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Rehab for (recovering) academics.
Why aren't professors and universities liable for the death of students? 
7th-Aug-2014 03:54 pm
pic#111812164 bunsen burner

A recent article in Chemistry World reminded me of an earlier blog post about the death of the student Sheri Shangji in a chemistry laboratory. The blog post describes that basically, if a student is killed in a university laboratory, neither the professor concerned nor the university are liable to any significance. Ignoring an example such as the Union Carbide Bhopal disaster, it seems incredulous that universities are not liable (as other entities throughout the private sector )for the safety of students (also echoed by other departments elsewhere, at least according to another blog post. Is anyone aware of a similar case elsewhere, e.g. within EU and if so, how does European state and EU laws compare?

12th-Aug-2014 01:10 am (UTC)
Yep, committees and paperwork suck.

"You can't write such a comprehensive guide to cover all the bullshit students get up to."

At my workplace we call them "PTA (pre-task analysis) cards". And yes, we're supposed to have them for every process (including sitting down on a lab stool and walking). Individuals from interns to scientists can write them, and then they are sent to EH&S for review and incorporation into the master book. People are supposed to periodically look at the PTA card master book and download, read, and periodically review every card relevant to what they work on. For every new-to-you process you're supposed to download the relevant PTA card, or write a new one up and submit it before doing the process.

With particularly dangerous processes I think you're supposed to read, sign, and date a hardcopy of the card each time before performing the process.

Any near miss or actual event may lead to a new PTA card getting written up, or the current one getting revised, if necessary.

None of this stops people who just don't care, but I recall that the relevant metrics have noticeably improved over the years.

What the heck, I'll shill for them: http://safety.dow.com/en
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