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New Contributor II

C&EN Column: Leading change through a culture of safety

Leading change through a culture of safety

by Peter K. Dorhout, ACS President

I’d like to begin this Comment with a safety message: Many of you are aware that I am a hobbyist woodworker. With that hobby comes a certain risk for injury. Even with all the safeguards in place and proper use of techniques for ripping boards, a guide block slipped on a board I was cutting on my table saw, and two fingers on my left hand suffered minor cuts. If you were at the 2018 Northeast Nanomaterials Meeting in June, you probably remember seeing me wearing bandages.

I talked about my injury with woodworking colleagues and assessed how we could conceive of better, safer methods for making these types of cuts in the future. We also discussed how we should all have first-aid equipment available in our woodworking shops to improve the response to an accident should one occur. We applied RAMP to the situation and are turning a negative outcome around and making our work safer. (RAMP is an acronym for the four elements of the chemical safety process: Recognize the hazard, assess the risk, minimize and manage risk, and prepare for emergencies.)

This culture of safety doesn’t apply to just what we do in our vocation but how we think and act everywhere. At the fall ACS national meeting in Boston, I’ll be cosponsoring a presidential symposium with the Division of Chemical Health & Safety (CHAS), “Moving the Safety Values of the ACS Forward.” This symposium will focus on how members have been working together on the recommendations of the ACS Safety Summit that we held in February.

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