by Bryan Connors, M.S., C.I.H., H.E.M.
Felony charges have been filed against the University of California and a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) chemistry professor in connection with a laboratory fire that killed a staff research assistant three years ago. The L.A. County district attorney’s office has filed criminal charges against the chemistry professor responsible for the training and supervision of the research assistant, and the regents of the University of California with three counts each of willfully violating occupational health and safety standards, resulting in the research assistant’s death.
This tragedy has prompted universities and biotech facilities across the nation to scrutinize their own laboratory safety programs to ensure that they are adequately protecting employees from injury. EH&E manages environmental health and safety (EH&S) programs for several large research institutions in Boston and Cambridge, MA and understands these concerns. Similar incidents reported by the media have driven our staff to conduct internal reviews of our own programs to identify vulnerabilities and make improvements. This article offers insights from our internal reviews and resulting efforts on strategies we’ve found to be successful at improving safety program performance...
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