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From the Chemistry Department

ExxonMobil Hosts Graduate Students for Laboratory Safety Workshop


ExxonMobil’s Baytown Technology and Engineering Center recently hosted 80 graduate students from six universities for its annual Partners in Academic Laboratory Safety (PALS) Workshop.

Now in its fifth year, the PALS program establishes mentoring relationships between ExxonMobil and faculty, staff and students from partner universities to enhance laboratory safety culture. The workshop was established after ExxonMobil recognized new employees needed additional lab safety training besides what was offered at their universities.

“Safety is a core value at ExxonMobil,” said Dirk Michiels, Global Polymers Technology Manager. “This program shares ideas and best practices to help ensure students have adequate laboratory safety training incorporated into their curriculums and we learn a lot from the students and universities as well.”

Students from Texas A&M, University of Texas, University of Houston, University of Florida, Georgia Tech, and Washington University in St. Louis participated in ExxonMobil laboratory tours to highlight different aspects of laboratory safety, including rotating equipment and chemical handling, to documentation and engineering controls. Each university presented on its current lab safety programs to seek feedback to improve their programs.

“Our partnership with ExxonMobil and the other universities has been invaluable,” said Amy Haberman, director of laboratory safety at the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida. “ExxonMobil’s core value of “Nobody Gets Hurt” is one we can all adopt and apply to our work practices, and our students have implemented best practices to advance safety cultureatour labs.”

ExxonMobil continues to explore opportunities to expand the PALS program to other universities, and a similar safety workshop is held every year at its technology center in Shanghai, China.

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