Monday, June 20, 2022

C&EN: "What I learned from my lab accident"

In this week's Chemical and Engineering News, this article from Francesca Lorandi:
In February of this year, I was injured in an accident in a chemistry laboratory. I had set up an experiment that involved the separate use of hydrogen and oxygen gases fed into a glove box from compressed cylinders located in the lab. Though this was a well-established experimental procedure in my research group, something caused an explosion. The specific cause of the accident is still under investigation.

When the explosion occurred, the experiment had been paused for a few hours, and I was standing by the glove box. I spent 7 days in the hospital undergoing surgery for wounds on my face and neck and getting splints and implants for dental trauma. A neck fracture meant I had to wear a brace for 2 months. There are also invisible consequences that I’m still discovering day by day. I’m not confronting them on my own: I ask for help or talk to my partner, family, mentors, friends, and colleagues.

The accident triggered extensive discussions at my institution about safety measures in all the departments that conduct potentially hazardous experiments. Department heads and safety services are implementing changes. Importantly, these changes are aimed at germinating a culture of safety rather than just implementing stricter regulations and promising compliance.

It's quite remarkable to have a pretty open incident report this early on. I'm glad that Dr. Lorandi wrote this article, and I hope that it begins a trend. 

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looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20