James: Good morning everyone. Welcome to today's webinar, “10 components of a highly effective lab safety program”. My name is James and I'll be your moderator for today's event.
Before we dive into the presentation, I'd like to give you a brief overview on this webinar – what it entails; what we'll do throughout the next hour and walk through some housekeeping items as well.
We'll kick things off with our slide show addressing the critical components of a lab safety program and how to be more effective when planning your program in the adoption stage.
Some of you may have attended our safety culture webinar back in November where we emphasized the importance of behaviour base safety and how to move from a dependent to an inter-dependent safety culture.
Our speaker today will focus more on the procedures, the rules and the written policies around that safety in order to reduce risk and injury rates.
Following the presentation there will be an open Q&A period. You can ask questions anytime, which is encouraged by typing them into the questions pane on the right hand side of your screen.
Please note that everyone's microphone will be turned off over the entirety of the webinar. But if you have a question or a technical issue comes up, once again you may use the questions pane to communicate.
By the way, please keep in mind you will receive a copy of the slide deck and the webinar recording tomorrow. All of the materials that are presented today will be in your inbox tomorrow.
I'm pleased to introduce Dr. James Kaufman, President and CEO of the Laboratory Safety Institute. Dr. Kaufman has retired from his position as Professor of Chemistry at Kerry College. Prior to Kerry, he was a Research Chemist at Dow Chemical. While there, he became increasingly involved in Lab Safety Activities and authored laboratory safety guidelines which has become the world's most widely distributed lab safety publication.
And so with that, I will turn the floor over to Jim. Hey, Jim!
Jimmy: Good morning, good morning everyone. Thanks for joining us. It's really a pleasure to be here and I'm awfully grateful to Triumvirate for the invitation and the opportunity. I have a special affection for Triumvirate because when I was teaching at Curry College one of my students, a Bill McBurney, a chemistry major was one of the three founders of Triumvirate.
While I was at Kerry, I started this organization, the Laboratory Safety Institute. It's a non-profit for safety and Science and Science Education. And for the last 40 years, we've been working with schools and colleges and industry throughout the world, 150 different kinds of labs in 30 countries to provide advice and courses and help educate people to make Labs safer.
So let's begin by talking about the concept of a safety program. I had a colleague call me one day and say, “We have a safety program, Jim. We do a briefing for our students before each lab and at the start of the semester.” And I said, “That's one component in a safety program.”
There is a whole collection of activities, functions and practices that need to be part of your program that help to address the particular health and safety needs that you have at your place.
But what are those components look like? Here's our checklist, 33 components. We've got this checklist. It’s two pages and anybody who'd like to a copy of it, we're happy to send you a copy of it. It can be used either qualitatively or quantitatively to assess your program. We use it when we're doing program audits.
If you'd like to use it qualitatively, just think about each of the components and then put a checkmark in the column that makes sense to you. “Is it okay? Does it need additional work or does not exist?” And that's one indication; you really want to try to get more checkmarks in the okay column.
If you want to do it semi-quantitatively, add up how many you've got in each column and then get more on to the okays and fewer in the do not exist. And if you'd like a score out of a hundred give yourself three points for everything that's okay, zero to three if it needs additional work, and zero if it doesn't exist.
And since there are 33 components, 33 times 3 is 99 and I'll give you a bonus point for the courage for doing this thing numerically. That's your score of a hundred.
We also have some other scoring systems that we use and we have criteria available for each of these components.
So let's take a look and look at the concept of improving your lag safety program. You know, whether you're starting from scratch or you have a highly developed and effective program the idea is to go from good to better to best and to keep on improving no matter how good you get because you always want to make it better.
I had the opportunity over the holidays. I was in Germany and I visited BASF in Ludwigshafen. And I receive a copy of a program that they called LIEN. And one of their principles in their LIEN concept is continuous improvement. No matter how good you are, you want to continue to try to make it better.
So our goal is try to be to have very few accidents. What does it mean to improve? It means that safety is a judgment about the acceptability of risk. And who's going to decide at your place what kind of risk is acceptable? Is everybody going to be doing exactly what they enjoy doing? Or you're going to use the Frank Sinatra method, I did it my way? Or is your organization going to have a clearly defined set of policies that helps everybody to understand what the acceptable risks are going to be?
