Thursday, January 5, 2012

#SheriSangji ripple effects: Universities adjusting to new realities

Interesting ripple effects from the charging of Professor Patrick Harran in the death of Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji at UCLA:
  • A major R1 institution has instituted severe penalties for not wearing lab coats. 
  • Rumblings of prominent professors instituting changes to lab protocols and reviewing procedures
Any other interesting responses from professors, groups and/or universities (or companies and supervisors) in reaction to the prosecution of Professor Harran is welcome at chemjobber -at- gmaildotcom or via DM on Twitter at @Chemjobber. 

11 comments:

  1. And those "severe penalties" would be...?

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  2. The uni in question suspends from lab for 30 days if found without PPE, three strikes and you're out.

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  3. Chemjobber, how about a list of recommendations you'd like to make about improving academic lab safety? For instance, i would like group meetings to include safety discussions about ongoing/upcoming reactions taken as seriously as mechanism discussions.

    (And a belated Happy New Year!)

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  4. Thanks! And a good idea. (Happy New Year to you, too!)

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  5. Bad wolf! You stole the subject of my next post, though it is something I've brought up before in blog comments/discussion. I completely agree that this should be done, especially when you consider people use group meetings to review the literature. Why not throw in a couple of extra slides per group meeting

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  6. Hey, the more the merrier! I'd like to see more and better ideas than the PPE that everyone jumped on (although that's a start).

    And happy new year's to you too, Paul!

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  7. It kinda bothers me that it was not the accident but criminal charges that prompted change.

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  8. Pegleg, that bothers me, too, though sadly it makes sense. At the end of the day, whatever it takes to make the lab safer is fine with me, even if it's just my advisor being terrified of being arrested.

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  9. Same exact thought here, Cap'n.

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  10. @ heavymetalchemist

    "Whatever it takes?"

    I'm reminded of a story out of Bayer chemistry a while back, where in order to use sodium cyanide, you needed your bosses express written permission, and HIS (or her) Bosses's written permission.

    Every time you wanted to use it.

    Now, there's no doubt sodium cyanide is dangerous. And no doubt that this likely reduced the number of cyanide injuries. But at a massive cost to productivity.

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  11. With Bayer, perhaps it's a different story, where by that point people have some amount of training that constitutes "Preparedness for the Laboratory." However, even at the best graduate schools, we have first years who have more or less experience than one another, different levels of bravery, and different levels of common sense. Surely, these qualities are all honed with experience, but there are certainly various skill levels-and deficiencies-within younger students. Honestly, if, before using a dangerous reagent, I had to get an older graduate student's permission and notify my advisor, I'd do it in a heartbeat, because it means that someone knows what I'm doing and is both ready to A) ensure that I have the skills needed to properly use the reagent and is B) aware of what will need to be done, should I yell out for help.

    Remember, Sheri Sangji was a brilliant wet-behind-the-ears chemist, and an accident still happened. I'll agree with you wrt industrial settings, but in an academic setting, I think that any loss to productivity from ensuring safety is both a valid learning experience and absolutely necessary.

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