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The Double Challenge: Laboratory Safety in Academia Robin M. Izzo, M.S. Assistant Director for Laboratory Safety.

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Presentation on theme: "The Double Challenge: Laboratory Safety in Academia Robin M. Izzo, M.S. Assistant Director for Laboratory Safety."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Double Challenge: Laboratory Safety in Academia Robin M. Izzo, M.S. Assistant Director for Laboratory Safety

2 An Unfortunate Truth Researchers need to know a lot about a few things. They go around learning more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing Administrators need to know a little about a lot of things. They go around learning less and less about more and more until they know nothing about anything. Safety professionals start out knowing everything about everything and end up knowing nothing about anything because they have to deal with researchers and administrators.

3 The Academic Challenge Inexperienced lab workers High turnover Academic Freedom Decentralization The “Institutes” Variable Funding Research Focus Foreign Students

4 Inexperienced Lab Workers Graduate Students –Direct from Undergrad –Industry experience Undergraduates Faculty –Academia vs. Industry

5 High School Students Summer study Part-time study Science Fair projects NJ Child Labor Law Paid vs. Unpaid

6 High Turnover Graduate Students –2-6 years Undergrads –1-2 years Checkout Problems –Chemicals left behind –Unusual labeling –Old equipment

7 Training EHS Training –General Lab Safety –Specialty »Rad, Laser, LOTO, BBP, Live Virus, Animal, Respirator, MRI, Noise, Hoisting/Rigging Graduate Students Undergrads Post-docs PI Responsibility

8 Academic Freedom Academic Freedom ≠ Freedom from Responsibility Who is responsible for safety? Freedom vs. Security –US PATRIOT Act

9 Lab Supervisor Training “Briefing” rather than “Training” Personal meeting with me Responsibilities for safety, environment and security University Expectations Available resources –Health and safety-related –Other, e.g., power, security, registration Lab Profiling

10 Profiling Tool Series of questions relating to lab operations Determines which health and safety programs apply Training Matrix Are machines or mechanical systems (e.g. materials handling equipment, internal combustion engines, pressurized systems) or powered tools used? Program Codes: 7, 9 Do individuals work on or near exposed electrical circuits? Program Code: 6, 7 Do individuals work from elevated surfaces (greater than four feet above the surrounding surfaces), ladders or conduct work on the roof of a building? Program Codes: 10, 11 Does your facility contain spaces that must be entered by personnel that are not intended for normal occupancy and that have limited means of entry (e.g. tanks, vessels, pits, etc.) Program Codes: 12, 7, 10 Do individuals perform cutting, welding, brazing, torch soldering, etc.? Program Codes: 13 Do individuals perform work that involves rigging or hoisting operations? Program Code: 14 Can you reasonably anticipate that individuals might have exposure to human blood or other body fluids? Program Code: 22

11 Decentralization No central purchasing No central receiving No central waste storage/pickup area 12 Science and Engineering Departments

12 How to Deal? Department Safety Managers Chemical Hygiene Officers Safety Manager Breakfasts Safety Committees Lab Managers Listserves Waste Paper

13 The “Institutes” New research trend –Mix researchers from several different disciplines »Computer science »Biological sciences »Engineering »Chemistry –One main focus »Integrative Genomics »Material Science »Nanotechnology –One building for many types of research

14 Institute Challenges Whose department is it anyway? –Each researcher is from one major department, but part of the Institute –Host department and institute do not always communicate Building Design –Must be changeable –Open design most common

15 Open Lab Design Open to promote “bumping into each other” Common spaces, food courts, etc. They don’t know how to share!

16 Lewis Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

17 Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics


19 Open Lab Design Difficult to separate special functions –Live viruses –Radioactive materials work –Particularly hazardous substances –Clean rooms –Select agents

20 Open Lab Design The “Lego” effect –Today it’s a computer lab, tomorrow a laser lab –Moveable walls Overhead utilities Interstitial spaces

21 Variable Funding Some PIs are better funded than others May vary from year to year Still the same safety issues No central funding for safety (except hazardous waste)

22 Research Focus New faculty may mean completely new EHS challenges –Dive officer –Overseas research »EHS in another country –Need to become instant expert in some new area of EHS

23 Pregnancy and The Lab No formal policy Official Declaration of Pregnancy Confidentiality Lab Screening Outcomes depend on the woman –Lab work as usual –Restrict certain activities –Non-lab work –Leave of absence

24 Foreign Researchers English as a second language –Training –Written materials Cultural differences –Safety –Environmental –Personal US PATRIOT –Background checks

25 Turning Lemons in to Lemonade Using Accidents and Incidents to Your Advantage

26 Incidents and Accidents Not very common Most are minor The “bad” ones can always be a lesson Incident reporting and investigation –Root cause –No blame –Examples

27 Incidents and Accidents Use in training –Makes it seem more important –Use examples that happened right here at Princeton University –Do not use examples from completely unrelated disciplines –Anecdotes Section of Princeton University Lab Safety Manual – most popular siteAnecdotes Section

28 Chloroform Incident Chloroform under pressure Misuse of fume hood sash Wrong eye protection Incorrect use of safety shower

29 Laser Incident - Electrical Opened housing Bypassed interlock Condensation problem First aid/CPR Defibrillation

30 Laser Incident - Eye Assumed low risk Jerry-rigged equipment Permanent damage to eye Clear and critical vision (Fovea)

31 Hey, This is Not Coffee! Buffer solution Coffee cup on lab bench Chose the wrong cup Lucky is wasn’t hazardous

32 Dartmouth Professor Tiny amount dimethylmercury Wrong glove Death from mercury poisoning Choose the right glove

33 Bursting Flask Sat in LN 2 No vacuum Looked for crack Burst Cryogenic liquid hazard

34 Flying Flaming Hexane Heat in beaker with heat gun Vapors contacted motor Threw across room Computer ruined

35 HF Incident Grabbed outside of container Ungloved hand 3 hour delay Severe burn

36 Nitric Acid Waste Incident Methanol container Nitric Acid waste Burst Miracle

37 LAH Fire Water reactive Lab coat Fire extinguisher failure

38 Beyond Compliance Fostering a culture that promotes environmental stewardship

39 Step One - Compliance EPA Multimedia Audit –Target colleges and universities –Very large fines –RCRA and labs are not a good fit Education –Training and meetings –Policy on Fines Inspections

40 Pollution Prevention Source Reduction Recycle/Reclaim Treatment Dispose

41 Promoting P2 Check purchasing records Watch waste Pollution Prevention web sitePollution Prevention Lab or operation assessments Share successes A little competition Stress/share the financial benefits

42 Successes Waste reduction by more than 60% Microscale No chromium-based cleaners Mercury thermometer swaps Water-free pumps Chilled water loops

43 Questions?

44 Contact Information Robin Izzo Assistant Director for Laboratory Safety Environmental Health and Safety Princeton University 262 Alexander Street Princeton, NJ 08544 609-258-6259 (phone) 609-258-1804 (fax) (Lab Safety Manual)

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