By Alice Young
As a TTU faculty member, you know your research and creative work better than anyone else—and you share a core responsibility to teach students to recognize and assess the risks of their research with you.
Who can you turn to for assistance as you and your trainees plan your work? Your chair and dean are key resources for space and major infrastructure needs. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) staff can provide assistance and consultation about minimizing hazards and risks in labs, studios and field sites.
EH&S staff are available to work with you:
- as you set up your lab or studio.
- as you plan a new project or start working with a new material. For example, they can help you answer questions such as,
- Is there a way to minimize exposure to fumes or particles?
- Is a new hoist braced in the best way?
- Can we make a project “greener” by switching to a different type or amount of chemical?
- How should we store flammable chemicals in the studio as students are trained?
Don’t, however, look at EH&S as being “responsible for safety.” The university has tasked EH&S with the responsibility for campus-wide compliance with environmental regulations and occupational health and safety regulations. To achieve that goal, EH&S is responsible for providing consultation to faculty on best practices and how to meet the many state, federal and agency regulations that affect faculty and student work. They are resources to help determine if chemicals and other materials are stored correctly. They provide management of chemical and biological wastes. They can help you determine if you and your students are wearing correct personal protective equipment, such as closed-toed shoes while working around corrosive chemicals, or steel-toed boots around cattle or car engines on hoists. They can consult with you and your students as you assess the hazards and risks of a new project or of scaling up a current experiment.
There are other resources available to faculty and staff on laboratory safety, including:
- Dow Lab Safety Academy (please note you’ll have to sign in to the Dow website)
- American Chemical Society’s report: Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories