May 5, 2009

State fines UCLA in fatal lab fire 

Cal/OSHA cites safety lapses and lack of training in imposing $31,875 penalty.  (PDF version)

By Kim Christensen May 5, 2009

State regulators ... fined UCLA more than $31,000 for three "serious" violations of workplace safety laws in the fatal burning of a staff research assistant in a Dec. 29 chemistry lab fire.  ...  The findings by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health concluded that the lab researcher had not been properly trained and was not wearing protective clothing when an experiment exploded, spreading second- and third-degree burns over 43% of her body. She died 18 days later.  ... Cal/OSHA also cited UCLA for not addressing deficiencies noted in an internal safety inspection two months before the fatal fire in professor Patrick Harran's organic chemistry laboratory, including a finding that workers were not wearing lab coats. 

(the researcher)....  was transferring about two ounces of t-butyl lithium from one sealed container to another when a plastic syringe came apart in her hands, splashing her with a chemical compound that ignites instantly when exposed to air. The resulting flash fire set ablaze her rubber gloves and synthetic sweater.

The fine  ... included $18,000 for the fact that she wasn't wearing a lab coat, which might have kept her highly flammable sweater from catching fire. ...  after the fire,  ...  told a UCLA investigator that ... had been trained how to do it. But  ... did not know when that training occurred and had no record of it, as required by Cal/OSHA and UCLA lab safety standards. ....

... Two months before the fire, an annual safety inspection conducted ... uncovered more than two dozen deficiencies in ... the labs   .  ...  inspectors found excessive amounts of flammable liquids, and workers who lacked the required lab coats and other required safety gear, ... rubber gloves and eye protection.  ...

Details are on line at,0,6665233.story


May 4 2009

UCLA Fined For Fatal Lab Fire, Poor Training

UCLA has been fined nearly $32,000 for safety violations stemming from a lab explosion that killed a research assistant.  ...  The state found that 23-year-old worker had not been trained properly and was not wearing protective clothing when she was burned over 43 percent of her body on Dec 29 in a campus chemistry laboratory.  ... Details reported May 4 2009 at


May 5, 2009

Changes since fatal fire

Source: UCLA. Reported May 5, 2009 Reported at,0,3588360.story