University of Notre Dame
Flashpoint - Risk Management & Safety
August 2021

Flashpoint -

Risk Management & Safety's quarterly lab safety newsletter bringing you pertinent safety information to aid in keeping our campus safe. In this issue:

New Dashboard for Lab Joint Assessment Schedule

A newTableau dashboard has been created detailing the lab joint assessment schedule by department and lab for this year's assessment cycle, which officially began July 1, 2021 and includes approximately 300 labs. The dashboard can be navigated using the filters along the top.

Similar to previous years, RMS will work with PIs and/or lab contacts to schedule and complete joint assessments. 

In addition to the schedule, an updated All in One Reference Document can be found on the RMS Laboratory Safety webpage. This document provides details regarding LISP Joint Assessment and BSL-2 Assessment questions, information on Safety Data Sheet (SDS) management, a summary of training requirements, and links to procedures, labels, forms, signage, common lab supplies, etc. The goal with its creation is to make it easier to find important Lab Safety resources.
Safety Alerts
At Notre Dame:
Lab-Related Incidents - There have been an influx of lab-related incidents leading to injury recently. Please remember to be mindful while conducting lab operations, always be aware of your surroundings, and anytime there is an incident or injury, no matter how small, report it to your supervisor.  Some examples of recent lab-related incidents are listed below. 
Chemical Exposure – several incidents occurred where lab personnel were exposed to chemical(s) used in their lab. Some were caused by splashes, inadequate vapor control, and inappropriate PPE being used.
    • Wear appropriate PPE rate for the chemical’s specific hazard(s). 
    • Be mindful of surfaces, edges, and fume hood sashes to avoid hitting chemical            containers on them, which creates splash hazards.  
    • Use extra caution around chemically contaminated sharps (needles, broken                glass, blades, etc.) and dispose in appropriate waste containers. 
    • Use the sash of the fume hood or ballistic shield as a barrier when disassembling        glassware. 
    • Double check chemical compatibility prior to adding chemical wastes into waste        containers to avoid incompatible materials from being mixed. 
Needlestick – a couple needlestick incidents occurred when using a syringe to re-suspend cells and when using a needle to administer chemicals. 
    • Avoid recapping as studies show recapping greatly increases the rate of                        needlestick incidents. 
    • Ensure used needle management is part of the lab SOP / protocol. 
    • Use safety needle / syringe systems whenever possible. 
    • Always conduct a risk assessment or job hazard analysis when scaling up                      experiments to account for safety gaps such as increasing the number of syringes        needed and not having appropriate used needle management in place.
Cuts from Glassware – occurred while cleaning glassware or glass / plastic lab supplies
    • Replace glassware whenever it becomes chipped, cracked or broken. 
    • Wear cut-resistant gloves whenever possible. 
    • Be cognizant of the amount of pressure you are applying while cleaning.
    • Use cleaning tools instead of your hands. 

Contact your RMS liaison or with any questions on these or other safety-related topics. View or print the safety alert here.

At Other Schools: 
Chemical Spill - Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA -  A building near the Georgia Tech campus was evacuated on May 13, following a chemical spill inside a laboratory. For more information, read here.
Welding Lab Fire - Tennessee's College of Applied Technology, Hartsville, TN - On Thursday, July 8, fire crews were called out after reports of an explosion in the TCAT welding shop. After arriving on the scene, it was determined that an acetylene tank had caught fire. For more information, read here.
Lab Fire - Decherd Elementary School, Decherd, TN - An electrical power strip was found to be the cause of a STEM lab fire in Decherd Elementary School. For more information, read here.

As a supervisor or training admin have you noticed staff or student training showing as “in progress” but are certain the course was completed?  A common solution might be to ask if they downloaded and reviewed the supplemental material.  This document is showing under the documents area on the course page.   Ask the trainee to sign into complyND and verify! Below is a graphic showing where the supplemental material is located on any training containing a document.

Safety History

Before the turn of the century, it was common for workers to endure painful and debilitating conditions as a result of working with various chemicals. Little was known about the dangers of these chemicals until the U.S. Bureau of Labor began publishing graphic case studies of fatalities and injuries related to certain trades. One of the worst chemical culprits was white phosphorus used to make matches. 
Over time, exposure to white phosphorus caused workers’ jaws to rot. The disease, known as phosphorus necrosis or “phossy jaw,” eventually damaged vital organs and became fatal if left untreated.

A 1910 Bureau of Labor study on the condition prompted the industry to develop a new way to make matches that eliminated the hazard. 

Hazardous chemical exposure caused many other serious illnesses throughout history, including lead poisoning, coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, or “black lung disease,” and, in more modern times, asbestosis and mesothelioma.  

Following WWII, the Manufacturers Chemical Association began publishing chemical safety data sheets, and the U.S. Department of Labor published a series of profiles on dangerous chemicals. 

The modern material safety data sheet was developed later in the 1960s, and first used in maritime safety regulations. By 1987, all employers were required to provide information regarding the chemicals used in the workplace. 
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