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New UT Committee for Lab Safety on Campus

Laboratory accidents are not only a threat to the safety of our students, faculty and staff, but the media exposure can be a threat to the reputation of an institution as well.

January 7, 2010, chemistry laboratory explosion at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.

January 7, 2010, chemistry laboratory explosion at Texas Tech University. Photo by U.S. Chemical Safety Board

Texas Tech University

Four people were taken to the hospital for minor injuries following a chemical explosion at a Texas Tech University chemistry building on February 2, 2015. A university spokesperson confirmed that the explosion was caused by chemical waste products.

This was the fourth such recent incident at TTU:

What UT is Doing

The Office of Research and Engagement would like to assure the UT, Knoxville community that they are working collaboratively to identify and prevent similar risks on our campus.

The Laboratory Safety and Workplace Committee has been formed to assess and mitigate such risks on campus. Governor’s Chair Terry Hazan was selected as the faculty chairperson and is leading efforts to have a community of safety specialists and liaisons from all appropriate departments to participate in regular discussions.

There is also an effort to engage committee participation to review and approve the use of hazardous chemicals. Our compliance and safety culture is improving through these shared governance mechanisms.

For questions about the Environmental Health and Safety program, you may contact Mark Smith, director of EHS. To find campus policies, visit Policy Central and conduct a search.

(* Following the 2011 incidents, TTU conducted an audit of lab safety procedures. The results of the audit were released in 2014.)