Our department chair, Dr. John Flake started the ChE Lab Safety Leadership Team
to promote a culture of safety in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering. The
team consists of graduate students from each research group. We meet monthly to inspect
the experimental labs and discuss any observed hazards. The goal of the group is to
proactively handle safety hazards rather than reactively address them after an incident.
Traditionally, safety is the responsibility of the PI and is merely followed
by the people working under them. However, with the involvement of graduate students,
there is a shift from simply following rules that keep us safe to understanding why
things are done a certain way. There is also a shift in responsibility from a single
person to every person that steps foot in the lab.
Additionally, by having a group of peers walk through each lab, the safety culture
becomes friendlier and less intimidating. The goal is not to reprimand or punish.
Rather, it is to encourage a positive, safe culture. This way mistakes can be discussed,
near misses can be addressed and questions can be asked without the fear of a negative
Pictured from left: Phillip Brahana, Hannah Hymel, Xiaoshen Bai, John Cal Hendershot,
Kelly Cohen, MaCayla Caso and Maharram Jabrayilov