(85a) The AIChE Chem-E-Car Safety Program

Authors: 
Willey, R. J., Northeastern University
Crowl, D. A., University of Utah


In April of 2006 the AIChE Board of Directors suspended the Chem-E-Car student competition due to a number of safety related incidents that occurred at competitions and individual universities. Re-instatement of the competition depended upon the development and implementation of a safety program that mitigated future incidents.

This paper describes the safety program that was developed. The program includes technical, management, and cultural parts.

For the technical part, a training program was developed to insure that the students were aware of the potential hazards and their control. This included a four-hour training program for one team member and each team advisor at the 2006 Annual meeting (San Francisco). The session was videotaped and made available to student teams that did not attend the training session. These teams were required to view the video and participate in an on-line teleconference related to safety prior to the regional competitions in the Spring of 2007.

The management part has three components. First, a set of rules was established related to the most common hazards of pressure, chemical reactivity, and toxicity. Secondly, a job safety analysis (JSA) form was developed that must be completed by the students in advance of the competition. Thirdly, an audit procedure was established to inspect each vehicle prior to the competition. This inspection is performed by industrial volunteers. If the car passes the inspection the student team is given a permit to operate their car during the competition.

The cultural aspects are integrated throughout the entire program. The students are given the clear message that safety is important, and must be an integral part of their car's design and operation.

In June of 2006 the AICHE Board of Control re-instated the competition after their review of the proposed safety program. No safety incidents occurred during the Fall National competition in 2006, and no incidents occurred during the regional competitions in the Spring of 2007. Significant safety awareness has been created, and everyone has benefited from the educational aspects that this program has created.

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