Pilot program will leverage key elements of Dow’s industry-leading practices to help enhance university laboratory safety, reinforcing the company’s commitment to advancing scientific research at leading U.S. universities
MIDLAND, Mich.—May 22, 2012—The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and The Pennsylvania State University are expanding their strategic partnership by launching a pilot program to increase safety awareness and practices in the university’s Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. The program will leverage key elements of Dow’s best-in-class practices to help elevate university laboratory safety.
In April, Dow announced a similar safety partnership pilot program with the University of Minnesota. This new partnership with Penn State reinforces Dow’s commitment to stimulate collaborative innovation with U.S. universities. Dow announced in October 2011 it would invest $25 million per year for 10 years among 11 academic institutions, including Penn State, to strengthen research in scientific fields important to Dow and to the nation’s future.
“A core part of our mission at Dow is to support universities and help them continue the tradition of excellence in chemical engineering, chemistry, and materials science,” said Dr. William F. Banholzer, Ph.D., executive vice president and Dow’s chief technology officer. “Dow recognizes that laboratory safety is a continuing challenge for universities everywhere, and we have the expertise to be part of the solution. This pilot program leverages Dow’s strength in creating and sustaining a culture of safety in our labs — a culture that centers on driving behavior toward incident prevention, with a high level of employee engagement.”
University laboratory safety has improved steadily over the last two decades, thanks largely to the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Laboratory Safety Act in 1990. With a transient student population and, at times, inadequate infrastructure — especially in facilities built before 1990 — nurturing and sustaining a safety culture is a challenge. Based on 2010 OSHA personal injury rate data, it’s about seven times safer to work in a Dow laboratory than a university or college laboratory.
As part of this laboratory safety partnership, Penn State will form an interdepartmental team comprising graduate students and faculty from each of the three participating departments – Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering.
Working with Dow, the team’s responsibility is to raise safety awareness and visibility at university labs, follow best-practices, and enhance safety communication within and across departments. As an added professional development component, Dow also will help graduate students understand expectations and skill sets that are valuable for success in an industrial research career.
“We’re honored that Dow approached us with this opportunity to improve safety performance in our laboratories,” said Dr. Henry C. Foley, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School at Penn State. “Our partnership with Dow will ultimately lead to a more rewarding research experience for our students and a safer work environment for our faculty.”
Successful elements of the pilot programs with Penn State and the University of Minnesota could be leveraged to other departments within the two universities as well as to other universities, as appropriate.
For more information on Dow’s industry-leading partnerships with U.S. Universities, visit www.dow.com/innovation/partnership.