The JST began from a partnership focused on safety between Dow Chemical Company and the Departments of CHEM and CEMS at the University of Minnesota in April 2012. Through this partnership, the JST is able to learn and adapt the best practices from industry in order to improve the culture of safety in academia.
JST and the Minnesota Model was featured in box 4-2 in the National Academies Press publication on Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research. The JST model is explained in the Journal of Chemical Education article: Student Involvement in Improving the Culture of Safety in the Academic Laboratories
The mission of the JST is to increase safety awareness and improve the safety culture in the Departments of Chemistry (CHEM) and Chemical Engineering & Materials Sciences (CEMS) at the University of Minnesota. Partnering with The Dow Chemical Company in the past and with The Valspar Corporation more recently for examples, advice, and resources, the JST will work to develop a mindful and integrated safety culture in University of Minnesota laboratories. The JST consist of all Laboratory Safety Officers (LSOs) and a variety of methods will be used to promote lasting changes in the CHEM and CEMS departments. The JST has identified four areas that are essential to improving safety culture which include: Compliance, Awareness, Resources, and Education (CARE).
Our objective is to improve our culture of safety through CARE: Compliance, Awareness, Resources, Education. The JST does not create new policies; instead, the JST applies current resources, such as our departmental Chemical Hygiene Plans and material provided by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety (DEHS), to accomplish our initiatives.
An improved culture of safety at the University of Minnesota would include:
Compliance of minimum PPE requirements in all labs
Improved housekeeping of labs – no clutter, no unknown waste
Increased communication of safety incidents and accidents
Fully evaluated, up-to-date, and annually revised laboratory safe operating procedures
Zero accidents and incidents
The JST is composed of all LSOs from the CHEM and CEMS departments. We also welcome undergraduate, graduate, or postdocs volunteers wanting to improve the safety culture in academic laboratories. JST is organized into the following officer, committee, and sub-committee positions.
The JST has developed and integrated a variety of methods to improve the safety culture at the University of Minnesota including:
Implementing Safety Moments during departmental seminars and group meetings
Creating a standardized sign on laboratory doors which provides contact information, minimal PPE requirements, and hazards contained in that lab
Hold biannual student-led lab walkthroughs to expose LSOs to different laboratories and observe general safety concerns and practices
Organize designated cleanup weeks to help remove clutter and unknown chemicals in laboratories
Organize safety workshops to provide frequent and relevant training
Make large safety posters in high traffic areas of the CHEM and CEMS building
Created the JST website to provide resources and links for researchers