I find the tone of this "conversation" very disturbing. I can not believe that some of you are suggesting that there is a need to do a 'cost-benefit" analysis on the value of advocating for safety in laboratory activities versus "success" in your activities. You must be kidding!! I am embarrassed for you, your teachers and mentors and the institution employing you. Let me provide some back ground.
As a 7 year old kid I moved to Richland , WA to join my parents who were building the Hanford Engineering Works to produce Plutonium. I recently had occasion to review my fathers records and found a Certificate of Commendation August 6, 1945 from Secretary of War Stinson commending my father for his role in the production of the atomic bomb. I also found a memo dated August 24, 1945 from W S Carpenter , President of Du Pont, the company that designed and built the Hanford reactors and separation plant. I quote from that communication --"Reference has been made to the hazards which we thought might be involved. Largely because of the great care taken by all who worked on various projects to see that all possible safety measures were provided and rigidly observed, construction and ordinary operating accidents were held to a minimum. There have been no accidents due to hazards inherent in the process." I also located a pay stub for my father from that time period. Boldly written across it in red ink was the statement -- "Safety Pays!". I doubt that DuPont did a cost-benefit analysis to justify that statement.
My early contacts in the 1950s with Hanford scientists influenced me to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and to pursue a career investigating the toxicity of radionuclides, based on their radiological characteristics, and then later chemical toxicity, all as a basis for developing standards and work place practices protective of worker safety and environmental hazards. I had the good fortune to work under outstanding scientists at Hanford and the US Atomic Energy Commission. I recall several conversations with the late Glenn Seaborg. As you may recall he was awarded the Nobel prize for discovery of Pu-239. He proudly related sending the first 10 mg aliquot of Pu-239 to his colleague, Joe Hamilton at Berkeley, to evaluate its toxicity. He remembered the sad story of the Radium dial painters. One of my mentors at Hanford, Herbert M Parker, regularly recalled that radiation standards were grounded in human misfortune and we did not want it repeated. Later in my career, I was responsible (1966 - 1999) the Lovelace Inhalation Toxicology Research Institute in Albuquerque, NM. We worked under strict radiation and chemical standards and general work place standards. It was accepted, as a condition of employment, safety, health and environmental compliance comes first. As the President of the Institute I delegated to my senior EHS person the authority to "lock down" any operation or laboratory that was fully compliant with Health and Safety Standards.. I wish a few more Department Chairs and Presidents of Universities would follow that same lead.
Compliance with rigid Health , Safety and Environment rules is a cornerstone of successful research operations and fully compatible with success. Many of my colleagues have been recognized as leaders in their fields. I have personally received many honors for my scientific achievements including election to the National Academy of Medicine.
I think the time for debate about safety in any research operations has long passed. The time for the ACS and ALL of its members to strongly endorse safety in its broadest context is overdue. I find the clause relating to safety possibly getting in the way of success embarrassing and a legacy of the dark ages.
If any of the readers of this message or their students are ever harmed as a result of a failure to follow exemplary safety standards and practices I hope I can assist the plaintiff's lawyers suing you and your institution. You will not have a leg to stand on irrespective of the position of the ACS. I do hope the ACS leadership will recognize the time for debate over safety is past. It is time to endorse exemplary safety standards in ALL activities irrespective of whether they are conducted in the public or private sector and upgrade related teaching standards for safety in its broadest connotation.
Roger O. McClellan, DVM, MMS, DSc(Honorary)
Advisor, Toxicology and Human Health Risk Analysis
Diplomate- American Board of Veterinary Toxicology and American Board of Toxicology
Fellow- Academy of Toxicological Science, Society for Risk Analysis, American Thoracic Society, American Association for Aerosol Research, International Aerosol Research Assembly, Health Physics Society and American Association for Advancement of Science
Member- National Academy of Medicine
On Sunday, March 4, 2018 9:23 AM, "Stuart, Ralph" <Ralph.Stuart**At_Symbol_Here**KEENE.EDU> wrote:
> The most useful path forward would be to seek data and studies that answer the question: does "promoting safety", either through a regulatory or voluntary path, actually cost or save money? (A more sharply-focused version of his question would be: "Does promoting safety save lives?")
There is data on this and they generally support the idea that more prudent practices are safer over the long run for a large population. Scaling this conclusion down to a single lab focused on novel processes is difficult to do in a convincing way. But I believe that this is one reason industry is so interested in supporting safety education of the scientists they hire - businesses needs technologies that can scale up without creating new risks and this criteria is not part of today's academic education. We can see the impact of this lack of education playing out very rapidly in the IT world right now.
The big challenge I see in addressing the sentiment that "some people look at safety as an obstacle to success" in context of the ACS strategic plan is in the definitions of both "safety" and "success" are not included. In this context, they are used as buzzwords rather than defined concepts which can be addressed with data.
Thanks for the history on this, Dave.