Laboratory-based research often involves materials that are or can be dangerous when not properly handled. Protecting the health and safety of research personnel and the environment of the surrounding community is a fundamental responsibility of any university. As recent lab safety cases demonstrate, if researchers are not properly trained, compliance measure are not maintained, and proper safety procedures are not followed, accidents, sometimes fatal, can occur. For more information on Laboratory Safety, visit the Office of Research Compliance and Training website. Here are a few recent laboratory safety cases:
Laboratory Safety Cases
Texas Tech – A 2010 chemistry lab explosion at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, resulted in serious injuries to one graduate student. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) identified “systemic deficiencies in safety accountability and oversight by the principal investigators, the chemistry department, and the university administration.” Read the details of the CSB investigation.
UCLA - In 2009, a UCLA research assistant died days after air-sensitive chemicals she was working with burst into flames and ignited her clothing. The university was cited and fined for failing to properly train the assistant, allowing her to work without protective clothing at the time of the fire, and for not correcting safety deficiencies that had been previously identified. In 2012, felony charges were filed against the university and the PI for willfully violating occupational health and safety standards, resulting in the death. Read the article from Inside Higher Ed.