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Research associate dies from burns sustained while working with a pyrophoric chemical.

Public Health Institute
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 09CA001, 2009 Aug; :1-4
A 23-year-old female research associate died from burn injuries sustained in a research laboratory fire. The victim was using a syringe and needle to extract a pyrophoric chemical (t-butyl lithium) from a bottle. The plunger came out of the syringe barrel and the t-butyl lithium ignited on contact with room air. The chemical splashed onto the victim's clothing and set them on fire. She was not wearing a laboratory coat at the time of the incident. There was no written documentation that the victim had received formal training on the safe use of pyrophoric chemicals. The CA/FACE investigator determined that in order to prevent future incidents, employers with research laboratories should ensure that: 1.) Laboratory personnel follow proper procedures when using pyrophoric chemicals. 2.) Laboratory personnel wear appropriate clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with pyrophoric chemicals. 3.) Whenever possible, laboratory personnel consider the use of alternative chemicals that are not pyrophoric.
Region-9; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Burns; Chemical-burns; Chemical-properties; Chemical-synthesis; Fire-hazards; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Laboratory-techniques; Laboratory-work; Protective-measures; Safety-clothing; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-practices; Training; Traumatic-injuries; Work-areas; Work-operations; Work-practices
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-09CA001; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008468
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Public Health Institute
Page last reviewed: November 12, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division