Lubrizol Partners with YSU Chemistry Department on Health and Safety Program

Submitted by Chris Ciolli

The Lubrizol Corporation partnered with Youngstown State University College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to assist the YSU Chemistry Department in improving the overall health and safety program and to provide an inspection model used in general industry and in private research and development organizations.

This partnership with Lubrizol involved the Safety, Health and Environmental department from their Wickliffe, Ohio, corporate headquarters. Gabe Leigh, safety engineer, and Jim Ruttinger, safety and health manager, performed an initial inspection of the YSU Chemistry Department in July 2013. The Lubrizol inspectors spent a full day walking through the Chemistry Department identifying hazards visually and through conversations with staff and students.

The intent was not to act as a regulatory body identifying hazards, but rather as an advisory approach toward creating a safety, health, and environmental conscious culture comparative to that of general industry and R&D.

During this inspection, the Lubrizol employees identified a number of items that were recommended for improvement. The biggest concerns were chemical storage, hazardous waste labeling and storage, and general housekeeping.

These concerns were communicated to the Chemistry Department in a report following similar format to a typical inspection at the Lubrizol Corporation facility in Wickliffe, Ohio, including a list of the findings and observations.

Some of the findings and observations were general in nature, indicating that the observation was not specific to one area or location within the department. Specific findings and observations were identified by the room number and a description of the concern.

In April of this year, Gabe Leigh returned to YSU to follow-up on the changes made from the initial inspection in the Chemistry Department. Gabe was hosted by Dan Sahli, director of environmental and occupational health and safety, and Tim Styranec, environmental health and safety specialist. During the most recent inspection, Gabe also had the opportunity to inspect additional departments throughout the YSU STEM College such as the Engineering and Biology Departments.

Gabe was pleased to report in this follow-up inspection that significant improvements in the Chemistry Department have been made in each of the areas of concern. The corrective actions taken as a result of these inspections provided a safer, healthier, and environmental friendlier approach for the faculty, staff, and especially to the students of YSU. The students will also benefit by being provided a better understanding of what to expect when they enter the workforce related to safety, health, and environmental performance expectations.

Martin Abraham, Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs at YSU, expressed sincere gratitude for Lubrizol’s efforts.

“Through our partnership with Lubrizol, we were able to improve our overall lab safety. The opportunity to get an industrial perspective on lab safety issues has provided a tremendous opportunity to look critically at issues that are ongoing in our labs, allowing us to update and modernize our facilities to the advantage of all,” Abraham said. “Thanks to all of your work on this, we are making YSU better for our faculty, staff, and students. We very much appreciate the support of the Lubrizol staff and leadership for allowing this important interaction to continue.”