Lab safety highlighted at workshop
Doha, March 7, 2011
Safety in science laboratories, whether in industry or in education, is not accidental, and is the result of attention to detail and a commitment to safety policies and procedures, said an expert.
James Kaufman, a former college chemistry professor who is founder and president of the Laboratory Safety Institute, shared techniques for developing laboratory safety programmes with secondary school science educators in Qatar at a recent day-long workshop.
The workshop, which was sponsored by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, provided more than 90 teachers, technicians and administrators with specific training in lab safety measures and with resources to share with colleagues.
“In the US, the accident frequency in schools and colleges is 10 to 50 times greater than in the chemical industry,” said Kaufman, who worked early in his career as a research chemist with the Dow Chemical Company.
“The single most important component of a safety program is an orientation on health, safety, and environmental affairs orientation for all new employees and students,” Kauffman said.
“Awareness that working safely is a condition of employment or participation in the school is an essential part of building a culture of safety,” he added.
Topics discussed during the workshop included eye and face protection, proper storage and handling of chemicals, and hazardous waste disposal.
Kaufman provided the teachers with a 270-page manual containing extensive materials documenting practical steps for laboratory safety, including a pamphlet he developed “Laboratory Safety Guidelines,” that listed 40 suggestions for a safer lab that could be implemented with minimal or moderate expense.
“The worst time to test a fire distinguisher is when you need it,” Kaufman said. “It’s a good idea to test a fire distinguisher before you need it, to make sure you know how it works, how it sounds, and how effective it is,” he said. – TradeArabia News Service