Our friend Dillard has an interesting take on this. So our goal is zero disabling injuries. Last year our goal was 26. In retrospect, it was probably a mistake. We had to injure nine employees to meet the goal. Well, that's not so good. We're not going to pre-select who should get injured this year. We don't want anybody to be hurt.
Let's look at those ten components. Here's the first one. It's called the “new employee safety orientation”. I went to school for 25 years. K to 12, 13 years; Undergraduate studying Chemistry, four years; graduate school, six years; post-doc, two years – 25 years in school. The day I left school and went to work for the Dow Chemical company in Wayland Massachusetts at the Central Research in England Lab, I learned more about lab safety in one day than I had in 25 years in school, scared the living daylights out of me.
My boss, my immediate supervisors spend the whole day doing nothing but talking about safety. And I believe that this component and the involvement of the immediate supervisor is the number one, single, most important component in a good lab safety program or any kind of safety program; that it's critical that after human resources is done with the new person, after the safety department is done with the new person and they go to be with their immediate supervisor that that person looks them in the eye and says, “Look, your health and safety is more important here. And following our safety rules is important here and I don't want you to ever do anything that you feel is unsafe.”
So, getting immediate supervisors involved, we feel, is a critical component. And it's a good leading indicator to see what percentage of all your new people get their safety orientation portion from the immediate supervisor. But, you don't have to wait until and employee starts working for you to start training them about how much you care about safety and how important it is there.
Unfortunately, over and over again I hear predominantly on academic institutions, “We're improving our lab safety program one retirement at a time.” What they are saying is they're getting rid of older employees who don't really care about this. And my comment is, “Okay, let's do it at both ends. Let's put lab safety into the interview and let's ask the lab safety question.”
“What have you done in the past that's kind of allowed you to contribute to our organization's lab safety program?” And if the candidate gets a glazed look which means they have no idea what you're talking about, maybe that's not the right candidate. So after today, if you hire people who really don't care about lab safety and one of your goals is to improve your safety culture, then you've missed out on a great opportunity.
And you might want to consider putting it in the job ad. “Wanted: safety conscious, chemist, microbiologist, physicist,” you name it. Let the whole world know that you care about this.
Number two is the safety manual. My boss at Dow handed me the Dow Central Research Safety Manual and he said, “Jim, take this home tonight and read it. And when you come back in the morning ask all the questions you like because this is the way we like to do things here.”
Do you have a lab safety manual that has all of your policies for working safely in writing? If your policies aren't in writing, you don't have policies. You have an oral tradition and it needs to be readily accessible. It needs to be reviewed at least annually. And we'll suggest later on the importance of getting everybody involved in doing that.
The policies, they need to be enforced. This is critical. It's so critical that if your policies aren't enforced, you don't have policies. What you have is called lip service. Those of you that are parents know that children can figure out in a heartbeat that you're bluffing. Adults, it takes us a little bit longer but we finally figure out that there are no consequences and we can do whatever we like with [0:12:19].
What we're talking about is having rules and enforcing those rules. Safety people don't sit up late at night trying to figure out how to make it take longer, cost more money and irritate the living daylights out of their colleagues. It's very simple. As night follows day, if you do what those people did, sooner or later you're going to end up with the same result.
If you take a look at LSI's website, you're going to see that on the resources page there's something called the memorial wall. It is a virtual memorial wall with the names of over 500 people who have died as the result of laboratory accidents. And I don't think there's anyone who's listening today who wants themselves or anyone they know to end up on that select group list. We need to have the rules followed. They need to be enforced.
Number three is the safety committee. My boss at Dow said, “Jim, if there's anything you want to do and it's not in the manual don't do it. Take your suggestion to the safety community and if they approve it, they'll put it in the manual and then we're all going to do it that way. But until then, we're going to follow the policies in the manual.”
The safety committee needs to meet regularly. I feel the membership should rotate through everyone in the organization. If you had 60 people in a group, I would put six people on the committee. I've had six alternates and after the first year, the member goes off. Every two months one member goes off and an alternate comes on. And over a period of ten years everybody who works in the lab would serve on the committee.
It's not something that Jim and Sue and Tom and Betty do because they think this is a good thing and the other folks are doing the important science stuff. Good science is safe science and everyone needs to participate.
