P1010: Risk hazard assessment in the general chemistry laboratory
Awareness of risks and hazards is an essential skill not only for scientists in the laboratory but also in everyday life. This project implemented a system of weekly risk hazard assessments in a first semester general chemistry laboratory course. Of particular interest was comparing the perceptions and assessments of students enrolled in the course to those of the teaching assistants (Masters level graduate students) and laboratory professionals. Overall, there was confusion about hazard categories and differences in the level of associated risk perceived. Some types of hazards may be amenable to definitive answers that could be taught; e.g. toxic hazards are either present or not. Behavioral and physical hazards are more problematic as they depend on the development of situational awareness. Implications for teaching assistant training and permanent inclusion of risk hazard analyses are discussed.