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Introducing Students To Lab Safety In Chemical Engineering: The Safety Scavenger Hunt

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

The Modern ChE Laboratory

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.750.1 - 7.750.4



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Paper Authors

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Kathryn Hollar

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Marvin Harris

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Kevin Dahm

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Session 3613

Introducing Students to Lab Safety in Chemical Engineering: The Safety Scavenger Hunt

Kathryn A. Hollar, Kevin D. Dahm and Marvin L. Harris College of Engineering, Rowan University


Faculty who teach laboratories or supervise undergraduate students in research projects understand the importance of adherence to safety guidelines in the laboratory. Safety training, however, often consists only of watching a few videos or relating safety rules with cautionary anecdotes. While these exercises provide valuable background and general guidelines for safe practices, each laboratory has particular hazards that must be addressed. The Chemical Engineering Department at Rowan University has developed an interactive exercise to introduce students to lab safety. Rather than deliver a lecture, we have devised a “safety scavenger hunt” to be completed in a laboratory period at the beginning of the semester. Safety violations, such as unlabeled containers or lack of personal protective equipment, are staged for this activity. Student teams compete against each other to identify these staged and other potential safety hazards associated with equipment, as well as the location of Materials Safety Data Sheets and safety and first aid equipment.

This activity serves as an introduction to safety for a course or curriculum, and sets the stage for developing a culture in which lab safety is observed at all times. At Rowan, throughout the courses for which this activity was designed, Junior/Senior Clinic (a research project course for undergraduates) and Unit Operations Laboratory, safe practices are tied to the students’ grades. In addition to requiring students to prepare HazOp reports for each laboratory experiment or project, random safety checks are performed throughout the semester. This paper provides details for delivering this introductory exercise, as well as student responses.


Training students to practice safe behavior in the laboratory is essential to producing competent engineers. Creating students who instinctively and thoughtfully incorporate an awareness of safety in every experiment and process is an intensive effort; entire courses are devoted to chemical hygiene and accident prevention1,2. Throughout the curriculum, developing safe habits in students in a wet or unit operations laboratory requires raising student awareness of obvious and hidden hazards, and motivating students to monitor their own and others’ safety. Rather than simply going through the motions of following lab safety rules set by the faculty and college safety officer, students must participate in observing and resolving safety violations in the lab.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Hollar, K., & Harris, M., & Dahm, K. (2002, June), Introducing Students To Lab Safety In Chemical Engineering: The Safety Scavenger Hunt Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10842

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