There is a concept called the central safety committee model and this is something that comes from Dupont and it says that, “The highest ranking person in the organization at each facility and their direct reports meets regularly and talks about safety issues at their level.”
Are your senior management people directly involved in the safety program? If not, they may need the motivation that comes from a seminar that we do called Leadership in Safety, a three or four hour presentation on the critical role that senior management plays in creating more effective safety programs.
Number four is the rules agreement. My boss at Dow said, “Jim, tomorrow I'd also like you when you come in in the morning to sign the front of the manual where it says, ‘I've read it, I understand this and I agree to follow these procedures.’”
And I wasn't a sophomore in high school. I wasn't a sophomore in college. I was a PhD with two years of post doctoral experience being asked to sign the same kind of rules agreement that hopefully your sons and daughters are signing in secondary schools, middle schools, colleges in their science classes.
You know, when I say the Science faculty who were using rules agreement with their students, do you expect the science faculty to be the role models for the students? They say, “Why, of course.” And I say, “Do you sign the rules agreement?” And they say, “No, why?”
And I believe this should be moved from being implicit to being explicit. And I think every employee in any organization should be asked to review the core rules and sign an agreement to follow them.
And that critical agreement has to have four parts, not three. You've read it, you understood it, you agree to follow it and the fourth part is called the realized. “I realized that if I don't follow the rules, it's going to cost me the privilege of being here with everyone.”
Working safely must be a condition of employment and we'll come back to that. We're going to try to drive that concept home.
One of the things you can do is ask the highest ranking person in the facility to provide a cover letter that goes with the rules agreement that welcomes people, talks about safety and emphasizes the consequences for not following the rules.
We have a sample letter that we're happy to provide if you'd like a copy at San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico. The president and the dean took that letter. They enlarged it; they customized it and they posted it at the door, inside the door of every laboratory on campus so that every student gets to see the greeting and what happens if you don't follow the rules.
The safety manual for Glaxo-Smith Klein has a cover letter from the Vice President for R&D and it says in the last paragraph, “And I'd like to remind my colleagues that working safely at GSK in a safe and healthy and environmentally responsible manner, is a condition of employment. Thank you very much.”
Let's get our senior management involved and let them provide the cover letter.
There are four simple questions. I've been working at Dow for about four weeks when I heard on the radio that there'd been an explosion at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, WPI in western Mass where I did my doctoral work and my post doc.
So, I drove back there to [0:18:55] lab where the fluorescent lights were blown off the ceiling, the windows were blown out, the stone bench and the cabinet underneath was sheared off and a graduate student, Jim Guerrero had blown off parts of both hands. And I looked around and I realized there was no way my 25 years in school had prepared me to work up to the standard of the Dow chemical company.
If you're working at an academic institution, I have a question for you. What standard are your graduate is going to be able to work up to? How much are they going to care about health and safety? How important are they going to feel that is?
And, for the employees, whether you're a faculty member or working at a company somewhere, I have a second question. How do you know that the next person you hire isn't going to be so ignorant of the lab safety issues that they're going to hurt themselves, they're going to hurt you, and they're going to destroy the place?
I decided to write something. I wrote laboratory safety guidelines, “40 Suggestions for a Safer Lab” and I'm happy to give you a copy or you can download it off our website in one of 15 languages. Dow sent that out to 2,000 colleges and universities in the mid-70's and we got back requests for a quarter of a million reprints. Since then, more than six million copies of that document have been given away.
The four simple questions are suggestion number 11 on the guidelines. And these are the questions that we need to answer before we go ahead and do anything.
Do we really recognize the hazards that are present? Life has nine hazards – chemical, physical, biological, mechanical, noise, radiation, high/low pressure, electrical and stress. Do we recognize them? What's the worst thing that could happen? We're going to talk about that in a little while. I'll show you a list of 21 things that can go wrong.
What do we need to do to be prepared? And what are the proven practices, protective facilities and protective equipment needed to minimize the risk? I guess that schools, colleges, and industry all over the world and I find that they've made the worst choice when it comes to picking eye protection. And they don't recognize it as being a bad choice.
Here's an example of choices and understanding and proven practices. There is a flammables cabinet and I was visiting on a lab and I saw this cabinet and another one in the room that had this hanging on to the side and I said to them, “What is that?” And they explained to me what it was. And I said, “Well, what else does it do?” And they said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “What's its second purpose?” And they said, “What do you mean?” And I explained it.
