Tuesday, June 23, 2009

UCLA lab Trainee Dies, Family Criticizes Investigation

People dealing with dangerous chemicals and substances must have sufficient training in handling the same. For trainees or apprentices, strict supervision is necessary. Moreover, equipment that would be used in the experiment, procedure or process must be functioning properly.

Improper or unsupervised handling of hazardous chemical may result to accidents such as fire and burn. In a tragic incident that happened at UCLA, an unsupervised trainee suffered severe burn injuries when an experiment gone badly.

Sheri Sangji, a staff research assistant at UCLA, died of burn injury eighteen days after an experiment with air sensitive chemicals burst into flames. Shanji was neither wearing a protective lab coat nor supervised at the time of the accident.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) cited UCLA for three violations and ask to pay a fine of $3, 185 for each violation. The penalty was imposed upon finding that Sangji was improperly trained and not wearing protective clothing when the accident happened.

Dissatisfied with the findings, Sangji’s family appealed alleging that the violations should be considered “willful” and “repeat” thereby increasing the penalty to $70,000 each. Moreover, they also claimed that the state board failed to investigate regarding the safety of the equipment used or method used in the experiment.

Burn injuries as a cause of death are painful and horrific. This must be the reason why families of burn victims partake on a legal battle to seek justice. A wrongful death case may be filed against the school and all others who might be responsible for it.

A personal injury lawyer would be helpful in alleviating the pain and suffering of burn victims and their families by pursuing a case against them. Though filing a case would never make things normal, at least parties at fault could be taught a lesson.