Dow Chemical. Penn State Announce Lab Safety Program

It's an outgrowth of the company's multi-year investment in 11 universities to support research in scientific fields it values.

Penn State University and the Dow Chemical Company announced their expanded strategic partnership includes a pilot program to increase safety awareness and practices in the university's chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science and engineering departments –- a similar partnership to one Dow announced last month with the University of Minnesota. The company is investing $25 million per year for 10 years among 11 academic institutions, including Penn State, to strengthen research in scientific fields important to Dow.

"A core part of our mission at Dow is to support universities and help them continue the tradition of excellence in chemical engineering, chemistry, and materials science," said William F. Banholzer, Ph.D., executive vice president and Dow's chief technology officer. "Dow recognizes that laboratory safety is a continuing challenge for universities everywhere, and we have the expertise to be part of the solution. This pilot program leverages Dow's strength in creating and sustaining a culture of safety in our labs -- a culture that centers on driving behavior toward incident prevention, with a high level of employee engagement."

While Dow's announcement said U.S. universities' 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," it also said based on 2010 OSHA personal injury rate data, "it's about seven times safer to work in a Dow laboratory than a university or college laboratory."

"We're honored that Dow approached us with this opportunity to improve safety performance in our laboratories," said Henry C. Foley, Ph.D., vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School at Penn State. "Our partnership with Dow will ultimately lead to a more rewarding research experience for our students and a safer work environment for our faculty."

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