When I came to the United States and I went to Cornell and I went to Ohio Wesley and I went to Green River Community College and I went to MIT and I asked a hundred people, “What is this and what's its second purpose?” And only 50% knew that it's used to hold the doors open.
This hole goes over that post and it holds the door open to Caesar spring loaded doors. And no one, zero out of a hundred, knew that this is a fusible link that melts on a 165 degrees so the door will close automatically if there's a fire that breaks out before you happen to close the doors yourself.
Well, at the company I was visiting they clearly didn't understand this because when it broke they machined this one out of aluminium which melts at 650 degrees. I contacted just right and talked with the technical director and he was kind enough to send me about a dozen of these and I keep showing them at all of our workshops now so that people can learn more about fusible links and how flammable cabinets work. The issue is though you don't know what you don't know.
Safety policy. Number six. The highest ranking person in the organization should craft their statement about that organization’s commitment to environmental health and safety.
And whether you're at school or college or a company, this is a critical document and this document can as well be signed by everyone who works in the facility.
If you make the frame around it big enough, everyone can sign up and join your highest ranking officers in this. And you can make it really large and you can have pictures of people on it but this is a critical component and this is one of the ways that your chief executive, the superintendent of schools, the president of a college or university and the president of a company stakes out the high ground for everybody. It's a critical component.
There are six leadership principles. And these principles come from a book by James Tulman who works for Dupont for over 30 years and I really liked them and I've incorporated them into several of our presentations.
Principle number one is that management is responsible for prevention of accidents, injuries and damage to health and the environment. That's a management responsibility and it follows the management food chain.
If you look at the definition of a chemical hygiene officer in the OSHA Lab Standard, one of the most important words in that definition is the word that's not there. That word is “enforce”. There's nothing in the description of the chemical hygiene officer says there are cop. And in fact, this is management's responsibility.
It's the supervisor who should say, “Jim you're doing a great job. We want to give you a raise, a bonus and a promotion.” But the dark side of being the supervisor is you also have to be prepared to say to Jim, “Your work isn't up to our standard and you're not working safely and following the rules. And if you are unwilling or unable to do that, it's going to cost you your job. My job as your supervisor is to coach you and train you up to the point where I believe I've done the very best I can. And beyond that point, we're going to have to move into our discipline procedure – verbal warning, written warning, paid decision making leave of absence and you're terminated.”
You know, I'd rather escort somebody out than carry them out. I'd rather explain to their family why they were fired for not following the rules than provide the eulogy at their funeral and have to say, “We didn't enforce our rules.” This is a management responsibility.
Number two, all accidents can be prevented. We have to believe that. We can't say, “No. We insured 26 people. We had to do nine more than meet the goal.” We don't want to have a goal of injuring only four people this year. We want to have a goal of injuring zero. But when there are accidents, you do need to fill out accident and incident report forms.
Here's Dilbert’s take on that. “You have an injury? Fill out these forms immediately.” “But these are resignation forms.” “Well, if you cover the word resignation with your thumb, it's an injury report.” “This place makes me sick.” I like Dilbert.
One of my colleagues gave me a 365 day Dilbert calendar for last year. I’ve got a number of them posted all over the office.
Number three is training. It's essential. Employees need lots of opportunities to learn and we'll talk more about that when we get to element number eight.
Principle number four, all hazards can be safeguarded. If you can identify the hazard you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of harm. Industrial hygienists, that's their job. They look around the workplace and they look for the hazards that are present and they look at the exposure that people has to those hazards. That's the risk. And they control the risk by putting in place control measures – elimination, substitution, administrative controls, engineering controls, and as a last resort, personal protective equipment.
Number of years ago at the Dow Magnolia, Arkansas plant where they were making dichlorobromo propane – it was pesticide, they discovered that the males were going irreversibly sterile; that dichlorobromo propane is a male reproductive toxin. And the solution to this was to eliminate this business from the menu, completely out of the business. The risk going to zero it was no longer there.
Hazards can be safeguarded but you've got to be able to identify them first.
Safety is good business. William Jefferson said this, the chairman CEO of Dupont but my favorite poster person for this concept is the guy named Paul O'Neal. And Paul, he became the Chair CEO Alcola Aluminum, in the early 2000's when Alcola was pretty much in the sewer. Their stock price was down, their productivity was down and their morale was down.
