graduate student, the PI, the institution (here BU), risk management, workman’s comp, the state, all have different agendas.
  • As the article indicates, it’s not a question EHS folks can usually answer accurately and often nor could Risk Mgmt. The unit’s business pro was best suited and able to do so.
  • This reflects the broken USA healthcare system. Thus, the needed fix is political. In the interim, anyone, including a student of any level, should assure health insurance. Under 25 qualifies for parent’s program, if any. Most students, including graduate students and post-docs, will qualify under the ACA for coverage assistance. Worst case is to purchase private medical insurance, often out of the price range for students.
  • Compensability determinations are currently made by our Worker’s Comp group.  If there are complexities in the decision there is confusion about where to go and who to talk to.  The Business Manager in the home department is a good source of information.
    • Seconded. There is a lot of confusion in the air that needs to be clarified case by case
    • My experience is that there is a lot of variation in the expertise of departmental business managers. In addition, the departmental clerical staff at our institution has been cut in half over the last year due to covid impacts.

2. What do you think are the 3 most important take away messages from this article?

  • I wonder if because of the assumption that paycheck = employee, most graduate students assume they are covered by workman’s comp and don’t even bother to ask. This is an important take away. Students should ask when they come in how the university really views them and what their legal position it.
  • WC has been very beneficial to employees. They are covered by law. The issue is the unclear status of a graduate student whose “employment” is linked to their education. Again, that is a question for legislation to resolve. Each of us must have medical protection while waiting for this to happen.
    • While I can appreciate that this question has a long history, it IS news to current graduate students.
  • Shouldn’t financial responsibility for medical care be part of Planning For Emergencies done by institutions?
    • Emergency planning and workers compensation policies do tie together.
    • Planning for Emergencies in labs is often as confusing as WC due to local resources (campus and municipal), diverse types of hazards needed to prepare for, and local politics.

3. What other aspects of the grad student experience does their legal status as employees impact?

  • Expectations and compensation for working hours
  • Access to personal protective equipment
  • Termination process concerns
  • When I was a grad student I was told by our student government to only say “hurt at school” so that my personal insurance would not reject a claim
  • A lot of places do try to list post-docs as students. I don’t think that is clear cut everywhere either.

4. What opportunities are there for addressing the confusion these questions raise?

  • I wonder if the National Labor Relations Board should /could get involved in mediating this nationally, or do these laws need to reside, legally, at the state level?
  • One idea is to develop a FAQ list that grad students should ask about safety before accepting a fellowship offer would be helpful to the grad student in evaluating the offer and the PI in framing the offer as desirable. This could be a national resource
  • Given how much Workers Comp varies by state, I am deeply skeptical of a successful unified approach to rectifying it across the U.S.  I think a state by state approach is much more likely to be effective (though inefficient perhaps).  So, then perhaps a college by college approach to encourage (require?) a unified set of best practices to be implemented locally might lend itself to the missing broad scale aspect.
  • Some institutions require that PI’s provide health insurance for graduate students and postdocs. Conversely, some universities do not require mandatory health insurance. There are no unified policies. At my university, we require that PI’s or the institution to provide health care for our graduate students doing research.
  • UC Davis has its own Fire Dept with EMTs making at least initial treatment quick, easy, and at no cost to students.
    • Related to ambulance costs and American healthcare, one of the concerns that has been raised is the cost for undergrads that call an ambulance for medical emergencies (lab or non-lab). If the university’s ambulance service responds it’s free, but if they are unavailable an outside service responds. This can lead to bills (after insurance) of >$1,000. This creates a disincentive to calling for medical help when needed.
    • This is an important point. I stress in lab safety training I do that the institution expects the lab worker to call 911 in case of emergency. For some people, this call is a significant financial risk
    • This is one of the reasons why graduate students will often drive other grad students to the hospital. They just saved >$1,000
  • What is the incentive to NOT consider graduate students to be employees?

5. How does this confusion impact the safety culture of 1) specific institutions and 2) higher education in general?

  • This unfortunate outcome (in addition to a GSR not having medical bills paid) was that they wouldn’t go for any treatment for fear of the costs. We saw this occur frequently (and quite sadly).
  • If one cannot feel that an accident can be recovered from financially, I imagine it would inhibit more dangerous lines of research. It may also inhibit students from feeling that the institution actually cares about their safety and well-being.
  • What kind of work performed by students does the ruling pertain to?  Could laws be strengthened if WC-type coverage is extended to students who do certain types of hazardous work, such as laboratory research?
  • It’s sad that it takes a meeting with an attorney before the institution decided to pay. Although this article is only one perspective, it seems there was a genuine lack of caring behind the initial inaction. Although the administration seemed to say some of the right things, what they didn’t do was cover the student’s bills first and figure out how those bills might be accounted for later.
  • How can there we build a constructive safety culture when people on the front lines of the work are having experiences that leave them distrustful of the institutions?

