Bullying: The Breakdown

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In early 2018 Sherry Moss, professor of organizational studies at Wake Forest University, was approached by a woman struggling under a verbally and mentally abusive adviser– the subsequent investigation led to her recently published research article regarding the atmosphere of abuse commonly found in university laboratories. Moss finds, as her title makes clear, that research is set up for bullies to thrive. In her article, Moss journeys into both the psychological premise for these bullying antics, and the reason they are not only allowed, but enabled.

 

 

Why is this happening?-

Moss finds that academic settings have higher rates of bullying than other workplaces, but claims, “I have no evidence that scientists are more likely than the general population to have characteristics of abusers or their targets.” She finds that the atmosphere of demand on supervisors to produce results can lead to displaced aggression towards students and the position they have of control commonly leads to what is called “power-poisoning.” Not only that, but because there is rarely an established system of accountability in place, the students have no guarantee that complaints will be investigated or heeded and place themselves (and their years of research) at risk. “When penalties are rare, bad behaviour can thrive.”

 

What can be done about it?-

As with any pervasive dilemma, there are a host of solutions at hand and the best one really depends on the individual situation. Clear communication of the students’ disgruntlement and expectations to either the supervisor or other faculty members is an option, but one which can prove risky, as it could easily results in loss of an essential reference and affect future positions and grant possibilities. There is also the option for students to simply not work with a supervisor who is notorious for bullying antics, but the benefit of this direct tactic is hindered by the power of prestige, Moss finds all too often students will opt to work with “a big name who has lots of publications instead of heeding warnings.” Moss’ ultimate conclusion is that “research institutions must do more to watch for and eliminate abuse.” Institutions should take more serious inquiry into not just peer-review, but also student reviews, during and following research opportunities. These practices should be in place not only for teachers suspected of abuse, but in general. Funding is also an essential reinforcement tool and should be used to reward institutions which partake of such practices. Consequences for egregious behavior should be instituted, addressing complaints with dismissal or stripping of supervision privileges. Finally, Moss calls for the creation of “navigable paths for early-career researchers to switch supervisors.”

 

Safety covers all aspects of human health, including mental and emotional. Safety in the workplace (or research facility) is a contributing factor to peace of mind, well-being, and quality of work. Following Moss’ prescribed steps to eradicate the sources of negative research atmospheres may be quite an undertaking for any institution; however, if quality of research is to be the highest priority, the reward of such an undertaking outweighs any setbacks.

 

Go Buffs!

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SafetyStratus recently sponsored Broomfield local co-ed adult volleyball team, the Bumpin’ Buffs. SafetyStratus President Curtis Baker (not pictured) is a member of the team. If you are in the Broomfield area you can catch one of their upcoming games, or better yet, round up some friends and coworkers and create a team for one of the city’s many recreational leagues. No matter the time of year, city recreational centers around the country provide channels to motivate community interaction and movement. The importance of encouraging exercise and the mental break from day-to-day working grind cannot be understated. Research across the board shows that a sedentary lifestyle will significantly lead to mental and physical strain. Finding an activity to enjoy that gets your body moving is one of the best things you can do for your safety and well being. SafetyStratus is proud to be part of the local effort to invigorate individuals. Good luck getting out there, and Go Buffs!

The Future in Nuclear Energy

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On September 4th, MIT News writer Francesca McCaffrey published a timely response to the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) report titled “The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World.” This report came as one of a collection, each exploring a different technology meant to meet the escalating need for energy solutions with diminishing effect on the global climate, examining the full-scale effects of developing such technologies. As McCaffrey recaps, “Over the past two years, this team has examined each issue, and the resulting report contains guidance policymakers and industry leaders may find valuable as they evaluate options for the future.” Comprehensiveness being the end goal for the multidisciplinary research team, evidence for claims were even substantiated by an external advisory committee.

