Joint Safety Team hosts visit of U of Wisconsin, and Safety Workshop for High School Teachers

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (06/30/2022)—The Joint Safety Team (JST), a researcher-led organization focused on improving the safety culture in chemical laboratories at the University of Minnesota, has hosted two recent events.

On April 14, the Community Connections Committee (CCC) of the JST organized a visit with a group of undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire as part of the committee’s mission to involve the outside community in the safety conversation and introduce other audiences to the work of the JST.

The students, who are in the process of forming their own safety committee, joined JST lab walkthroughs, attended a department seminar with Professor Jen Heemstra, met with faculty, and spoke with JST members about their progress and questions. In their initial plan after the visit, the group aimed to improve signage across their department. They completed a Guide to Waste Collection & Disposal shortly after their visit, which they shared on Instagram.

On June 28-29, the JST hosted its first-ever safety Chemical Safety Workshop for high school teachers. Participants were introduced to the concept of safety culture and learned how to improve safety culture in their workplace through a series of presentations on waste handling, storage and disposal; liability; safer lecture demonstrations; and other topics. The workshop aimed to support teachers in identifying and managing potential safety issues that have not been assessed before.

“The past year has revealed the necessity of effectively discussing chemical safety in high school labs,” said CCC Chair Vilma Brandao, a PhD Candidate in the Buhlmann group. “The goal of the workshop was to help teachers develop more confidence in taking proactive control and transferring an appreciation for proper safety conduct to their students.” complemented Steven Butler, co-director who conceptualized the workshop.

The workshop was offered free of charge, thanks to grants from the American Chemical Society and PPG. Workshop participants were able to earn continuing education credits as well as 1-semester professional development credit through the Colorado School of Mines.

The Joint Safety Team (JST) consists of 5 committees, the CCC is the newest one composed of all graduate students and postdocs within the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Other interested graduate students or postdocs that would like to volunteer are welcome to participate, more information can be found on the website.