Safety Committee Comments, Spring 2021

Amid the ongoing educational adjustments associated with COVID-19, safety continues to be an aspect of chemistry instruction. We need to think about current issues, such as “what are the safety issues associated with encouraging remote experimentation?” or “how do we modify our labs for different enrollment and interaction restrictions?” If we have time and energy, there are also issues where a little thought now might prevent safety issues later, such as “are our instrumentation and chemicals being maintained in safe conditions?” or “with our decreased lab usage, are excess quantities of expired chemicals or waste being stored?”. One high school teacher came back from about six months of being kept off-campus to find their lab filled with boxes of chemicals brought to the school by a retiring middle school teacher – an extra challenge to getting the space ready for instruction. We also know that, in upcoming years, we may see an even wider spread of preparedness in the students coming in to our classrooms – for academic work, hands-on work, and group interactions.

So what kind of resources might be available to you to help with those issues? The six videos prepared for high schools are still receiving positive reviews ( The recently released Foundations of Chemical Safety and Risk Management for Chemistry Students ( free for ACS members!) is designed for second year chemistry students and has a lot of excellent content. More resources are currently under development, and the ACS Safety website is in the process of being redesigned, so check back often to see what is being added.

The DivCHED Safety Committee is also working on a range of projects at the intersection of safety and education. One in particular that deserves highlighting is continuing work, in partnership with the Committee on Chemical Safety, to develop a plan to collect and use Lessons Learned episodes in educational settings. The Safety Committee meets at each National Meeting, seeking to pursue its vision of education that embeds accurate chemical safety instruction at all educational levels and implement its mission to provide resources and strategies to chemical and science educators in order to prepare chemists and others to function safely while using chemicals.  Anyone interested in safety education and interested in getting involved is welcome to attend our committee meetings at the National Meetings, or contact the Committee co-chairs and we will try to connect you with appropriate people and projects. We will be reaching out to DivCHED members to ask for input about your interests and needs, so please contribute if you receive an invitation to respond.