The planning for Nuclear Energy initiatives covers everything from business models to safety procedures for plants. The lengths that researchers at MIT took to explore all avenues of future practice and response shows the overwhelming desire for these plans to be accepted and pursued.The report illuminates initial policy-making for implementation of such plans and necessary safety regulations and construction concepts.

The report claims, “public policies to advance low-carbon generation should treat all technologies comparably. There should be no discrimination against nuclear energy. Given the notorious past events involving nuclear energy, and with regards to the future, safety is a major concern and could also make nuclear plants easier and more cost efficient to construct. McCaffrey sums up that when it comes to the production of new plants, “The researchers find that changes in reactor construction are needed to usher in an era of safer, more cost-effective reactors, including proven construction management practices that can keep nuclear projects on time and on budget.”

With practice of safer construction and protocol than has been in place, the main deterrent to realizing the cost-efficiency of nuclear energy as a provider of low-carbon electricity is recognized to be the expense of building new nuclear plants. The report finds that new nuclear plant builds are “not a profitable investment.” However, the report addresses this concern as well by uncovering that, “in most cases, existing nuclear is a cost-efficient provider of low-carbon electricity,” and adds that “premature closures of existing plants undermine efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and other power sector emissions and increase the cost of achieving emission reduction targets.”

If there is to be any shift from the current trend in carbon levels due to energy consumption, if there is a change to be made in how our use of energy affects the climate, there is a strong case that the answer lies in nuclear energy. The hurdles that remain include safety, and continuing to improve the foundation which has already been established in the nuclear field.

ACS Seminar

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ACS (American Chemistry Society) will be hosting a free online seminar regarding safety in the lab one week from now on Oct. 11. Chemical safety is recognized as one of the highest priorities for the Society. During this webinar ACS President Dr. Peter Dorhout will be joined by industry experts in a discussion to help equip and prepare individuals from graduate students to faculty members for safe laboratory practices. The hour long Webinar will begin at 1 PM on October 11th.

For full details of the live Webinar and to register for the event, visit ACS’s dedicated page.

 

Human Lifespan

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Prolonging the human lifespan is “the biggest thing that is going to happen in the 21st century,” says Harvard biologist, David Sinclair. The idea of the Bionic human, is conceptually one of the earliest schemes of science fiction. Thoroughly investigated through creative outlets such as books and film, the universal fantasy has reappeared time and again. However, if the mysterious example of Arthur C. Clark has taught us anything, it is that what can be imagined, could also be proven. 

A recent article from MIT Technology Review, elaborates on the theory espoused by David Sinclair, that human regeneration is now within actual reach. Though evidence of the progress of such trials has been kept relatively contained, this technological review reveals a glimpse of just how far scientists have been able to come in the biological rejuvenation of animals, especially dogs, and the confidence in human application. That the human lifespan is finite, has long been a scholarly question, and it is exciting to witness the revelation of advances to parry that question.

Dinosaurs in Our Time

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YaleNews writer Jim Shelton has been following the findings and publications of Yale assistant professor and assistant curator Bhart-Anjan Singh Bhullar and his team for the past few years. According to Shelton’s 2015 research review, Bhullar’s lab has been successful in replicating “ancestral molecular development to transform chicken embryos in a laboratory into specimens with a snout and palate configuration similar to that of small dinosaurs such as Velociraptor and Archaeopteryx.” The study has been years of work to further investigate evolutionary processes. More recently, this research revealed an observable correlation “between the brain’s development and the roofing bones of the skull.” Regarding this finding, Bhullar states, “We suggest that this relationship is found across all vertebrates with bony skulls and indicates a deep developmental relationship between the brain and the skull roof,” implying “the brain produces molecular signals that instruct the skeleton to form around it.”

The ramifications of such research are not, as may be dramatically assumed, to pull a Jurassic Park and initiate the recreation of Dinosaurs, but more so to expose what secrets their fossil remains can disclose about genetic makeup across species.

