CSB issues report on Texas Tech lab incident

October 26, 2011

Denver – The Chemical Safety Board recently called for stronger safety measures at university laboratories in a case study that examined a January 2010 laboratory explosion at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

According to the case study (.pdf file), released Oct. 19, the explosion occurred when a graduate student was grinding an explosive compound for research funded by the Department of Homeland Security. The student lost three fingers and suffered burns and eye damage when the material detonated. CSB cited a lack of organizational accountability and safety oversight at the university.

The case study lists lessons for universities, such as ensuring research hazards are evaluated and controlled by developing written protocols and training. Additionally, CSB urged OSHA to issue a safety bulletin on controlling physical hazards of chemicals in academic labs, and recommended that Texas Tech revise its Chemical Hygiene Plan, develop an incident and near-miss reporting system, and share lessons learned from all lab incidents and near misses.

CSB also released a video depicting three serious school lab incidents.