June 27, 2012
The status of the investigation into the 2010 incident at the Texas Tech University Chemistry Building that injured a graduate student has been changed to “Open-Acceptable Response” by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB).
The status change came in a letter from the CSB. In the letter, Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairperson of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, informs Texas Tech officials that “…the status change reflects the Board’s determination that TTU has planned and initiated actions that appear consistent with the intent of the recommendations. We appreciate that TTU’s newly established Institutional Laboratory Safety Committee is working to both revise the university’s chemical hygiene plan and to develop an incident and near-miss reporting system.
Please continue to keep us abreast of TTU’s efforts to implement the CSB’s recommendations. We look forward to seeing TTU’s revised CHP and incident and near-miss reporting system.”
On Jan. 7, 2010, an accident in a laboratory in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry left a graduate student seriously injured. The student was working with energetic materials in greater quantities than was prudent. He also was working outside of a hood, without a blast shield and without personal protective wear.
The CSB investigated the incident and in October 2011 issued a report with two recommendations:
“The CSB’s change in our status is good news, but we still have a long way to go,” said Taylor Eighmy, senior vice president for research. “The CSB’s investigation is not closed. It remains open, but the CSB is signaling that we are making good progress in meeting their recommendations.”
In addition to the CSB’s recommendations, Texas Tech President Guy Bailey imposed additional recommendations:
“Texas Tech is making good progress on these recommendations,” said Alice Young, associate vice president for research/research integrity. “In the aftermath of the incident, the university made it a stated goal that we become an exemplar in our campus climate and culture around laboratory and studio safety. Our May 2012 report to the CSB outlined multiple initiatives that many groups, including the new Institutional Laboratory Safety Committee, departments, and the Faculty Senate, will continue working on in the coming year.”
The Office of the Vice President for Research has created a website that details the university’s response and ongoing action in the wake of the CSB’s investigation.
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