 

Technological Advances Reducing Outbreak

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Technological advances come in all shapes and sizes. They serve many different purposes, and solve many problems, from how to help you connect with people around you to how you view the world. Technological advances are how we translate growth in this day and age. They affect everyday life, including our health. When it comes to working in hospitals, the success of your technology can determine the success of your patients. Where potential exposure to pathogens is involved, less is more. The less exposure to pathogens, the greater potential for successful patients. Here is a list of 5 innovative technological advances that employ this “less is more” theory and could reduce outbreak of infections in hospitals.

 

  1. Respiratory Technology Innovations.

Starting things with the basics. How do you improve upon the wheel? In many ways, gaining small advances over a long period of time. In a similar fashion, respiratory technology has been improving since it’s conception and continues to strive for the best in that most basic human necessity, breathing. Simply stated, respiratory technology is making gains by slimming down. Respiratory Advancement insider John Raimondi states, “ergonomics can be imperative to getting the job done safely…increased fields of view and lighter-weight masks are becoming increasingly important attributes to users who may be working in respirators for extended periods of time.” Ergonomics are key to advances in safety for respiratory technology; a more wearable device encourages the health of the wearer in times of necessity.

 

  1. Kinnos Highlight.

Four years ago there was an ebola outbreak in the United States. One contributor to this outbreak was contamination from doctors’ uniforms. Contamination occured because of two problems with the required method of decontamination, which involves spraying bleach on uniforms. The first problem is that when normal bleach is sprayed it forms droplets instead of covering the entire surface of the uniform. Additionally, since bleach is not visible to the naked eye, coverage could not be confirmed visually. The solution was adding KInnos Highlight to the bleach used for decontamination. Kinnos Highlight is a bright blue dye which reduces the formation of droplets and then gently oxidizes with the air, giving doctors plenty of time to confirm full coverage of materials and reducing potential for outbreak.

 

  1. Copper coated Uniforms.

Kinnos Highlight, though a simple and effective solution to potential clothing contamination, might be rendered unnecessary with the growth of this technological advancement. According to a recent article reporting this breakthrough, a new composite material made from antibacterial copper nanoparticles has been successfully produced. Also developed is the ability to bind this composite to fabrics such as cotton and polyester in a durable way. The resulting innovation has excellent antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. According to the research findings, the “cotton and polyester coated-copper fabrics showed excellent antibacterial resistance against Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and E. coli.” Once the process of producing this new technology is simplified, it will be more accessible to healthcare professionals, providing a safer work environment and less risk of infection and outbreak.

 

  1. Cloud-based Analytics Platforms.

Hospitals all over the world are stripping down their data centers and putting efforts into pursuing cloud-based analytics platforms. This technological advancement serves to keep patients and practitioners safer by safeguarding information. However, according to Richard Stroup (Director of Informatics at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City), use of these platforms goes beyond the function of data security and increases chance of overall wellness. Stroup states that their facility uses cloud services to host an app and data that “literally save lives of at-risk pediatric patients by tracking them after they leave the hospital”. Children with compromised health have weakened immune systems are more susceptible to pathogens present in hospital settings. Communicating conditions and receiving feedback via applications leads to less chances of outbreak. Additionally, other applications ensure that methods for accountability and knowledge to keep up with best health practices are more accessible than ever before. Technological advances through apps like SafetyStratus help nurses and doctors more easily assess patient schedules and keep assignments manageable, so that accidental exposure to illness can be avoided.

 

  1. Wearable Medical Devices.

In the healthcare industry, small wearable devices are making huge steps in innovation. The potential for these devices to facilitate remote patient monitoring increases patients ability to maintain awareness of their own conditions and reduces the need for hospital visits and exposure to pathogens. Additionally, according to an article from Today’s Medical Developments, “the precision of such devices have the potential to improve diagnosis, and a more customized treatment or post-treatment recuperative plan.” The increase in consistency of feedback of medical conditions leads to higher success rate in recuperation, and directly reduces potential for outbreak.  

