Incidents Accidents and Near Misses

A Mouse and a Needlestick

“A Mouse and a Needlestick” featured in Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research, Volume 3, tells a real-life story about what can happen when safety procedures aren’t followed in animal care facilities. Read on to learn what happens:

I had just started a new job in an Animal Care Facility at an academic research lab in the heart of Kendall Square. I had three years of lab experience. I was confident in my new role and new procedures. I learned the hard way that I was overconfident.

A New Procedure

During my first month of on-the-job training, I learned how to do intraperitoneal (IP) injections into the body cavities of mice. We were working with a blank carrier and with a pretty potent chemical that basically stimulates the blood stem cells to evacuate the bone marrow. We did this to collect bone cells.

I’d done the IP Injection three or four times with no problems. So, […]

OSHA Safe + Sound Week: Never Underestimate the Importance of Fall Protection

To honor OSHA’s 2020 Safe+Sound Week we are sharing another story from our recently released Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Lab Research, Vol. 5.  

Violations related to fall protection have been #1 on OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations list for 9 consecutive years.

An excerpt from Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Lab Research, Vol. 5

Never Underestimate the Importance of Fall Protection

It was the day before Thanksgiving. I was looking forward to having a few days off to hang out with my family, relax, and eat delicious food. I was doing some last-minute measurements for a new pH pit at work. The pit is essentially a tank that holds wastewater while the pH is adjusted to a neutral level, before it can be drained back into the municipal water system. I was measuring the old pit, so that we would know what kind of capacity we would need for the new one. It was a simple task that would take only a […]

Don’t Be So Sensitive: Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Lab Research

Safety Partners is thrilled to announce the publication of its 5th edition of 

“Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research.” 

This collection of real life safety lessons has just been mailed to clients and many friends.  Look for it in your (actual) mailbox!

To celebrate this milestone 5th publication, we are sharing a full story here, written by

Kristin Garland, CIH, Associate Director, Industrial Hygiene and QRT at Safety Partners.

Request your copy at

Don’t be so sensitive…

Working as a safety officer, I can interact with many laboratory professionals, at all different levels, and people of highly diverse backgrounds. When providing chemical training to clients, one thing I always talk about is chemical sensitivities. Many people don’t realize that some people are inherently more sensitive to chemicals than others [1]. Just as some people have the ability to taste PTC (phenylthiocarbamide — a compound that tastes very bitter to people […]

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

Prevent Blindness, the nation’s first eye health and vision care nonprofit organization, has deemed March as Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Did you know that thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries? According to the CDC, each day about 2,000 U.S. employees sustain a work-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. About one third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments, and more than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days away from work.

How do eye injuries happen to workers? The majority of eye injuries result from small foreign objects or flying particles getting in the eye. Large objects may also strike the eye or a worker may run into an object causing blunt-force eye trauma. Many eye injuries are also caused by chemical burns from chemicals such as acids and caustics as well as workplace cleaning products.

The encouraging news is that approximately 90% of eye injuries that occur in the workplace are […]

The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done in the Lab – IANM 2014, Volume 1

This story is included in the inaugural 2014 edition of Safety Partners’ publication, “Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses in Laboratory Research.”


It was 2004. I was the director of biochemistry in our lab. We were studying a protein called decorin isolated from the cornea of cows. It was a while ago but my memories of the event are still very vivid since it happened the day before Game 1 of the World Series, Sox versus Cardinals.

Decorin regulates the organization of collagen bundles or collagen fibers in the eyes. Your cornea is principally made up of collagen but unlike skin or other tissues, the thickness of the fibers and their arrangement with respect to one another are precisely controlled, aligned in such a way that the cornea is allowed to be transparent.

If decorin is not present or doesn’t perform its function then the cornea actually becomes opaque. This is a huge problem in a variety of diseases where corneas become injured, scarred, or infected […]

January 27th, 2016|Categories: Insights|Tags: |

National Safety Stand-Down

Have Ladderyou heard that May 4-15, 2015 marks the second annual National Safety Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction?  OSHA began this awareness campaign due to falls from elevation being the leading cause of death for construction workers.

Employers from any industry are encouraged to participate in this event by holding a Safety Stand-Down to review fall hazards and the importance of fall prevention, but what does that mean? OSHA says that a Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety.  This can encompass training, holding toolbox talks, demonstrations, inspecting safety equipment, showing videos, or any other means to reach out to employees and gain their attention.  There are fall prevention resources available on OSHA’s website to support employers in their efforts.

If you have not already done so, now is the time to review your fall prevention program to evaluate the types of falls […]

The Physics of Safety?

Is the following true?

The risk of a safety incident occurring, Rs, is inversely proportional to the proximity to physical safety, Pps, multiplied by the proximity to cognitive safety, Pcs.

Examples of physical safety include equipment, processes, and tools such as safety glasses, protective gloves, fume hoods, respirators, hazardous material accumulation areas, exits, etc.  Examples of cognitive safety include the functions of the working memory such as remembering biosafety training, self-checking for safety before taking a reagent off the shelf before performing a lab procedure, looking for the “near miss”, listening to one’s instinct, mindfully working to prevent lax patterns of behavior, etc.

Proximity can be thought of in terms of the distance between you and the tools of physical safety (e.g., how far is it to my safety glasses?) and the time between you and the mindfulness of cognitive safety (e.g., when was the last time I took a moment to recall potential pitfalls like fire, inhalation, contact risk, etc., that could result in injury […]

Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses – Titanium: Beautiful but Dangerous

This report is part of the Safety Partners’ “Incidents, Accidents, and Near Misses” series. We are gathering information about incidents in laboratories and small-scale manufacturing operations from public and private sources in order to analyze and share lessons learned with the scientific and engineering community.


Last week, an explosion at a small-scale powder metallurgy manufacturing company in Woburn, MA, caused a fire and a serious injury to an employee. Local news reported that the employee was airlifted to Mass General Hospital with third degree burns over 90% of his body. What caused the explosion and fire? The information remains fragmented as OSHA and other investigators complete their analysis, but local news sources report the worker was removing titanium dust with a vacuum that was not properly grounded. The vacuum cleaner sparked, causing the titanium dust to explode.

What are some lessons learned? First, let’s understand the chemistry. Titanium is a beautiful material, both lightweight and strong, but the dust can be dangerous. Titanium is […]