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OSHA Investigates Lab Explosion at Plano Hospital

When employers require their employees to work with chemicals, it is important that they know what kind of reaction that chemical could have in certain conditions. After gaining an understanding of certain chemicals from government reports and other widely accepted scientific literature, they should take steps to train employees in how to handle these materials. If an employer fails to do this, employees could unknowingly end up in dangerous situations.

Unfortunately, this may have been what happened at a hospital in Plano recently. An employee of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital suffered burns to the hands and face while working in a lab. Reports say the worker was in a basement lab when a flash fire occurred. The chlorine dioxide that the employee was cleaning with exploded.

The employee survived the explosion, but firefighters say he or she is lucky to be alive. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, chlorine dioxide is extremely flammable and can easily explode in a number of warm conditions -- including sunlight. OSHA added that several common materials can also cause an explosive reaction with the chemical. Why the hospital allowed this chemical to be used for cleaning is unclear.

Unfortunately, this is a case in which better employee training could have prevented a serious accident. Employees should not be exposed to risks like this, and if they must be for their work, they should be well-equipped to handle the situation. Hopefully Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital will re-evaluate its training program and safety protocols to ensure that employees and patients alike are kept out of harm's way.

Source: NBC DFW, "1 Injured in Hospital Lab Explosion: Fire Officials Say," Frank Heinz, March 25, 2013

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