Friday, April 15, 2011



Tragically, a Yale student was killed in a school chemistry lab accident when her long hair got caught in a fast-spinning lathe. She was killed by accidental asphyxia by neck compression. She was due to graduate in about a month. The Sterling Chemistry Laboratory machine shop is a state-of-the-art facility to support the building and modification of research instruments. Only students who completed a shop safety course had access. Due to the accident, access to lab machinery facilities is limited until a review of procedures was completed. The lab and classes were cancelled. Yale is offering counseling to students. OSHA is conducting an inspection and investigation to determine if the lab complied with safety standards. The Yale Police are conducting an investigation to determine if any laws were broken.

Final Comment: Like all fatal accidents, this is a tragedy. Any loss of life especially a young student a month from graduation makes one wonder, how could this happen? One general safety rule is the two person rule. Hindsight is 20 /20, but the purpose of studying accidents after the fact is to learn from the mistakes or tragedies of others. In a lab or any facility where someone can be injured or killed, there should be no lone individual. A second set of eyes,  a second brain in the room, or another person's intuition can sometimes (not always) be a lifesaver. While another individual in the room may not have prevented this tragic accident, it may have provided prompt assistance and first response to help her.

No comments: