Tennessee Student Accidents & Overlooked Lab Risks

Students need to learn about science in high school and in college, and often the best way to learn is hands-on experiments in a lab setting. Unfortunately, labs can also be dangerous places and can be the site of many student accidents. An experienced attorney at Meade Injury Law Group is experienced in fighting for the rights of students injured at school.

Lab accident cases can sometimes be complicated at the college level because it may be unclear whether the student is to be treated as a lab worker covered by workers’ compensation or as a student who was hurt while doing research as part of his or her academic program. Your attorney can help you to determine the best way to take legal action and obtain compensation for losses.

Dangers in School Labs Can Put Students at Risk

According to Scientific America, a safety expert writing in the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety said: “most academic laboratories are unsafe venues for work or study.”

This assertion was made after several high profile tragic accidents occurred in which students or teachers were interviewed in a lab setting. For example, a 23-year-old lab technician was doing work in a UCLA lab wearing a sweatshirt and no lab coat. She was working with a volatile liquid called t-butyl lithium that is a pyrophoric. The liquid could catch fire when exposed to air.

The equipment that she was working with malfunctioned and the fluid spilled. As a result, the synthetic fibers of her sweatshirt caught on fire and she suffered catastrophic burns. Two postdocs who were working in the lab with her tried to provide assistance but did not know what to do and failed to get her to the nearby shower. Emergency personnel arrived too late to save the lab techs life, and she spent 18 days in the burn unit in a local hospital before she passed away.

While perhaps an extreme case, other fatalities have also occurred at Cleveland State University, Dartmouth College, and the University of Chicago. And a critical injury also occurred in a lab at Texas Tech University. The total number of injuries and deaths that have occurred in high school and college labs is likely much higher, but it is unclear exactly how many have died. This is because injury and fatality incidents in academic labs are not tracked as a separate or distinct category. Further, many incidents go unreported when they do not result in death.

There is reason to believe that there are a high number of potential safety violations in academic labs, as OSHA has identified life-threatening safety violations when conducting investigations. Unfortunately, unlike in private industry, promotions and performance reviews may not necessarily have a line item for safety, so management may not be held accountable.

When a lab is unsafe and those in charge fail to protect students who are doing experiments, the school may potentially be held accountable for losses. An experienced attorney can help after student accidents.

Meade Injury Law Group serves Johnson City and the Tri-Cities. Contact us today at 1-800-669-7125  or visit http://www.injury-lawyer-tn.com.

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