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Lessons Learned

This page describes accidents at facilities across the country and describes best practices to avoid reoccurence.  Accidents are organized by type of industry.

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       LABORATORY     

Additional lessons learned can be found at UC's Center For Laboratory Safety,

 AIHA's Chemical Synthesis Lab Accidents, the Laboratory Safety Institute's Memorial Wall, and

UC Berkeley's Lessons Learned.

 

Four people asphyxiated when carrying dry ice in a cooler in a vehicle (2018)Related article

Best Practice- If you must transport dry ice, keep it outside of the passenger compartment and roll down windows.

 

Hydrogen explosion (2016)Related article

Best Practice - Use only intrinsically safe equipment near hydrogen.  Ground equipment involved with flammable gases or liquids.  Review any near misses before continuing work or scaling up reactions.

 

Aqua Regia spill (2015) - Freshly made bottle of aqua regia burst.

Best practice - Use clean bottles to store aqua regia.  Don't seal bottles tightly.                                                         

 Laboratory fire resulting from hydrogenation reaction         

Best Practice - Reduce quantities, run reaction in inert atmosphere, reduce temperature, use chlorinated solvent.

 

Chemical Exposure (2012).  Student exposed to chemicals from leaking separatory funnel.

Best Practice - Wear long pants, stand at the bench rather than sit.

 

Explosion in synthesis lab (2010).  Related article

Best Practice - Create and follow standard operating procedures.

 

Waste bottle explosion due to mixing nitric acid with organics (2009).  

Best Practice - Separate incompatible chemicals into individual waste bottles that are properly labeled to avoid confusion.

 

Fire from misuse of pyrophoric chemical (2008).  Related article

Best Practice - Follow standard operating procedure for use and quantity.  Wear flame resistant lab coat.

 

Exposure to Herpes B virus from monkey (1997).  Related article

Best Practice - Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and goggles.

 

Mercury poisoning (1996)Related article

Best Practice - Wear gloves that protect you from the chemicals you are working with.

 

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        FIELD WORK

The Wall of the Dead - A Memorial to Fallen Naturalists

Panama, Wildlife Biology (2017) - Parker James Matzinger – 22, of Ashland, Oregon, passed away on Jan. 26, he had just begun a three-month internship with the Smithsonian Institute and was setting up new animal camera traps in the jungle.  Related article

USA (California), Climate Research (2017) - Staff climbed 10' up pole to retrieve equipment when pole broke, trapping worker's head. Worker was wearing hard hat and climbing harness, but sustained damage to teeth.  Second worker was able to assist with rescue.

Ethiopia, Plant Biology (2016) - Sharon Gray – Post-doc at UC Davis, killed when a rock went through her car window and hit her head, on the outskirts of the capital city, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Related article

Antarctica, Climate Research (2016) - Gordon Hamilton – Professor at UMaine conducting climate systems research, died in a snowmobile crash into a crevasse in Antarctica.  Related article

Congo, Wildlife Biology (2016) - Jana Robeyst –  Wildlife Conservation Society field researcher, charged by a wild elephant – Related article

USA (Santee National Wildlife Refuge) (2016) – Wayne Grooms – rattlesnake bite to his lower left leg.  Related article

Zambia, Wildlife Biology (2015) – Margarita Metallinou – Researcher  from Villanova University specializing in reptiles was working in Kafue National Park, when an elephant trampled her to death, age 29.  Related article

Ethiopia, Wildlife Biology (2015) - Bill Stanley - head of the mammal collection at the Field Museum in Chicago, died of a heart attack, age 58, while running traplines for rare species in Ethiopia.  Related article

Mongolia, Wildlife Biology (2015) - Lkagvasumberel  Tomorsukh - with the Snow Leopard Trust, working directly with leopards radiocollaring, camera trapping, surveying, and outreach.  Probable murder.  Related article

U.S.A (Bridger-Teton National Forest) (2014) – Adam Stewart – killed by a bear on a solo trip in the Teton Wilderness to conduct a vegetation survey.  Related article, OSHA investigation

Finland, Wildlife Biology (2014) - Keren Embar – Post-doc at Ben Gurion University (Israel) studying hantavirus, died of hantavirus while studying voles in Finland.  Related article

Antarctica, Marine Biology/Diving (2014) - Luigi Michaud – research fellow developing new antibiotics for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, died while diving in Antarctica collecting marine bacteria.  Related article

India, Wildlife Biology (2014) - Subramanian Bupathy – herpetologist at Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (India), died from severe fall in mountains while studying reptiles.  Related article

USA (Arizona), Wildlife Biology (2014) – Ronnie Sidner - mammalogist, conservationist, and tireless advocate for bats, died in an automobile accident after leading a bat field trip.  Related article

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    FACILITIES

Hair caught in lathe (2011)Related article

Best Practice - Don't work alone, keep hair secured, provide guards for hazardous equipment.