Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and University of Minnesota are expanding their strategic partnership by launching a pilot program to improve safety awareness and practices in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in the university’s College of Science and Engineering. The pilot program will leverage key elements of Dow’s best-in-class practices to help improve university laboratory safety.
The safety partnership reinforces Dow’s commitment to advancing research and development at leading U.S. universities. In support of the company’s goal to support breakthrough technologies and ensure a strong pipeline of scientific talent for the nation’s workforce, Dow announced in October 2011 it would invest $25 million per year for 10 years among 11 academic institutions, including the University of Minnesota.
“At Dow, we see it as part of our mission to support universities continue the tradition of excellence in chemical engineering, chemistry, and materials science,” said Dr. William F. Banholzer, Ph.D., Dow’s chief technology officer and executive vice president of ventures, new business development, and licensing. “The safety pilot program expands the partnership with University of Minnesota and leverages our strength in laboratory safety, which is a continuing challenge for universities everywhere. The Dow safety mindset is based on driving behavior toward incident prevention, sustained by renewed employee engagement and the responsibility to provide a safe work environment to our employees.”
University laboratory safety has improved steadily over the last two decades, thanks largely to the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Laboratory Safety Act in 1990. However, with a transient student population and, at times, inadequate infrastructure (especially in pre-1990 facilities) nurturing and sustaining a safety culture is a challenge, say university researchers.
"This partnership is a tremendous opportunity for us to learn how to improve the safety culture in our two departments, which is always of paramount concern as we perform research at the forefront of chemistry, materials science and engineering," said Department of Chemistry chair William Tolman. "The insights and help we glean by working closely with Dow, an industry leader in safety practices, will be invaluable in promoting safe work in our laboratories."