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Subject: Oversby: hazard and risk
From: CCCE ConfChem <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:CONFCHEM <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 10 Jun 2016 13:27:47 -0500

text/plain (43 lines)

To reply: [1]

In the issue of safety, there is some danger of mixing up risk and hazard.
Hazards can (sometimes) be clearly identified. Risk depends on the chance of
a hazard presenting, and so is dependent on many other factors, such as level
of skill, overall knowledge, quantities of materials being used, and the
variable of human tolerance. Against this, is the danger of trying to make
everything completely safe, such as engaging entirely in seat work (at least
away from boxes precariously balanced on a high ledge). A litigous atmosphere
tips the balance twowards the precautionary regime, whereas an unregulated
atmosphere may well lead to many injuries and deaths. While there is always
the possibility that litigation may be employed, there is always the
possibility that a sensible judge will throw out frivolous claims and award
costs against the litigators. Chemists have two opportunities here. One is to
work with lawmakers to discourage frivolous claims that can so easily lead to
fear being the major emotion. The other is to train chemists to better
evaluate risk, in different sitauations. A procedure undertaken by an
experienced chemist could be safe but unsafe when undertaken by a class of
junior high school students with one teacher trying to look everywhere. It
really is a case of evaluating the risk (documenting the decision-making of
course) not simply avoiding the potential hazard by not carrying out
practical work. Chemistry is about training practical chemists, not
theoretical chemists.

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Message Content: hazard and risk

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