Month: February 2021

Lessons Learned Database

Understanding previous incidents, close calls, or potential shortcomings is crucial to not only establishing, but maintaining a safe lab environment. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) OPEXShare Lessons Learned database is a fantastic resource to find the most up-to-date news regarding safety errors and investigations from labs across the country. 

To access the database, first go to opexshare.doe.govHere you will not only find the Lessons Learned database, but also a collection of recent news stories and other content regarding lab safety. Once on the homepage, click the “Lessons Learned” banner which will redirect you to the database. From here, you can sort through lessons with categories such as type, topic, and site/group.  

Some of the more than 2800 lessons in the database include pressure vessel failure events and improper labeling. There is likely to be a situation or topic relevant to your lab.  

Why Not to Trust Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) like safety goggles and lab coats should not be trusted to protect you from harm. This is because they depend on the wearer to maintain and wear them properly in order for them to function effectively. No person can be relied upon to always, 100% of the time wear his or her PPE properly—or even at all!

Additionally, PPE itself is not 100% effective. A large fraction of eye injuries happen to people who were not wearing the proper eye protection (or were wearing it incorrectly). If you think about this, it also means that some eye injuries occur even when the victim is wearing appropriate eye protection! Imagine a chemical splash that dislodges the goggles from your face as an example.

Do not depend on PPE as your only defense against an incident unless you cannot avoid it. If you have a close call in which your PPE is tested—perhaps a flying part intercepted by your safety glasses—you should re-examine the various hazard controls protecting you, because you came very close to an injury. PPE is your last safety barrier; if it fails, you will have an incident.

If you have questions about PPE and your different layers of hazard control, contact Dr. Daniel Kuespert, Homewood Laboratory Safety Advocate, at [email protected]. See Dr. Kuespert’s website,, for more safety information. As always, emergency response is available from Security at 410-516-7777.