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Make Learning how to be Safe an Integral and Important Part of the Science Education Process

For too many years at academic institutions and some companies, safety has been something extra.

by James A. Kaufman
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For too many years at academic institutions and some companies, safety has been something extra. It's time that it became part of the process. At Dow, we were told that we were being paid to do three things: (1) work safely, (2) conduct active research programs, and (3) publish the reports and patent disclosures resulting from our research. Safety was part of the job ... not something extra.

The slogan at the Bell System is: "No job is so important and no service so urgent that we can not take time to perform our work safely". At Dow, it was each person's responsibility to be sure that their work could be performed safely. If you don't think it's safe to do, don't do it.

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These kinds of attitudes and values are built over time by companies and institutions that make it very clear that they value safety. Science educators need to have the time (as part of their regular working day) to set-up and test experiments, to look up the hazards of chemicals, to find out what protective equipment and protective facilities are needed. This is the job.

I hope science educators will ask to be relieved from collateral duties to make time for these important safety responsibilities. English, math, history, and foreign language teachers don't have these needs. You do. And remember, if you never ask, you'll never get. If the principal says no, just think to yourself, "that's an interesting opening position!" Ask every chance you get until you get what you want!