laboratoryThe Dow Chemical Company and The Pennsylvania State University have launched a pilot program to increase safety awareness and practices in the university’s Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. The program will leverage key elements of Dow’s best-in-class practices to help elevate university laboratory safety.

The program is part of Dow’s commitment to invest $25 million per year for 10 years among 11 academic institutions -- including Penn State -- to strengthen research in scientific fields.

Dr. William F. Banholzer, Ph.D., executive vice president and Dow’s chief technology officer, said the program leverages Dow’s culture of safety, which centers on driving behavior toward incident prevention, and features a high level of employee engagement.

University 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. With a transient student population and, at times, inadequate infrastructure — especially in facilities built before 1990 — nurturing and sustaining a safety culture is a challenge.

As part of the laboratory safety partnership, Penn State will form an interdepartmental team comprising graduate students and faculty from each of the three participating departments – Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering.

The corporate-university team’s responsibility is to raise safety awareness and visibility at university labs, follow best-practices, and enhance safety communication within and across departments. Dow said it will also help graduate students understand expectations and skill sets that are valuable for success in an industrial research career.  

Successful elements of the pilot program could be leveraged to other departments within the two universities as well as to other universities.

For more information on Dow’s partnerships with U.S. Universities, visit