SALT LAKE CITY — Two University of Utah students suffered chemical burns in College of Engineering labs the past two years despite safety inspections that identified major deficiencies just before the incidents.

Not correcting the problems is reminiscent of inaction at other universities that led to severe injuries, including a death at UCLA, the past decade, according a Utah legislative audit released Tuesday.

The Office of the Legislative Auditor General says the deficiencies identified in the 64-page report show a “broken system” that puts lab workers at risk. The audit focused on the occupational hazards in U. academic labs.

“Though the university has not had a fatality, it has experienced serious accidents. Safety deficiencies need to be addressed to ensure future accidents are minimized,” according to the audit.

The two separate incidents within 13 months in the same research group at the U. engineering lab was “not surprising” based on a history of uncorrected safety hazards, auditors wrote.

The audit also identified inadequate safety practices in other academic labs, including the hepatitis B program, where records show some employees working for years without a vaccine they requested per Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

Also, the university is not following prescribed practices to perform …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories


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