The job at which I worked before I came to ACS had a great safety culture. Everyday I came to work, the sign above the door proclaim “over 7 years no lost work time.” The management purchased a Caribbean cruise for the entire company after 5 years with no safety problems. And I recall the CEO advising everyone, from the newest operator to the most senior salesman, to walk the plant at least weekly and report any potential safety hazards. It was clear that my first job at that company was making sure everyone went home safe. The safety culture of a workplace matters, as it does to Anna Davis at Dow Chemical:
“I was fortunate to work for professors that took safety seriously,” Davis says, “But I think that the culture varies too much from one research group to another” in academia, and consequences are minimal when something bad happens. In contrast, at Dow it’s emphasized from day one that, no matter what your job is or where you work, safety is a job expectation and is a critical part of your job performance, Davis says.
And we need a culture of lab safety because people do experience injury in labs, and these injuries can even be fatal. On April 28th of this year, Richard Din was killed by a bacteria he was studying. His death is a tragic reminder of the potential hazards present in labs across the country.
We realized that we really needed to push lab safety culture, especially with many of you going to work in unfamiliar labs this summer. With this in mind, on June 4 we at the ACS Undergraduate Programs Office will join with other chemistry bloggers and social media users to celebrate Lab Personal Protective Equipment Day, and we’d like you to join us! To emphasize the importance of safety gear, email us pictures of yourselves wearing your most fashionable personal protective equipment (PPE) by June 3rd, and we’ll post it, and we’ll also recognize our favorite pictures. We’ll also submit pictures to the Lab PPE tumblr account. These pictures can be old or new, silly or serious, doing work or chemistry demonstrations, as long as they show that above all else, you care about yourself and the people with whom you do chemistry by thinking about safety.
Follow this event on Twitter at #LabPPEday.
Note: we will only display pictures that actually follow lab safety guidelines. So- lab coat, gloves, goggles/safety glasses, hair up, closed toed shoes, no dangling jewelery, etc. If you have any questions, we have a Personal Protection section in our pamphlet on safety.