Discussion of Emergency Response issues

  • TFA does not pose the risk of systemic toxicity that HF does. Here is one study demonstrating this difference and pointing out that PEG 400 is recommended as a topical treatment on some SDS’s, https://drive.google.com/file/d/16QsUsw3MoYcnIhm9akXF4piUUajNOCue/view?usp=sharing
  • We had an HF Committee (including our Occ Doc and Occ Nurse).  We required grab ‘n go kits with instructions for the Emergency Dept to follow.  They could/should just call Poison Control at 800-222-1222 – purposefully easy to remember! 🙂
  • One piece of helpful advice for people who work with exotic chemicals is to bring the SDS to the Emergency Room with you so that the ER staff will know exactly which chemical was involved. The treatment for HF is very different from the treatment of HCl, but their names sound similar in conversation
    • Is this why there is insistence that SDSs be printed out rather than relying on accessing them through a computer? We are allowed to embrace the latter, but then we wouldn’t have an easily accessible SDS to bring to the ER.
    • From Haim Weizman (he/him) : We made a video that shows TFA damage.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6DrCdjedas&ab_channel=ChemUCSD

2021 CHAS Chat Topics Survey Results

52 CHAS members responder to our survey of interest in potential 2021 CHAS chat topics. The average response for each potential topic are in the table below, with “10” being most interested and “1” least interested.

Potential 2021 CHAS chat topics

TopicInterest level (1-10)
Best sources of safety information for chemicals7.63
Hazard Assessment in the research lab7.58
Specific examples of RAMP in action7.35
Online resources for learning safe chemistry techniques7.21
Best practices for at-the-bench training6.88
Teaching chemical safety and risk assessment in virtual labs6.75
Chemical Safety for Biologists6.73
Fire codes and flammable/reactive limits6.60
Planning for and Recovering from Emergencies6.54
Overview of new ACS chemical safety education resources6.50
Working alone policies and practices6.50
Safety in Nanotechnology6.15
Safe Reaction scale up considerations6.12
The role and impact of covid masks (in public and in the lab)6.10
Safety in community outreach6.09
Strengths and limitations of PubChem LCSS5.98
EH&S as a career option5.94
Uses of ACS Style Guide chapter5.79
Safety in the performing arts5.42
Service Animals in the Lab4.94
Process Safety in the Pharmaceutical Industry4.82
High School Safety related resources4.60

Webinar: Lessons learned from Beirut and Ammonium Nitrate

CAS will be hosting a webinar on Friday, December 4th at 11:30 EDT.

The Expert View – Lessons learned from Beirut and Ammonium Nitrate:

Register here: https://www.cas.org/science-connect/ammonium-nitrate

Even if you don’t work with industrial levels of ammonium nitrate on a daily basis, the safe handling of this chemical could have implications in your local community. With the recent tragedies in Beirut, are there lessons learned that can help minimize the safety risks?

Join us for an in-depth panel discussion with experts who bring diverse ideas from the commercial, academic, and safety viewpoints from a deeper study into the formulation options, the innovation landscape, and key safety guidelines.

Panelists:

  • Dr. Jimmie Carol Oxley, professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island
  • Dr. Vyto Brabauskas, President of Fire Science and Technology
  • Kimberly Brown, Sr. Lab Safety Specialist and Chemical Hygiene Officer, University of Pennsylvania

Date: December, 4th 2020
11:30am – 12:30pm ET – Register to join live or access the recording at a later date: https://www.cas.org/science-connect/ammonium-nitrate

What is a Culture of Safety and Can It Be Changed? : Safety Journal Club Discussion, Nov 17, 2020

Led by:
Dominick Casadonte, Texas Tech University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

You can download Dr. Casadonte’s powerpoint file here.

[office_doc id=5125]

Resources discussed in the talk:

CONVERSATION HIGHLIGHTS

When an accident like this (2010 Texas Tech) happens, it is a system failure.

