Safety Committee Report, Spring 2017

The Safety Committee has been meeting regularly at national ACS meetings and working on various tasks.  Last summer we finished a revision of “Safety Guidelines for Chemical Demonstrations.”  We are working on plans for widespread distribution of these Guidelines.  They are posted on the CHED website under the Safety link near the bottom of the “Committee” tab”:

We continue to explore with the Exams Institute the possibility of revising the 1997 Exam in Chemical Health and Safety.  If you are using the (someone outdated) 1997 exam and are interested in using a revised version, please let me know.

In the June 27, 2016 issue of C&ENews, there was an essay by Tom Connelly (ACS Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer) on “The ACS’s Role in Safety.”  In this essay, Dr. Connelly invited comments about questions he posed regarding safety.  Part of this effort was a prelude to the consideration of including “safety” as a Core Value in the ACS 2017 Strategic Plan.  The CHED Safety Committee drafted a lengthy response to this request, the content was endorsed by the CHED Executive Committee, and the response was submitted.  (The Safety Committee response is posted on the Safety Committee website and the ACS Strategic Plan is at: )  Responses were also drafted by CHAS and the Committee on Chemical Safety (CCS) (perhaps among others).  Those of us in ACS “safety community” at large were very pleased to see that “safety” in now listed as a Core Value in the 2017 ACS Strategic Plan!  There are other mentions of safety in the various Goals and Challenges/Opportunity statements in the Plan (along with some dramatic statements about chemical education!)

The inclusion of the Safety as a Core Value of the ACS is the culmination of a series of events over the past several years.   Most chemical educators know about the tragic events at UCLA and Texas Tech.  These incidents, among others such as the multitude of demonstration tragedies involving methanol fires in recent years, prompted the CCS to produce documents on safety culture, hazard assessment, and two documents about learning objectives for high school and post-secondary chemical safety instruction.  (See links below.)   Further, there was recently a workshop held to explore the use of the RAMP safety protocol in high school laboratories for use by teachers and students.  All in all, there is much happening in the world of safety in chemical education with much work yet to be done.

The RAMP protocol is described in the booklets (3,4) listed just above and is taken from:  “Laboratory safety for Chemical students,  2nd edition, R.H. Hill, D. C Finster, Wiley, 2016

Although not an activity related to the Safety Committee, the CCS will soon be releasing the 8th edition of “Safety in Academic Laboratories” (SACL).  This booklet has seen wide use over the past three decades.  Chemistry departments who have used SACL in the past should visit the CCS website to learn more about the 8th edition.

Finally, the ACS has recently decided to require more overt statements about chemical hazards and risks in all ACS journals.  The exact format is a work in progress and may vary a bit from journal to journal.  Our Journal of Chemical Education already requires such a statement but more specificity in content might emerge.

Dave Finster
Chair, Safety Committee

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