On individual versus institutional responsibility for workplace injuries
Oct13

On individual versus institutional responsibility for workplace injuries

A comment on personal versus institutional responsibility by Suzanne Donovan, an infectious disease specialist at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, who spoke on NPR on Sunday about the Texas health care worker now infected with Ebola: And I think it’s really important that there is no finger-pointing at the healthcare worker so that the healthcare worker did something wrong because this is all about training and having the...

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Denver student hit in chest with jet of flaming methanol
Sep17

Denver student hit in chest with jet of flaming methanol

New incident, same message: Don’t pour alcohol anywhere near a possible flame. At a press briefing yesterday, Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board investigators spoke about what they’ve learned so far regarding an incident at a Denver high school that sent four students to the hospital on Monday: The teacher lit a small pool of methanol to demonstrate its flame properties. When the flame didn’t rise as high as...

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CSB warns against using methanol in classroom or lab demos
Sep15

CSB warns against using methanol in classroom or lab demos

Following up on the flash fire during a “tornado” demo in a Nevada museum, the U.S. Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board released a statement today containing details of the incident and warning against using methanol in combustion demonstrations. CSB investigators responded to the museum fire, and their description of what happened confirms what the Associated Press reported: Our investigative team determined...

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David Snyder pled no contest to all charges in UC Davis explosives case
Sep12

David Snyder pled no contest to all charges in UC Davis explosives case

Former University of California, Davis postdoctoral chemist David Snyder was headed to trial next month on 17 explosives, hazardous waste, and firearms charges stemming from a 2013 explosion in his campus apartment. At a hearing today that was supposed to deal with legal motions prior to an Oct. 20 trial start, Snyder pled no contest to all of the charges, according to an update from the Yolo County District Attorney’s office:...

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Legacy samples yield headaches
Sep09

Legacy samples yield headaches

Several safety breaches involving pathogens have brought attention to the problem of legacy samples. Vials of smallpox dating to the 1950s were discovered in unsecured Food & Drug Administation labs on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md., earlier this summer. Then, last week, the Washington Post reported that NIH workers found ricin, the bacteria that cause plague, and other so-called “select...

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Report released on New York high school fire
Jun27

Report released on New York high school fire

The New York Special Commissioner of Investigation yesterday released its report regarding the Beacon High School fire last January. The fire was widely reported to involve the “rainbow” flame test experiment. And indeed it did. And, as many suspected, this is what happened: Pool continued that, as she lit each Petri dish, a different color flame appeared. When the flames died out, the students asked Poole to conduct the...

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