Whether these advances come through aesthetics or more technical avenues, they all are improving patient and professional health and safety.

 

Ed Bell Construction Company Takes CSEA

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Ed Bell Construction Company was honored at the recent AGC National Convention with First Place in the Highway and Transportation Under 800,000 Manhours Division of the Construction Safety Excellence Awards (CSEA). Ed Bell Construction Company has won a CSEA three out of the four years they have applied. According to the AGC CSEA website, the selection process is extremely comprehensive and analyzes essential parts of applicant companies’ safety programs, including “company management commitment, active employee participation, safety training, work site hazard identification and control, and safety program innovation.” Kerry Hurd, Director of Safety at EBCC, comments that winning an AGC award, “holds a lot of weight” in the construction industry. “Construction is competitive” Hurd explains, “we are constantly bidding for projects. County jobs sometimes look for the best contractor. They take into account your reputation and years of experience. A couple of times we had the second highest bid, but won the contract because of our reputation.”

 

Ed Bell Construction Company’s reputation is spelled out on their webpage, “Safety as a Culture- Home Safe. Every Person. Every Shift.” Tasked with creating this “Culture of Safety,” Kerry Hurd, comments that winning the award this year was “a Team Effort.”  Hurd has been the Director of Safety at Ed Bell Construction Company for six years. In those six years, he feels his team has succeeded in establishing safety maintenance and upkeep, and the only fight now is against complacency. “People are uncomfortable with doing things in an unsafe way” Hurd says, “they see the reward from active safety.” Hurd claims that his success as Director of Safety, is only possible through the success of the individual workers. “If someone is fired for doing something unsafe,” claims Hurd “then it means I did something wrong. In a culture of safety, the need is for managers to be teaching, not reprimanding.” This mindset illustrates the foremost attributes outlined in the CSEA selection process.

 

Hurd’s understanding of Safety Culture, and the imperative need for it to saturate the workplace, is the culmination of a career of safety management.  Starting out over twenty years ago with his first construction job, tunneling work on the subway system in LA, Hurd still regards his work there as one of hallmarks of his career. Hurd remarks about this fledgling experience, “safety was presumed. You didn’t play around with safety, but took care of things to the ‘T’. OSHA compliance was everywhere, if something was off, you would get sued.” Starting out in such a safety pervasive environment disciplined Hurd, and taught him to share this discipline with others, preparing him to be the self-titled “Salesman for Safety” that he is today. Kerry Hurd states simply about his ability to share this mindset with his workers, “Everyone has a meeting with me during new-hire orientation, and I explain that letting everyone do what they want means an unsafe environment. We’ve had a couple guys leave because they got tired of all the ‘rules,’ and come back after a couple months because they saw what the alternative was, and didn’t like it.” No doubt EBCC’s team’s competency for safety imperatives is strengthened by reinforcement from the individual worker, the management, and company president combined.

One factor which has enabled Kerry Hurd in his desire to further safety compliance amidst his team is the growing partnership with SafetyStratus. Through use of the software, Hurd is able to enforce the latter attributes looked for in the CSEA award process, that of work site hazard identification and control, and safety program innovation. Hurd states that the most common way he employs SafetyStratus software is running a report for the top five deficiencies in EBCC’s safety program every quarter. In Hurd’s words, the SafetyStratus Platform uses “real numbers and data. The team can share actual photos from on site, so you can see what needs to change.” Hurd claims that, “challenging superintendents on safety roles is complicated for managers who have no field experience. However, miscommunications are reduced when you know what you are looking for, and can present visual evidence to all those involved. In this way, reinforcement is put into practice, as the most common “problem areas” are emphasized for that quarter, so they can be fixed. Hurd claims that “following OSHA regulations can be simple, everything is on iPads now, so safety can be efficient.”

Partners like Ed Bell Construction Company and power-users like Kerry Hurd help to advance SafetyStratus’ goal of innovation in safety technology and how it is employed. Reinforced with another CSEA, Ed Bell Construction Company is sure to succeed in their efforts to continually campaign for safety culture, and SafetyStratus appreciates the opportunity to support them in that endeavour.

