Chemical Safety: Protecting Ourselves And Our Environment;

Course Description:

This online intercollegiate course in laboratory safety is intended for students majoring in chemistry or related disciplines. This course will include a textbook, online papers from experts in various areas of chemical health and safety and other resources available on the world wide web and elsewhere. Students will interact with their counterparts at campuses across the nation. Emphasis is placed on the "new culture of laboratory safety" in which safety is an integral part of the design and execution of an experiment.


National Research Council (1995), "Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Disposal of Chemicals", Washington, D.C., National Academy Press. (An electronic version of this text is available free at [PP].

American Chemical Society Joint Board-Council Committee on Chemical Safety. 2003. Safety in Academic chemistry Laboratories Vol. 1, 7th. Ed. Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society. (Single copies may be obtained free from the American Chemical Society's Office of Society Services by calling 800-227-5558 (or 202-872-6067) or emailing Multiple copies are priced at $2.50 each for 2 through 199 copies and $1.50 each for 200 or more copies. An electronic version of this text is available at [SACL]


One year each of general and organic chemistry


The new culture of laboratory safety articulated in the National Academy of Science book "Prudent Practices" is built around experimental planning. Safety is as much a part the design and execution of an experiment as the selection of reagents and glassware. "Prudent Practices" notes that "the culture of laboratory safety depends ultimately on the working habits of individual chemists and their sense of teamwork for protection of themselves, their neighbors, and the wider community and environment."

By linking students in many different campuses we hope to foster this sense of teamwork and discuss ways of improving the safety habits of laboratory workers. Students will be able to ask and answer questions from each other and experts. Safety and health involve evaluating hazards and assessing risks. Students will have a better understanding of what is involved in such decision making and the consequences of poor decisions.

Tentative Outline:

The course would contain a core schedule of 10 weeks. Because of different schedules at different schools, some schools will have an additional week (or weeks) at the beginning and at the end.

"Prudent Practices" has 9 Chapters. It is proposed that a few of the topics listed below (1 to 9) be covered in depth.

  1. Culture of Laboratory Safety
  2. Prudent Planning of Experiments
  3. Evaluating Hazards and Assessing Risks in the Laboratory
  4. Management of Chemicals
  5. Working with Chemicals
  6. Working with Laboratory Equipment
  7. Disposal of Waste
  8. Laboratory Facilities
  9. Government Regulation of Laboratories

Course Management:

Each participating school will be responsible for obtaining permission to offer the course either by initiating a "new course proposal" or by using an existing "topics" course. Credit and grading will be the responsibility of the host schools. This course is planned to be a three credit course.

Class meetings

Each instructor at the participating schools will meet with his/her students and interact with them. The nature of these interactions is left to the faculty at the host institutions. Discussion of classroom activities may occur on the OLCC-FAC Discussion list.

OLCC Website

Course description, core course schedule, expert papers and links to websites will be available. This site may be used to provide links to student papers. Scott Van Bramer (a member of CCCE) will establish and maintain this website.


Students registered for the course at the participating schools will be subscribed to the OLCC-STU Discussion List. The authors of papers on the OLCC website will be subscribed as will the course instructors. Students will use the discussion list to ask questions of the authors of papers and other students. The list will be used for discussion between students and between authors and students. Course instructors will monitor this list.

The course instructors and authors of papers will be subscribed to the OLCC-FAC Discussion List. Students will not be subscribed to this list. This list will be used by the instructors in planning the course, interacting with other instructors and the authors of papers. Questions may be asked and discussion will occur.

Donald Rosenthol will establish and manage the olcc-fac and olcc-stu discussion lists.

Information about previous OLCC Courses may be found on the CCCE website:

A paper describing the course - "Environmental and Industrial Chemistry" in detail may be found at:

A paper entitled "Future On-Line Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Courses" may be found at:

This page is maintained by
Scott Van Bramer
Department of Chemistry
Widener University
Chester, PA 19013

Please send any comments, corrections, or suggestions to

This page has been accessed times since 6/1 /2003 .
Last Updated 3/5/2003