And Paul he came to his first meeting with his board and with his investors and he said, “Alcola's going to have the best safety record in the industry and the lowest accident frequency rate.” And somebody raised a hand and said, “But Mr. O’Neal, but what about the return on the shareholder investment?” And he said, “You didn't hear me. Alcola is going to have the best safety record in the country and the lowest accident frequency rate.”
Few years later, Alcola had risen out of the fire and was soaring. Their stock price was up. Their productivity was up and their morale was up. And they said, “Paul, did you realized four years ago that this was going to result when you emphasized safety?” And he said, “Absolutely.” He said, “You know we pay people to work 40 hours a week but they have discretionary energy. They have to decide how hard they're going to work. And when people know that you care about their well-being and the well-being of their families, they're going to work an awful lot harder.” Safety is good business.
Last principle, working safely is a condition of employment. I said that before. I'll say it again. If you want to have the best safety program, losing your job needs to be one of the last resorts that's there if somebody just doesn't get it. And it's got to be clear, it's got to be fair and it's got to be in the manual.
But let me ask you a question. Let's drive it home. I hope somebody who's listening is the parent of a two-year old. I'm sure it looks to me like, James, we've got 247 people who are joining us today; somebody's the mother or a father of a two-year old.
But I'd like all of you to pretend that you are the parents of the two-year old. And you go out to dinner, and you come home at 8 o'clock at night and the baby sitter you hired is asleep and your two-year old is crawling across the floor about to stick a metal fork and an electric outlet, pull a lamp off a table on to his or her head or strike a pack of matches?
How many retraining sessions are you going to have for the baby sitter? You know what? I've asked this question of thousands of people and no one has hesitated to fire the baby sitter. And if it's your mother-in-law, your father-in-law or your own parents who are tougher to fire, you say, “You know, Mom, Dad we want you to keep being here but we're going to hire somebody else to pay attention to everyone so you can snooze whenever you like. But somebody's going to be awake watching our two-year old when we go out to eat.” Working safely must be your condition of employment.
Number eight is education and training. As I said before, employees need lots of opportunities to learn. They can be live, on-site in person presentations; it can be audio programs; it can be distance learning programs. I hope you're going to get a copy – I know you're going to get a copy of this and I hope you'll share it with colleagues so that they can think about the things we've been talking about.
Think about your staff meeting. Think about having activities that you can do in your staff meeting to promote safety. One example would be making a list of the most dangerous chemicals that you use in your operations and assigning one take the top, the top ten Conference All-Stars. Give one to each member of the staff.
And every month somebody reviews the safety data sheet and presents in two, three minutes the precautions; that the hazards and the precautions that need to be taken and then you pin that safety data sheet up on your lab safety bulletin board.
Think about having brown bag lunch safety meetings. Dave Messier at WPI did this. He was the EHS manager there and he would write everybody on campus – students, facilities, faculty to come for lunch and have a safety topic and he would provide the beverages.
I like the idea of having a lab safety bulletin board where you put information on it which if people will stop and read it, they're going to learn something that helps them to improve their safety; like stories about accidents, like the emergency procedure of the month, like the safety data sheet of the month, like the safety policy of the month and safety vocabulary.
As you learn a new word, pin it up on that bulletin board with the definition on the back side. And when you get 25 new safety words on that board, the manager provides some sort of treat like ice cream for everyone. Let's celebrate learning the vocabulary of safety.
I was at a university with 13 chemical hygiene officers from different departments and I put 15 safety words on the board. And said, “Is there any here that you don't know?” And everybody raised their hand. And we went through all of them. And when we were done I said, “Hey, you know what? These 15 words came from the safety data sheet for Methanol. How are you going to read this safety data sheet if you don't know the vocabulary?”
And most importantly train your people by example. And it doesn't matter what your rank is in the organization. You can be a leader by setting the highest personal standard for your safety practices.
Number nine is lab inspections and this is very important. When should they take place? Who should do it?
Well, personally I think they should take place at least monthly. And I believe that everybody that works in the lab should be involved in doing that inspection on a rotating basis.
