Safety is a vital part of a successful research program. In this section, we will share information to help you be safe in your work environment – maybe a new program offered by the Office of Research Safety, or tips for how to perform a common procedure safely or like today, an article highlighting the need for vigilance in our work.

Recently, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii-Manoa lost her right arm, sustained burns to her face and partial hearing loss after a laboratory explosion involving a hydrogen/oxygen gas mixture. The experiment used hydrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide gases for the green production of bioplastics and biofuels. The immediate cause of the accident was traced to the digital pressure gauge which acted as a path to ground for a static charge that ignited the hydrogen/oxygen gas mixture contained within a 13 gallon (50 liter) pressure tank.

The accident investigation reports provide valuable insights for us to consider:

Does your lab have a procedure where a thorough hazard review is conducted prior to a scale up or other significant change in the research method?  The Office of Research Safety has staff and resources available to assist researchers in the hazard review process.

How are team members informed of the change?

How is the hazard review and communication of the new procedure documented?

You’ll find a link below to the accident investigation reports.  Please review the reports and think about the potential hazards in your research.