Needle Stick Mindfulness & Infectious Agent Exposure

Summary A Postdoctoral Scholar was handling the blood of infectious agent exposed mice outside of a biosafety cabinet. While trying to expel blood from the syringe into an Eppendorf tube the blood apparently dried in the needle tip.  When the researcher exerted additional pressure to expel the blood. The needle disconnected and the tip of … Continued


Mercury Spill in Lab Oven

Summary A mercury oven thermometer break occurred when heating the oven, resulting in a mercury spill. The thermometer was in a drying oven when it broke as the oven was coming up to temperature. The lab group had used the thermometer several times up to 50 °C, but they were taking the oven up to … Continued

Lessons Learned

Laser-Ignited Acetone Fire in a Laboratory

Summary A Laser Ablation Synthesis experiment was taking place in acetone solution with Aluminum metal as target in the solution.  A focusing plano-convex lens was used. The lens was adjusted to the height of the beaker such that a laser flux (beam spot size) was on the target. For adjusting the laser position in xy … Continued

Lessons Learned

Furnace Experiment Sample Tube Failure

Summary An older sample tube being used in a furnace containing tungsten selenide (SDS warning: Acutely Toxic by Inhalation – GHS Category 3) failed releasing a small reddish-colored cloud into the air.  The student immediately turned off the oven and departed the lab. EHS was notified and immediately reported to the scene. Upon arrival, EHS … Continued


Exothermic Reaction: Acryloyl Chloride Near Miss

Summary A small volume (~ 20 mL total volume) reaction “exothermed” and sprayed out the top of the reaction vessel. The reaction consisted of 10 mL of cyclopentadiene and 9.5 mL of acryloyl chloride in a 50 mL round bottom flask. The reaction took place in a chemical fume hood; however, the sash panels were … Continued


Vivarium Fire Alarm Equipment

Summary During the Fire & Life Safety (FLS) coordination of a fire drill at the Jessie Harris Building, a faculty member expressed extreme concern about the impact the fire alarm system would have on his animal research involving mice.  He objected strongly to the fire drill performance stating that he would lose a month of … Continued

Lessons Learned

Propane Release from Laboratory Gas Valve

Summary A weekend custodial crew was performing a comprehensive cleaning of a laboratory in preparation for the space to be occupied by a newly hired Principle Investigator. In addition to the areas routinely cleaned, the staff was instructed to clean the bench-tops inside a cold room located within the laboratory space.  During the process of … Continued


UV Light Exposure in Air-Handling Unit

Summary A Facilities staff member responded to a service request requiring work in an air-handling unit (AHU) equipped with UV lights. The UV lights were part of a pilot project to evaluate their performance and ability to prevent fungal growth on cooling coils. This was the only AHU on campus currently equipped with this type … Continued


Potential Release of Phosgene from Old Chloroform

Summary August 2020: A laboratory worker opened a bottle containing ~3L un-stabilized chloroform on the bench top. Upon opening, a noticeable vapor cloud was released from the bottle. Suspecting that the vapor cloud may be phosgene, the laboratory worker immediately closed the bottle and placed it in the chemical fume hood. Upon carefully reading the … Continued

Lab (Chem/Bio/Rad)

Acid Neutralization Systems – Lab Debris

Summary Acid neutralization tanks or pits serve every lab building on the UTK campus. They adjust pH before being discharged into the sanitary sewer. They require maintenance of the neutralization material as well as removal of solid waste materials that may accumulate. Some individual labs may have a small under-bench system. An incident occurred with … Continued

Lessons Learned