At Dow, we have 50 people. Three people did the inspection. In your third month on the team you wrote the report and you're off and a new person comes on. So, you serve three times. And since we have 50 people it takes 50 months. And every four or five years everybody in the lab served and that included secretaries, maintenance, business manager, lab director, technicians. Everybody participated in inspecting this 30,000 square foot facility.
Everybody needs to be involved in doing lab inspections. One of the saddest things I heard was somebody said to me, “Jim we can't let them do it because they don't know what to look for.” Well, if they or the folks were working in the lab and we are the environmental health and safety people, we can solve this by letting them do the inspections and giving them a good checklist. We want them to be able to recognize.
So here is a model lab for you. It's called the “what not to do laboratory.” And there are over 50 things wrong with this picture. What I'd like you to do with it is take it back and use it to have a contest at your place.
Give out copies to everyone and get the manager to put up a $100, dinner for two on a nice restaurant for the employee who can find the most things wrong with this picture. And if you'd like the PDF for it, let me know. I'm happy to send it to you. And love to see if you can find – we also have the answer key for it.
And recently somebody said they found a hundred. So, I haven't gotten time to look to see what they found but I'm looking forward to that and seeing if we can add some more that we've missed to this lab inspection.
If you'd like a book to help you with it, the American Chemical Society has something good called the Safety Audit Inspection Manual and you can get that at ACS.org and I'm happy to send you the link if you'd like.
Number ten, planning for emergencies. “This never happened before.” Well, there are lots of things in life that you don't want to ever have happened and one of them is a piece of glass in your eyeball or having your home burned down.
So, we have an activity where we asked our classes. We give them two minutes to see how many different kinds of emergencies they can list in two minutes. We usually get anywhere from six to 15 and then we talk about them.
I'd like you to get out a blank sheet of paper at your next staff meeting and give everybody two minutes. See how many they can write down and then take that list, rank order it, pull off the top, the conference all stars and every month we view one of these.
Here's our master list. Things like cats, burns, fires. When you're on fire what do you do first? Well, hopefully stop, drop and roll. What's the second thing you do? Well, how about taking a shower to cool down?
We need to be prepared to deal with all of these. And Amy Bishop is the poster person who went postal at work. She was a Biology professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who was denied tenure and she brought a gun to the meeting and shot six people, killed three.
What happens if you're not prepared? Well, Larson says it's a recipe for disaster. And there is grandma out cold on the floor.
There are three steps to being prepared. We need to talk. We need to have conversations at staff meetings about this and talk is cheap. You don't need a purchase order or a requisition to have a conversation. And we need to get those procedures in writing and get them off at the lab safety bulletin board to review them every month. And lastly, you never get better on anything unless you practice. Drills are essential.
So, this brings us to safety program planning. It takes a lot of things to have a good safety program. Caring about your own health and safety and the health and safety of the people around you, making it integral, part of the job, providing rewards for good safety performance, for the other [0:43:00], discipline, working safely must be a condition of employment.
We all get careless. We all need reminders and that's why we have petitioned this important. And finally, everybody needs to participate. The best safety program, get everyone involved. It's no magic. For students, faculty and administrators or employees and management, everybody can contribute to that program.
You know, in conclusion you can make an incredible difference in health and safety and the health and safety of the people you care about by the time and energy that you put into this.
But the bad news is it's a really big job and you're never going to be done. But it's worth it because no lesson is so important and no task so urgent that we can't take time to teach, learn and practice science safely.
Thank you very much for being here and I think we're going to turn in a second to having some questions.
James: Thanks, Jim. And at this point we'll transition over into the Q&A portion of the webinar. I've seen several questions come in already. We've got about 14 minutes left so I encourage those of you that have a question for Jim to please type it up and send it in and we'll get through as many as we can with the time allowed and follow up to those of you that we might not get to after the webinar.
So, Jim, the first question, here’s a good one. “How can I convince my colleagues who aren't on today's webinar that safety is important? How do I get that management buy in?”
Jimmy: Well, this is certainly one of the most popular questions that were asked. I was teaching a course in Nairobi, Kenya, a 125 people. And a guy sitting on a table in the back of the room said, “I'm here, but how am I going to get my colleagues to buy into this?”
And I'd like to just give you one example. It happened at Kellogs, Rice Crispies manufacturer in Battle Creek, Michigan. I got invited to go out there and try to help them because the chemists didn't want to wear their eye protection.
