Responsibilities of Chemistry Professionals and their Organizations
No chemistry professional works in isolation. Any effective Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) program is a partnership between individual chemistry professionals and the organizations for which they work.
Partners should have clear expectations of each other. To that end, the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Chemical Safety and the Division of Chemical Health and Safety jointly authored this outline of prudent expectations roles and responsibilities for both chemistry professionals and their organizations.
- Responsibilities of Chemistry Professionals
- Responsibilities of Organizations Employing Chemistry Professionals
Responsibilities of Chemistry Professionals
Chemistry professionals have ethical and legal responsibility to work with chemicals safely. They:
- Protect themselves, their communities, and the wider environment from the risks associated with the hazards of chemicals
- Address safety and health issues when contributing to the scientific literature.
Chemistry professionals need to develop competency in evaluating hazards, conducting assessments, and mitigating the risks of those hazards.
- In this process, chemistry professionals need to work with other EH&S stakeholders when planning for particularly hazardous activities and for potential emergencies.
- In this work, chemistry professionals need familiarity with and access to electronic sources of safety information, including technical data, broader safety literature, and literature on organizational culture.
Chemistry professionals must actively participate in their organizational culture concerning the safe practice of chemistry. They:
- Need to understand and observe policies and procedures at their institutions
- Must contribute to the continuous improvement of their organization’s safety programs.
Safety skills need to be included as part of the formal education of chemistry professionals.
- Safety is not incidental to chemical education, but an essential component of how chemistry professionals work.
- Students need to learn how to incorporate both technical and cultural safety considerations in their work.
Chemistry professionals assume a crucial role in providing chemical safety information to impacted parties.
- This role includes providing information appropriately to support employer and professional organization communication with the general public around health and safety issues.
Responsibilities of Organizations Employing Chemistry Professionals
Organizations must recognize and encourage the essential connection between scientific excellence and excellence in safety.
- Safety attitude and activities must be important parts of performance evaluation and career development.
- Service on safety committees or in safety-oriented positions should be recognized and rewarded.
Organizations should expect that managers, faculty/Principal Investigators, and chemistry professionals:
- Understand their EH&S responsibilities
- Are empowered to assure a safe environment.
Organizations need to provide appropriate resources and support for safety programs as the science they use evolves, with particular attention during times of rapid change in science and laboratory practice.
Organizations need to set clear expectations that new chemistry professionals be knowledgeable in and committed to safe practices and provide specific training that supports these expectations.
- In academia, information on policies and procedures needs to be effectively communicated to teaching and research professionals, support staff, and students
- Buy-in and personal responsibility need to be supported by a proactive safety culture
Organizations should provide:
- Effective emergency response capabilities
- Consistent promotion of responsible recycling and waste disposal
- Consideration of concepts such as sustainability and inherent safety
- Good safety programs include a commitment to protect the environment
- Uncontrolled or intentional release of hazardous material is unacceptable anywhere in the chemistry enterprise