...Engaging in best safety practices must be an ongoing process, integrated into the daily activities of laboratory personnel. Unhappily, chemistry faculty members today are not often aware of what constitutes good safety practices. It is a skill that is being lost as many knowledgeable chemists leave research labs for other opportunities or retire. And new faculty members under today’s pressures vary widely in their degree of commitment to maintaining their safety skills and helping improve departmental safety.
It has been said that the greatest hazard in an industrial laboratory is a fresh chemistry Ph.D. graduate. But our up-and-coming chemists are not our only concern. It is similarly argued that the greatest hazard in a university laboratory is a tenured faculty member who has never been involved in a serious accident. Some of the recent high-profile accidents attest to both of those maxims.
The lack of a shared enthusiasm can limit the effectiveness of our safety programs. The concept of a “culture” of safety must survive and must be adopted by all who are involved in ensuring the safety of chemistry laboratories and in guiding our coworkers to safer and more fulfilling lives.The concept that new Ph.D. grads are especially hazardous that's an interesting idea (i.e. credentialed enough not to get supervision, not experienced enough to be completely safe), but I'd like to see some statistical evidence before I agree completely. (I am sure the Dow/DuPont EH&S departments have those numbers.)