Before the 2010 accident, we had a lackluster safety committee; it was a way to be on a committee, but not do any actual work.

EHS now has a much heftier line item in the budget for safety.

Faculty, staff, and graduate students are required to take and pass a biannual safety exam. The exam is randomized each time a person takes it from a question bank of ~250 questions. Everyone is required to take this biannually.

Q: What are the consequence if a faculty member does not pass the biannual test?

A: Taking and passing the test is tied into the HR system. If they don’t complete it, they don’t get paid. We had a little trouble in the beginning, but now have 100% compliance.

Texas Tech does not have unions.

The average lab group at Texas Tech has ~10 people in it.

Now working on developing effective “safety award” programs to use as carrots in the system.

Q: Could the safety award programs introduce perverse incentives?

A: We haven’t yet seen evidence of this. A faculty representative from every lab/work area with a safety concern is represented on the committee, so the test has broad support.

Q: Have you employed any means of measuring the graduate researcher perspective on the changes that have been made at Texas Tech since the 2010 incident?

A: When writing the 2 perspective articles for ACS Chemical Health & Safety, we decided not to include the graduate student who was injured due to concerns of re-traumatization. We have also not really introduced a specific way of tracking graduate student perceptions. Obviously, we would not have a graduate student population who would have been there for 10 years to compare the time before the accident and now. However, it is interesting to consider if there is some way to capture that perspective to see if graduate students do notice the changes that we have made. Things definitely “feel” different, but have not formally tracked it in any way.

Nominations sought for 2021 CHAS awards

The American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Health and Safety is now seeking nominations for the division awards described below.  

**Check out our two new awards for 2021!**

The deadline for nominations is December 1, 2020.  All awardees will be notified by Spring 2021, and awards will be presented at the National ACS meeting in August, 2021.  Please direct all questions and submit nominations to the Awards Chair, Kimi Brown, at awards@dchas.org.  Nomination application forms can be downloaded from the pages linked below.

  • **New for 2021!** Graduate Students: The CHAS Graduate Student Safety Leadership Award is given to recognize a graduate student researcher or recent graduate (within 3 years of latest degree) who demonstrates outstanding leadership in the area of chemical health and safety in their laboratory, research group, or department. Each year the award is dedicated to a different historical figure in chemical safety. The award consists of $2000 as an honorarium and to support travel to the fall national meeting. An optional, additional $500 will be provided to support a new or ongoing project that promotes graduate student safety at the home school.
  • Chemical Health and Safety Professionals: The Howard Fawcett Chemical Health and Safety Award recognizes outstanding individual contributions to the field of Chemical Health and Safety. The award consists of a commemorative plaque and a $500 prize for expenses so that the recipient can present at an award symposium at the fall ACS national meeting.
  • CHAS Division Members: The Tillmanns-Skolnik Award was established in 1984 to recognize and honor outstanding, long-term service to the Division of Chemical Health and Safety. The award consists of a commemorative plaque and a $500 prize for expenses so that the recipient can present at an award symposium at the fall ACS national meeting.
  • Graduate Research Faculty:  The Laboratory Safety Institute Graduate Research Faculty Safety Award recognizes graduate-level academic research faculty who demonstrate outstanding commitment to chemical health and safety in their laboratories. The award consists of an engraved plaque and a $1,000 prize for expenses so that the recipient can present at an award symposium at the fall ACS national meeting.
  • Undergraduate Lab Safety Programs: The SafetyStratus College and University Health and Safety Award is given to recognize the most comprehensive laboratory safety program in higher education (undergraduate study only). The College and University award consists of a commemorative plaque and a $1000 prize for expenses so that the recipient can present at an award symposium at the fall ACS national meeting.
  • Student Conference Presenters: The CHAS Student Registration Award is given to encourage student participation in CHAS programming at ACS national meetingsThe award provides reimbursement in the amount of full-conference registration fee (undergraduate, graduate, or pre-college teacher student rate, as applicable). Two student registration awards are given for each ACS national meeting.

Nominations are also solicited for special service and fellow awards:

  • Chemical Health and Safety Professionals: The CHAS Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a lifetime of dedication and service to the American Chemical Society, the ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety, and the field of chemical health and safety.  The awardee gives a 20 – 30 minute keynote presentation at the Awards Symposium at the fall ACS national meeting.
  • CHAS Division Members: The Fellows Awards recognize CHAS members in good standing who have provided continuous service. Nominees who meet the criteria will receive a certificate.