Chemical and Physical Safety

What is safety? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines safety as: 

  1. freedom from harm or danger; the state of being safe
  2. the state of not being dangerous or harmful

In light of recent accidents in industry and academia, both the American Chemical Society and the American Physical Society have increased their focus on safety. 

Safety is a positive value - it prevents injuries, saves lives, and improves productivity and outcomes. When safety is actively practiced and is regarded as a critical core value [...] it bestows a sense of confidence and caring in all of the people who work there.

- American Chemical Society, Committee on Chemical Safety. Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions; Washington, DC, 2012

The American Physical Society recognizes the importance of proper training and safety standards within the laboratory environment. The statement below mentions researchers, specifically, but should be interpreted to include students and staff members as well.

It is essential that all researchers have training that prepares them for the hazards and possible emergencies that they may encounter in the course of their work, that all laws and regulations relating to safety are adhered to, and that best practices be employed when there are hazards. This means that there should be compliance with all accepted safety standards.

 -American Physical Society website, (accessed 02 August 2016)

Safety plays a very important role in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. The safety of all visitors, students, faculty, and staff is at the forefront of all activities performed in the department. As such, it is department policy to provide a safe environment for all persons involved in laboratory work by controlling and/or eliminating all recognized hazards. Department staff and faculty will clearly indicate hazards associated with a particular assignment to all students and visitors. However, the student is responsible for being safety conscious and for adhering to any and all safety instructions provided. 

All students and visitors are expected to abide by the department rules and any instructions given by department faculty and staff.


Finally, we should all strive to remember the following:

"Doing things safely is not merely the right way to work - it is the only way."

-ACS, Committee on Chemical Safety. Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories, 7th ed.; Washington, DC, 2003; Vol. 1.