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Credit: UC-Berkeley EH&S.
Lesson Learned - Chemical Explosion Causes Eye Injury
A graduate student researcher was working at a laboratory bench synthesizing approximately one gram of diazonium perchlorate crystals. The student was transferring synthesized perchlorate using a metal spatula when the material exploded, sending porcelain fragments into his face. The fragments shattered the lenses of his eyeglasses and lacerated his left cornea.
A researcher in an adjacent room assisted the student to the eyewash and called campus police. The student was taken to the hospital where he underwent surgery on his eye, and treatment for several facial lacerations. He was released from the hospital that same evening.
What went right?
The student was wearing a flame-resistant (FR) coat and nitrile gloves, as called for in the relevant SOP.
The student had previously read and signed the relevant SOP, and had completed EHS 101: Laboratory Safety Fundamentals training.
Emergency protocol was followed once the incident took place (eye wash, contacting emergency personnel).
What should have been done differently?
The student was not wearing ANSI-approved safety glasses as is called for in the SOP and in UC policy.
The student was alone in the room while working with highly hazardous materials.
The work was being performed on an open benchtop, without the use of a fume hood sash or blast shield.
The transfer was performed using a metal spatula, while the SOP calls for use of a non-metal one.Click here to read the entire report; it's worth your time. I have to say, I'm pretty shocked that an incident like this could have happened for a number of reasons:
- Post-Sangji, I was under the impression that the UC system came down pretty hard on PPE issues. I guess not hard enough.
- Perhaps I'm naive, but I think the Preston Brown case is plenty instructive to energetic materials work and super-duper relevant to this case. Why weren't those lessons learned (don't make too much, wear the right PPE, use the right tools) in this case?