Update on UCLA Accident-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Update on UCLA Accident

Though it happened nearly four years ago, there have been recent developments in the responses to a fatal accident at UCLA, where a woman died from burns resulting from use of a pyrophoric material. To refresh your memory, the woman was found not to have been properly trained by the PI for use of the material, and that the PI also had not sufficiently responded to safety deficiencies identified in recent laboratory inspections. The PI and the Regents of the University received criminal charges from the State of California as a result of the investigation of the case.

Most recently, charges were dropped against the Regents, in exchange for systemic changes that must be adopted by the ENTIRE University of California system. One of the changes involves the requirement for SOPs for a long list of higher-hazard materials, much like our own PHS SOP requirement. Charges remain in place for the PI, however.

The lessons for us in all the UCLA activity is that it is critical to correct safety deficiencies promptly, to ensure the lab-specific training occurs, and that PIs have critical responsibilities for the safety of their lab workers.

By: Mark Banister, markb2@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-1493