In February of 2018, ACS President Peter Darhout sponsored the first ACS Safety Summit since adopting "safety" as one of the Society's core values. ACS governance, technical units, and external stakeholders were invited to jump-start discussions surrounding the following topics:
- How to identify, connect, and coordinate current ACS efforts and expertise in the area of chemical safety, particularly as it applies to safety culture in academic laboratories.
- Formulation of future ACS strategy to demonstrate the Society's leadership in advancing a culture of safety in the chemical enterprise.
- Ways to engage ACS stakeholders and external experts in the chemical safety conversation to promote and ethos of safety.
- Identification of tools, opportunities, and partnerships that ACS can leverage to support safety cultures.
ACS Strategic Goals, through a Safety Lens
Based on the broad and vast experiences of summit participants, we were able to formulate specific safety strategies to address ACS's overall goals, as identified in the Strategic Plan.
The following lists safety strategies associated with each of ACS's Strategic Goals.
Goal 1: Provide Information Solutions
Safety Strategy: Information/Research Support: ACS should leverage its current resources to become the authoritative laboratory chemical safety information source.
The following specific strategies were identified:
- Identify gaps in chemical information
- Connect, organize, disseminate and make available a variety of chemical safety information types (host, index, etc.) in an easily searchable way.
- Develop a platform that makes lessons learned, near misses, incident reports, and case studies readily available to the chemistry community.
- Collect safety moments, which can be peer-reviewed and indexed, from the communities around the ACS to help reinforce a culture of safety.
- Create a searchable collection of safety moments for use in technical gatherings.
- Provide free copies of the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety to all chemistry departments.
- Establish a clearinghouse of laboratory chemical safety experts, who could respond to safety questions or recommend consultants for more complex questions, as an ACS service to the community.
Goal 2: Empower Members and Member Communities
Safety Strategy: Partnerships/Communities. ACS should create strategic partnerships and communities across disciplines to empower chemistry practitioners through development of chemical safety skills.
The following specific strategies were recommended:
- Identify strategic partners to support goals for an ACS Center for Laboratory Chemical Safety and formalize them through Memoranda of Understanding.
Convene a Safety Summit for these partners to discuss the possible synergies and areas for collaborations.
- Lead an effort for Federal funding agencies to require safety information on all research proposals.
- Create online platforms and workshops for sharing best practices and enabling continuous dialogue about safety. (see bullet 2 under Goal #1)
- Regularly bring together members from different parts of the ACS (students, faculty, environmental health and safety experts, and industrial members) to create chemical safety learning communities.
Goal 3: Support Excellence in Education
Safety Strategy: ACS should support excellence in safety education by creating and disseminating safety content that would enable integrating safety knowledge throughout the entire chemistry curriculum.
The following specific strategies were identified:
- Integrate safety into existing ACS education programs, such as workshops for new faculty, public outreach activities, Student Chapters, and High School Chemistry Clubs.
- Develop safety specific content that could be integrated into the classroom curricula and connected to the Next Generation Science Standards.
- Develop a variety of resources using active learning strategies and technology (workshops, multimedia, online learning, flipped classrooms, etc.)
- Develop safety exams and other skill assessment strategies.
- Establish an effective ACS awards program recognizing the best safety practices in ACS programs and educational activities.
- Develop and curate safety information appropriate to teaching laboratories, research activities, and managing laboratory groups and departments. (see bullets 2-5, Goal #1)
- Create partnerships that enable transfer of industrial safety practices to academia so students graduate with a safety mindset and safety skills, making them ready for industrial employment.
Goal 4: Communicate Chemistry's Value
Safety Strategy: Develop and execute a progressive safety communication strategy and associated plan that establishes ACS as the authority for laboratory chemical safety.
These specific short-, mid- and long-term strategies have been identified:
- Define how safety as a core value connects to professionalism and ethics and establish a public platform for explaining these principles to a variety of audiences.
- Develop a communication plan that defines messaging applicable to targeted audiences, along with methods for measuring effectiveness. For example, this could be done through an ACS-wide contest to increase visibility and maximize engagement.
- Develop messaging to make safety visible throughout the Society. Elements of these messages may include:
- Create a brand and tagline.
- Develop a template with safety moments and promote its use during all programs at the ACS national and regional meetings.
- Equip the ACS Mole mascot with a safety message (beyond goggles and lab coat)that can be shared at national and regional meetings and other public events.
- Promote existing ACS safety resources through the ACS Safety website and a variety of other activities.
- Develop talking points that enable Society leaders to advocate “safety as a core value”.
- Develop safety leadership training to be included as part of ACS’s Leadership Development Program.