And when I got there, I discovered that the Vice President in charge of research had solved the problem. He instituted a new safety program which I call “snap, crackle, pop” named after the little rice crispies guys.
What he said was the first time you're caught you're going to get a verbal warning. That's the snap. The second time you're caught without your eye protection on you'll get a written warning. That's the crackle. And the third time you're caught without your eye protection on you're fired. That's the pop.
And you know what? They don't have the problem in Battle Creek with chemists not wanting to wear their eye protection anymore because now they realized management is dead serious about this. Working safely must be a condition of employment.
James: I bet they didn't forget that analogy either. That'll stick with you.
Jim, here's the another one. “What should you look for in hiring a chemical hygiene officer?”
Jimmy: Okay. There are two things. Steve Oberg who was a EHS Manager to University of Nevada in Rhino called and this was Steve's question and it comes up all the time. And he said, “Do you know anybody? I said, “Sure.” I said, “What are you looking for?” He said, “I'm looking for two things – communication skills and people skills.” We can teach people the science but we can’t teach them how to play nice with each other.
I like to use the analogy of a windsock. A windsock at an airport doesn't tell you how to behave. If you take the time to look at a windsock, you learn the direction of the wind and the speed of the wind and it allows the pilot to operate the plane more safely.
I think of myself as a lab safety windsock. I don't people how to behave. Parents tell their children how to behave. Teachers help their students learn how to behave and supervisors are the ones that need to tell their employees that their behaviour is great or not great.
I want to be a lab safety adviser and tell people which way the wind is blowing. And I do this with a collection of over 5000 examples of laboratory accidents and those 500 fatalities. They are bright people. They need to decide who they want to grow up to be like.
James: Thanks, Jim. That's great advice. And actually I've got a follow-up to a previous question. I want to get to it. I think it's a good one. We mentioned employees and getting colleagues to buy in. What about students? What's a good way to keep undergraduate students safety conscious?
Jimmy: Yes. Good question. I like that. I often say to faculty member, teachers in schools and colleges I say, “Who writes the syllabus of the classes that you teach?” And the teachers will always say, “Why, I do of course.” And I say, “Right.” And I say, “Is there a section in your syllabus that has to do with the grading in your course?” And they say, “Yes, of course.” And I say, “Right. And do the two words ‘safety performance’ appear in your syllabus?” And the answer 95% of the time is no.
And I say to them, “Change it. No purchase order, no requisition.” Let's make it explicit in the syllabus that part of the way this course is graded is based on safety performance.
This is a contract with the students. Let's make it crystal clear that at least 5% or 10% or your – pick your number, whatever percentage it's going to be part of the grading rubric and if you don't get this part right you cannot pass the lab. And that needs to be explicit not implicit. And it wouldn't cost a penny to make that change and students would realize at that point that their reward system is based on working safely.
James: Makes sense. And you know, when looking at plans and lab safety plans and manuals that you described, can you sort of explain the difference between a chemical hygiene plan and a lab safety manual?
Jimmy: Yes. Sure. Remember before I mentioned that there are nine hazards – chemical, physical, biological, mechanical, noise, radiation, high/low pressure, electrical, stress? The lab safety manual needs to address all the policies for all nine hazards.
If you'd like to see a pretty good lab safety manual, you might want to go to the Texas ANM website tamu.edu and look under EHS section of the website. They've got their lab safety manual posted there.
The chemical hygiene plan that addresses only chemical hazards as required under the OSHA laboratory standard – the 1910.1450. LSI writes an awful lot of lab safety manuals and chemical hygiene plans for people and we review them and provide lots of constructive suggestions for it.
And I'll give you one as a bonus right here is look at the difference between those things where you say “must” and those things where you say “should” and make very sure that you mean what you're saying.
I have seen the lab safety manual for example for the Eli Lilly company put those two words right in the glossary in the front to make sure it's clear to employees exactly what “must” and “should” mean.
“Must” means you have no discretionary authority. You're going to do it this way or you don't do it at all. And “should” means you've got some discretionary authority and I think it's really important for management to look at the “musts” and the “should” and ask whether they mean it or not. Because if you're not going to enforce it, don't say must.
James: That's a great consideration with what choice, right. You don't want to be passive if it's mandatory. That leaves room for interpretation and that's going to be dangerous.
