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Duquesne Safety Initiative

History of the Duquesne Safety Initiative

The Duquesne Safety Initiative grew out of the Dow Safety Initiative, a partnership between Dow Chemical Corporation, the University of Minnesota, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and Penn State University, to change the safety culture in academic research laboratories. The Dow Safety Initiative began in 2012 and was publicized at the Council for Chemical Research (CCR) meeting in May of that year.

The Duquesne Safety Initiative began modestly when the Department Chair returned from the 2012 CCR meeting and formed the Chemistry Department's Safety Committee, which included a student member. At the committee's suggestion, the Department began its Annual Spring Cleaning to reduce clutter, rid the Department of excess chemicals and hazardous waste, and perform general cleaning.

The Chair subsequently invited Katie Hurley, a graduate student from the University of Minnesota Chemistry Department's Joint Safety Team, to give a departmental seminar at Duquesne in January 2014. The Department's graduate students soon formed an advisory committee of their own, the Student Safety Committee, and took the initiative to make the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry a safer place.

By (1) having "safety moments" before every departmental seminar, (2) distributing safety signage to post throughout the Department, (3) publishing a safety newsletter, and (4) performing inspections of research laboratories to advise each other on best safety practices, the Student Safety Committee began to change the safety culture in our Department and across the Duquesne campus. The resources they developed and information they found are described here.