 

SafetyStratus College and University Award

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February 18, 2018. The American Chemical Society (ACS) division of Chemical Health and Safety (CHAS) has announced the winner of the 2018 Safety Stratus/ CHAS College and University Award. Douglas Walters, the 2018 CHAS Awards Chair, states that, “The award is given to acknowledge excellence in undergraduate chemistry safety programs.”

The award this year goes to the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Nominations are submitted before December of the previous year, and chosen to be recognizedbased on numerous qualifications to assess their dedication to establishing, promoting and perpetuating a highly effective undergraduate chemical safety program. The presentation of the award and acceptance of the commemorative plaque will take place in the afternoon on August 19, 2018 at the 256th Annual National Meeting and Exposition for the ACS, Nanoscience, Nanotechnology & Beyond, in Boston Massachusetts. Previous Winners of the SafetyStratus College and University and Safety Award are listed here:

2017: Stanford University

2016: Duke University

2015: University of Pennsylvania

2014: University of California Davis

2013: North Carolina State University

In addition to the Universities who have invested in maintaining safe projects and facilities for undergraduates, the awards highlight the contribution of supporting technology and consulting safety professionals.

To learn more about the ACS and chemical research and safety, visit any of the links provided or register to attend any one of the ACS national or regional meetings.

5 Reasons to Stay “On It”

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Even if you are not a diehard fan of it, chances are you have heard of the show, The Office. In the show, Toby Flenderson, the resident H.R. rep, is an openly despised presence in the office, the killer of fun and general “wet blanket.” Why do memes get sent out of Michael (the boss) screaming “no!” when he realizes Toby is in the room? Why does this character exist, and his supposed misery is appreciated?

Very often, the response to litigation and enforcement is eye rolling and a strong urge to mock. It can be very easy to question why standards are in place, why policies have to be a certain way. Whether your industry is white collar or blue collar, safety is continually a factor. Here is a quick reminder of 5 reasons to stay “on it” when it comes to policies of health and safety.

1.Tax Breaks

Positive reinforcement is the most basic reward system to reinforce and teach good behavior. When you are a part of a company, understanding that any good you do means more money for the company is a great positive reinforcement tool. It is common knowledge that the more safe you can prove your organization to be, the less money you will have to put into necessary insurance policies.

2. Awards

While OSHA compliance and awards for safety may be mostly voluntary and have no monetary reward associated with them, they will definitely earn your company some good press. Good press for your company can mean benefits for the organization, as well as the individual.

3. Mistakes Happen

When it comes to safety, not all publicity is good publicity. Even with all the right equipment, and the right people for the job, mistakes happen. Like the recall of almost 40 million fire extinguishers last year. Staying “on it” when incidents outside of your organization’s control occur, means only minor setbacks, as opposed to major accidents. The news of the recall went out, and the companies which had invested in the recalled products merely had to request replacements fire extinguishers, instead of trying to quell the flames of a tragedy.

4. Government Shutdown

During the Government shutdown that took place last month, government agencies that protect and monitor safety standards were reduced to a skeletal staff that were mandated to only respond to immediate emergencies, leaving many corporations with the impression that “they can take a vacation from safety.” However, the government shutdown was concluded in a matter of days, and there are still provisions in place to ensure workplace safety, despite the lack of immediate response to potential hazards. OSHA, for one, has several requirements in place entailing employers’ electronic tracking of incidents. Even with talk of another government shutdown, safety is not ever put on hold.

5. Employee Approval

Unless you are a professional stuntman, chances are you do not list the possibility of danger among desirable traits in the workplace. So when you are in an industry that entails potentially dangerous situations, no one wants to hear from their employer that danger is “just part of the job.” Having appropriate and sometimes extensive safety measures in place is an attractive quality to potential employees seeking work in a given organization.