Safety Day: First-Years’ Passport to Safety Culture

September 27, 2023
people standing around lab bench

“Safety first, safety forever!” Those were the words hollered over the registration table to kick off the annual Yale Chemistry Safety Day on Aug. 25 at the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory.

“Safety Day, hosted by the Chemistry Joint Safety Team (JST) and Yale Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), is an annual event designed to teach our incoming graduate students about safety resources and to train them in safe practices before they begin work in the lab,” said Abbigayle Cuomo, 3rd-year student in the Batista and Newhouse Groups, Joint Safety Team co-president, and event co-chair.

“Safety is an integral part of chemical research. It’s not only about personal safety and health, but it’s also about environmental protection and the health of your peers,” said Noah Gibson, 3rd-year graduate student from the Mayer Lab, Joint Safety Team co-president, and event co-chair. “Part of this is having a positive safety culture among researchers and educational resources with multiple means of engagement. This is what Safety Day is all about.”

To complete their training, students must participate in 18 safety stations and get their “safety passport” stamped at each visit.

“We designed this event to be interactive with the students as they visit booths with live demonstrations by our JST and EHS volunteers about hazardous waste management, handling pyrophoric reagents, properly using gas cylinders, and much more,” said Cuomo.

In traveling from lab to lab for the next demo, students stopped by safety tables lining the SCL teaching lab hallway, where they tried on personal protective equipment, practiced removing gloves, and picked up a new pair of safety glasses, among other activities.

“Promoting safety education and a substantiative safety culture in the department is a large undertaking,” said Gibson. “Luckily, we have so many great volunteers and experts to help us get there.”

Volunteers consisted of upper-class graduate students and service providers who work across Yale. A team of EHS staff, including Chemistry’s Safety Advisor Paul Emery, trained students on waste management, chemical inventory, and personal protective equipment. Chemistry’s glassblowers Daryl Smith and Preston Smith were on hand to explain glassware. Yale Police promoted public safety resources while Chemistry’s Joint Safety Team explained how to report a near miss and directed students to training videos on their website. Outside in the courtyard, Yale fire inspectors taught students how to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher.

Students came away prepped for the logistics of experimentation and ready to dive into research.


The Yale Chemistry Joint Safety Team is a group of graduate students and postdocs from the Department of Chemistry and staff from Yale Environmental Health & Safety who cultivate a safety culture. Explore both websites for safety resources.

View the photo slideshow of Safety Day.