Integration is a Key to
University Lab Safety
CHAS Award Symposium
American Chemical Society
Washington, D.C., August 28, 2005
Steven G. Oberg, Ph.D.
University of Nevada, Reno
From worst to first
1995 - Chronic RCRA violations
District Court Consent Decree
• Binding independent audit
• Administrative reorganization
• Affirm department philosophy –
vow not to become the best possible EH&S program*
• Initiate enterprise model
2005 - Full compliance (chem, rad, bio, occupational)
Acknowledgement of peers
At the time, EH&S programs seemed to be doing
their best to put themselves external to the
university mission of teaching, research and
outreach. External means tolerated by faculty
and central administration like so many other
necessary (bureaucratic) evils.
Too much compliance makes you invisible.
We can do better.
Attract quality staff
Seek people who have personal and
professional ambitions that align with the
university mission, i.e. skills and
motivations that match up with teaching
and research faculty.
These self-starters will initiate projects or
collaborate with colleagues who are in the
business of creating new knowledge.
Integrate within the dept.
The bench is shallow, so staff members
have to depend on colleagues for mutual
Teams have to self-assemble again and
again to maintain a critical mass for each
new project. Nobody succeeds unless
Program infrastructure is developed and
shared for group benefit.
Integrate within the academic
and research process
Develop credibility and rapport with faculty
by creating opportunities to teach for-
credit courses, participate in grant
proposals, and publish.
EH&S and faculty collaborations solve
problems in ways that have broad
acceptance and staying power.
If permissible, serve on graduate student
Integrate within the university
Create and exercise specialty safety advisory
committees – ask these faculty to help define
policies and procedures.
Participate in campus committees to address
EH&S aspects that others would miss.
Convert data-rich EH&S activities into information
that can be used by central administration for
planning and decision making.
Lab safety accomplishments
Chemical Hygiene Plan Support of laboratory
Lab safety training operations (especially in
Lab assessments chemistry, chemical
Integrate IH support bioscience departments).
Haz waste tech support Risk assessments,
Lab Safety Committee ventilation/air quality,
Chemical inventory product recommendations,
Biosafety Manual emergency plans,
MOUA mechanisms committee participation,
Select Agent Program chemical storage, etc.
The ACS-CHAS Lab Safety
Program award is flattering
First of all it’s flattering to share any national
award with the likes of MIT.
It is especially flattering to be acknowledged by
the venerable American Chemical Society. To
consider members of this profession (many of
whom are university faculty) as our peers
validates the direction of our program and
provides inspiration to our staff.
• Thanks to the Chemical Health and Safety
section and their leadership for sponsoring this
• Thanks to colleagues who nominated our
program and to the site reviewer who verified the
• I especially thank Ben Owens and the Lab Safety
group, and the other EH&S staff members who
equally deserve this this bit of recognition.
Now meet the people on whose behalf I accept
Thank you all from the
2005 ACS-CHAS Award Winners