Here's another question. “What should we be looking for when carrying out safety inspections in labs?” You showed us that picture where 50 plus things are wrong. What are some examples that we should keep an eye?
Jimmy: Well, here's something that you should be looking for that people don't ordinarily think about. Think about opportunities to give praise, to thank people for doing a good job.
One of the things we'd like EHS departments to do when they've got a large number of labs and it takes them a year to go around and to inspect all of them, I'd like them to pick the best one of the month and have a senior administrator send them a thank you and a certificate.
And at the end of the year, I'd like the President of the organization to gather all 12 winners and everybody who works in those labs together for a luncheon and have the President thank them.
And then, I'd like that EHS department to nominate a principal investigator at the university who's the best that they've got because LSI is giving out $2,000 to the best lab safety program in a principal investigator's research group.
And thanks to software companies, Safety Stratus who has pledged a thousand dollars a year for five years and ourselves we have, there's $2,000 prize to give away.
What do you look for when you're looking for opportunities for improvement? You look for unsafe conditions where people might be hurt or property could be destroyed and you're looking for unsafe practices. If you’ve got policies in a safety manual in a chemical hygiene plan you want to look to see the people are actually following the policies.
I visited one university and as I walked around through the university on a tour nobody had any eye protector on and I was stunned. How a few people, anyone, I couldn't find anyone that happen to have $21 bills in my wallet and l said to myself, “Okay, I'm going to give away a dollar to the first person I find who's wearing eye protection.” And I really shocked a young man when I stuck a $1 bill in his lab coat pocket and said, “Thank you for wearing your eye protection.” And after two hours I had given away $2.
James: Not good enough.
Jimmy: Not good enough.
James: We’ve got enough time for about two more questions. So let's get this going and then we'll wrap things up here. We appreciate everyone staying on until the end. Great questions that have come in so far.
Is it true that labs are not required to have a hazardous communications plan and not a CHP is sufficient?
Jimmy: Yes and no, sorry.
Why I said yes and no? It's yes and no because number one not all labs are required to comply with OSHA at all. In some states for example, Massachusetts where the public sector is not covered under a state plan or state regulation. Those standards don't apply at all and they wouldn't have to do either of those two things. Should they? Yes.
I live in Wesley, Massachusetts, Welsey College and Babson College must comply because they are private. Mass Bay Community College is a public sector employer, a state organization and we are in the regulatory black hole.
Let's now move to those cases where you are covered under OSHA regulations like all the private sector employers in the United States are covered and many of the public sector, as well. You have to first meet the definition of what constitutes a laboratory to be under the lab standard.
There are four parts – lab scales, small quantities, multiple lab use, multiple chemicals or multiple procedures, not part of a production process or simulating a production process and standard safety equipment being used.
So if you satisfy the requirements to be considered a lab under the lab standard, at that point you comply with the lab standard the 1450 and the 1200 standard, the hazards communication standard will no longer be applying to you.
For example, what labs might not fall under this or at a production facility and you have a QC laboratory where you are heart of the production process and you are taking regular routine samples and your are doing no research, just repetitive analysis. It is not OSHA's intention to have that group covered under the lab standard and you would then have to follow the HASCOM standard.
James: Right. It's a very important clarification. Thank you, Jim. Good question, too. Alright, so finally, it looks like we're getting into over time here but we'll take one last question.
What's the best way to get rid of unwanted chemicals?
Jimmy: Well, I think a good answer would be call Triumvirate.
James: And yeah, a chemical disposal, also safety program planning and we're happy to follow-up with anyone who does want to dispose of unwanted chemicals.
And please look up for an email later, tomorrow with the materials presented today, a short survey. We'd appreciate your feedback on what you thought and how we can really improve and build on these webinar programs and training programs.
So, Jim, I think we'll wrap it up there. Do you have anything else to add before we sign off?
Jimmy: No, I just like to say thank you. I'm glad everybody was here to join us and thank you. And if you have any follow-up questions don't hesitate to contact the lab safety institute.
James: Very good. I’d like to thank you, Jim for presenting today and for the Lab Safety Institute for getting involved. I hope everyone that attended learned something new that will help you improve your own lab safety program.
So, with that, that concludes today's webinar. Again, please look out for an email from me with additional information on the survey and we appreciate your participation and your attention today.
Thanks very much and have a great day.