Department of Plant and Soil Sciences

Laboratory Safety Committee

Meeting Minutes

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Robin Elliott Announcements

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Spring 2001 March 23, 2001



Attendees: Jerry Hendricks (Chair), Thomas Evans, Jeff Fuhrmann, Markus Grafe (replacing Stefan Hunger), Christina Hamilton (replacing Caroline Golt), Maria Pautler, and Robin Elliott (OHS).

Absent: Lucille Short is no longer committee member and recording secretary as she recently took a job in Civil Engineering. Her replacement in the PLSC department will be her replacement on the Safety Committee.

The minutes were taken by Maria Pautler.

The meeting was called to order at 10:05 AM.

Introductions were made of new/replacement committee members.


Old Business

All laboratory signs have been taken care of for the time being.

Three chairs have been installed by the water fountains on each floor of Worrilow Hall to provide a lounge area. A small table for each floor is to be added. Jerry had spoken to Greg Rumsey about installing small metal lockers above the chairs, but Bernie Alexander, OHS Fire Protection Engineer, doesn't like the idea. Robin will ask Bernie about the matter.

The liquid nitrogen tank is in place and is being used.

The safety inspection of Townsend Hall done by Maria Pautler and Lucille Short in January 2001 found most checklist items were satisfactory.


New Business

In March 2001, there was an incident in Worrilow Hall where a researcher mixed seven chemicals together, intending to dispose of them. The researcher's intentions were good in minimizing chemical waste, but the effort was misguided. Organic, water-reactive, and corrosive chemicals, which are incompatible, were mixed in a plastic bag. The chemicals ignited; OHS responded. Robin wrote an e-mail about the incident and Jerry confirmed that he distributed it to the department members.

Jerry spoke about the two activities the Safety Committee conducts in the spring:

The first is a fire drill of Townsend (TNS) and Worrilow (WOR) Halls. Jerry will speak to Bernie Alexander, who will schedule the fire drill. Then, Safety Committee members will volunteer to take one floor of a building and make sure everyone evacuates once the alarms are ringing.

The second is laboratory inspections. Once a year, the Safety Committee conducts the inspections which are usually done as self-inspections by lab occupants. Jerry handed out the Laboratory Inspection Guidance Document then asked committee members to sign up for the different labs. The assignments are as follows:

Leslie York-Hubbard

302 WOR, 304 WOR, 306 WOR, 307 WOR

Tom Evans

149/150 TNS, 125 WOR

Maria Pautler

151 TNS, 201 & 204 WOR

Jeff Fuhrmann

101 & 104 WOR, 210 WOR

Chris Hamilton

110 WOR, 214 & 215 WOR

Markus Grafe

105 WOR, 212 WOR

Jerry Hendricks

112 WOR, 216 WOR

The PLSC Safety Committee decided to pass on inspecting Townsend Hall, Worrilow Hall, the Farmhouse, and Fischer Greenhouse. Jerry will see if the Animal and Food Sciences Safety Committee will do the inspections.

OHS Announcements by Robin Elliott


Robin asked about the status of the audit. Jerry said that some things are still outstanding. Future audits of different departments will focus on root problems of safety of the department, then move on to specific problems of individual labs, one at a time. Quarterly lab inspections look at specific problems anyway.

Leslie York-Hubbard is looking to get a flammable cabinet for 205 Worrilow Hall. Organic solvents need to be put into the cabinet. Using glass alcohol burners are not recommended but Leslie did not make a new recommendation. Both use and storage of alcohol burners are issues. Jerry hasn't heard back from Leslie on these issues. Tom Evans and Jeff Fuhrmann commented on the difficulty of using a flame near a beaker of alcohol; petri dish lids are nearby to put out fires if need be. Copland jars with tops are also used. Robin will check with the Biology Department to see what is used there.

Robin noted Dartmouth College's alleged incident of two graduate students dying after being exposed to a chemical in the lab. She will be meeting with Dartmouth's safety director about the validity of this report. She reminded people to always consult the MSDS of chemicals they use for proper handling directions.

The University now has a lightning safety policy in place for outdoor events. People are reminded to have procedures to warn event attendees about evacuation/sheltering procedures in the event of a lightning storm.

Robin mentioned that the use of back belts is not recommended for preventing back injury. Jerry informed her that PLSC department members had been sent an e-mail about this.

OSHA had written an ergonomic policy, effective January 16, 2001, but this was recently suspended by the Bush administration because it conflicted with workman's comp policies, etc.

Robin expected that the MIS Lab Management Program would have been on line by now, but it is not. The Chemical Redistribution part is somewhat up and running.

Transporting chemicals in vehicles is still a problem.

Robin showed an accident report in January 2001 involving Sean Maguire. The committee thought this must be an hourly worker in Fischer Greenhouse and knew nothing about the incident.

The next meeting will be tentatively on June 13 at 10 am in 156 Townsend Hall.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:55 AM.

Respectfully submitted, Maria Pautler