Someone dies in a laboratory in the United States about once a year. This is far less than the number who die in steelworking, for example, but then again, there are more steelworkers than lab workers. One can argue over who has the higher death rate. Sometimes we forget that even one fatality is not an acceptable result, getting bogged down in numbers and neglecting the fact that “the fatality” was a real person.
To help combat this tendency to focus on numbers, the Laboratory Safety Institute (https://www.labsafety.org) has a Memorial Wallon its website listing the name of each victim (if known), year of death, and what details are known about the person’s death. Persons on the list range from Sheri Sangi, who died from exposure to hazardous chemicals in 2009, to historical figures such as Hopkins’ own Fredrick Baetjer, a pioneer in X-ray studies, who died in 1933 of chronic overexposure to X-radiation.
If you have questions about lab safety, contact Dr. Daniel Kuespert, Homewood Laboratory Safety Advocate, at [email protected]. See Dr. Kuespert’s website, https://labsafety.jhu.edu, for more safety information. As always, emergency response is available from Security at 410-516-7777.