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Estimate: Academic Labs 11 Times More Dangerous Than Industrial Counterparts 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the will-I-live-to-take-the-test? dept.
Jim_Austin writes "Academic science labs are generally far less safe than labs in industry; one estimate says that people working in academic labs are 11x more likely to be hurt than their industrial counterparts. A group of grad students and postdocs in Minnesota decided to address the issue head-on. With encouragement and funding from DOW, and some leadership from their department chairs, they're in the process of totally remaking their departments' safety cultures."
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Estimate: Academic Labs 11 Times More Dangerous Than Industrial Counterparts

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  • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Friday March 07, 2014 @04:15AM (#46426313)
    Possibly valid, but the estimate in question seems to only be based in a remark by Dow Chemical's CTO. Not exactly the kind of thing that you'd expect to be news alone. In fact, the article is about the safety procedures they've implemented at University of Minnesota in conjunction with Dow, not a comparison between industry and academia as the title implies.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Friday March 07, 2014 @04:49AM (#46426377) Homepage

    A group of grad students and postdocs in Minnesota decided to address the issue had-on.

    Well, that typo could've been worse.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Friday March 07, 2014 @06:10AM (#46426549)

    No. An over simplification of the matter. The reality is when I was at university there was no safety messages from the faculty, absolutely nothing from on high. Oh, we were told to wash our hands after working with solder because it wasn't lead free and to not put it in our mouth but that is it.

    First day in industry, fume extractors, safety glasses, soldering irons with deadman switches in case they were left on absolutely no use of a knife without wearing some gloves.

    This isn't students not following safety procedures, this is no safety procedures existing. The head of our school stood right next to me while I was stripping wires by holding the wire between my thumb and a very sharp knife, nothing was said. When a student heated a wire under tension the semester I left and it flicked molten solder in his eye, nothing happened. At my work the HSE team would have lost their collective shits.

  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Friday March 07, 2014 @06:18AM (#46426563)

    Ahh yes the old blame the worker. Sorry but I've witnessed accidents happen at uni that simply wouldn't happen in industry due to some very simple safety guidelines such as put on safety glasses while soldering. It seemed really silly to me when I got out of uni that people wore glasses / goggles to solder, but it didn't seem to silly a semester after I graduated when I heard a student managed to fling solder in his eye.

    The problem is two fold:
    a) students are quite gungho when it comes to their work and will quickly take shortcuts because they don't know any better or don't have the right tools, example: I didn't see a wire stripper till I got to industry, I used to do it by pressing the wire to a knife using my thumb and I got many cuts as a result.
    b) complete lack of protective gear. You piss off the idea of PPE because it's been applied too haphazardly by HSE idiots who think protective gear should be worn everywhere at all times, but that is no excuse for not wearing it when you are actually doing potentially dangerous work or working in a potentially dangerous area.

    The whole ground breaking research stuff is a load of crap. There's just as much if not more ground-breaking research in industry as there is in a university lab. There needs to be a middle ground.

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