The University of Colorado Denver l Anschutz Medical Campus Environmental Health and Safety team is working to raise awareness, offer training and monitor research lab safety compliance as part of an overall safety effort.

Nearly a dozen students participated in a training session offered today on the Denver Campus with Auraria in cooperation with the Auraria Higher Education Center’s health and safety staff. The session was led by Auraria Hazardous Materials Specialist/Compliance Assistance Officer Deb Witt (pictured above).

CU Denver’s Experiential Learning Center worked with Witt and Ethan Carter, PhD, director, CU Denver Department of Environmental Health & Safety to organize the training.

In recent communication with university lab personnel, Carter noted two recent cases that highlight the importance of proper training for reasearchers and lab workers.

Last October, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released a report on a 2010 laboratory explosion at Texas Tech University that resulted in serious injury a graduate student.

On Dec. 27, 2011, the Los Angeles District Attorney filed felony charges against a professor and the University of California Regents for violations of labor laws in the death of a researcher that occurred almost three years earlier at UCLA — the result of a laboratory accident in which a pyrophoric chemical ignited causing fatal burns. If convicted, the professor involved could face prison and UCLA up to $1.5 million in fines on each of the three counts. This criminal case may be the nation’s first stemming from an academic laboratory accident.

The Chemical Safety Board is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. It also reviews the effectiveness of agency regulations and enforcement activities. Though the Chemical Safety Board has no regulatory authority, the Board’s findings must be taken seriously.

There are three phases to the CU lab safety program:

(1) In-person laboratory safety training class, typically conducted at the downtown campus but is also offered at the Anschutz Medical Campus;

(2) completion of online safety training (actual courses required to be determined either at the in-person training or based on input from assigned laboratory);

(3) completion of on-the-job training during the first week of the laboratory rotation.

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