Lessons Learned

Reports on incidents that involve injury, exposure (real or potential), or significant damage property. Lessons Learned detail what happened and how similar incidents can be avoided in the future.

Resources and Guides

Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

A JSA describes job tasks in step-by-step fashion, identifies associated hazards at each step, and outlines proper hazard controls that minimize the risk of injury or illness to the individual(s) performing that task.

JSAs Listed by Topic: Body Mechanics |...

Workplace Safety

California state regulations require every employer to establish, implement and maintain an effective Injury & Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). In August 2017, the University adopted a campuswide Workplace Safety Program that serves as the University’s central IIPP for creating a safe and healthful work environment. Having one program for the whole University helps to improve access, consistency, and usability across all departments. EH&S is the responsible department for overseeing the campuswide Workplace Safety Program. The campus Workplace Safety Program is based on the Injury...

Improper Labeling Causes Injury from Acid Spray

September 30, 2004
What Happened?

A UC Berkeley researcher was preparing a sample for microscopy. After he had cleaned the sample with isopropanol, he poured the extra isopropanol into a container for unwanted chemicals labeled “isopropanol.” There was an immediate chemical reaction that caused the plastic container to rupture and spray the mixture around the area. He was later surprised to learn that the container actually held concentrated nitric acid in the form of spent copper etchant.

The researcher was startled and called for help. Other researchers promptly came to his assistance and called 911...

Biological Safety

Providing support, in the form of risk assessment, review, consultation and training, for research at UC Berkeley that involves the use of recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials and biological toxins.

Biosafety How Do I: collapse all...

Employee's Toes Crushed by Falling Compressed Gas Cylinder

March 31, 2007
What Happened?

In February 2007, a University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) researcher was loading a gas cylinder on a two-cylinder cart when the previously loaded cylinder fell and crushed his toes.

What was the cause of the accident? What were the contributing factors?

The most likely cause of this accident is the fact that this two-cylinder cart had no means to secure both cylinders independently. Therefore, when positioning the second cylinder on the cart, there was no way to secure the first cylinder. Loading the second cylinder puts the...

Job Safety Analysis (JSA) Library

Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

A JSA describes job tasks in step-by-step fashion, identifies associated hazards at each step, and outlines proper hazard controls that minimize the risk of injury or illness to the individual(s) performing that task.

Fact Sheets

Fact Sheets

EH&S Fact Sheets serve as campus-wide Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

Chemical Explosion Causes Eye Injury

May 31, 2015

ANSI-approved safety glasses—and other personal protective equipment specified in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)—are essential whenever working with hazardous materials. SOPs also indicate other precautions that must be followed to ensure safety, such as performing work with energetic or explosive materials behind a fume hood sash or blast shield.

What happened?

A graduate student researcher was working at a laboratory bench synthesizing approximately one gram of diazonium perchlorate crystals. The student was transferring synthesized perchlorate using a metal spatula...

Eye Exposure to Specular and Diffuse Reflections

October 17, 2016
What happened?

A student conducting a physics experiment was briefly exposed to specular and diffuse reflections from a continuous wave 975 nm invisible laser beam while not wearing laser eye protection. The student was applying oil to an objective lens with a glass stick when it was noted that the laser was still on. The student was immediately referred to the optometry clinic and was promptly examined. No eye damage was found.

What went right?

The student immediately stopped work and alerted their professor as soon as...

Nitric Acid Waste Over-pressurization Event

July 3, 2018
What happened?

A graduate student researcher was consolidating aqueous nitric acid solutions into a 4-L bottle marked as hazardous waste. The bottle was stored inside a fume hood along with other waste bottles, organic reagent bottles, a hotplate and an oil bath. The fume hood sash was left open when all researchers left at the end of the day.

Several hours later, a custodian entered the lab and saw broken glass and brown liquid on the floor. It appears that the nitric acid waste was stored in a bottle that contained residual organic compounds, the combination of which generated...