Saturday, January 16, 2010
Sheri Sangji, one year later
One year ago today, Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji died of her injuries from an accident with tert-butyl lithium in the laboratory of Professor Patrick Harran at UCLA. Recently, the case has been handed from Cal/OSHA to the LA district attorney for assessment as to whether there has been a crime committed.
What I hope the chemists that are reading this will remember is the importance of wearing proper protective equipment in the lab. Among the many, many things that could have changed the tragic results of the day, a cotton lab coat may have done so. And while I actually mentioned to my mother-in-law that I took pleasure in not wearing a lab coat while in graduate school, it doesn't change the fact that I was stupid and I was wrong.
So, on this day of memorial for Ms. Sangji, I implore you, bench chemists, wear your PPE and avoid working alone. Watch out for your coworkers and admonish them when needed. Professors and administrators, lab safety is a top-down function. Do your jobs, even if it makes you unpopular. (What? You're not already?) It will keep your charges safe.
Rest in peace, Sheri Sangji.