Campus Health and Safety
January 2014
Experience Sharing on Research and Laboratory Safety at University of California

A tragic fatal laboratory accident happened at the end of 2008 at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Both the University of California (UC) system and the faculty member in charge were later prosecuted for criminal offence. The repercussion of this case was felt not only in North America universities, but also campuses around the world. HSEO invited Mr Larry Wong, EH&S Program Manager, University of California Office of the President, to visit HKUST from 18 to 21 November 2013. Mr Wong shared his wealth of experience in managing environment, health and safety programs across the UC system in a seminar on 21 November 2013. 

More than 60 colleagues, including Unit Heads, Departmental Safety Officers, faculty members and researchers, attended this special seminar on laboratory safety. Mr Wong reviewed the fatal laboratory accident at UCLA in 2008, including the cause of this tragic accident involving a highly flammable and self-igniting (pyrophoric) liquid, safety deficiencies later identified, and subsequent legal actions taken against the whole UC system and the faculty supervisor of the victim. He described in detail a series of laboratory safety improvement measures implemented under an agreement between UC and the authority, including improved safety training, enforcing use of personal protective equipment, as well as developing and documenting standard operating procedures (SOPs) for specific laboratory chemicals. Mr Wong also visited selected laboratories at HKUST during his visit, and shared some observations based on his wealth of experience in occupational safety and health regulatory agency. His 90 minutes talk was followed by an active question and answer session of about 30 minutes.
It was a rare opportunity for us to learn first-hand about the UC research and laboratory safety experience. We believe colleagues who attended found the seminar useful, some of them actually asked for access to the presentation materials afterwards.
Mr Wong has kindly agreed to share his Powerpoint file with us, which can be accessed at the link below. Please do not further distribute or quote the materials without consent of the author.
A video of the first hour of the seminar is also available on-line (unfortunately due to technical problem, the rest of the seminar was not captured).
We hope by sharing the video and presentation file, colleagues who could not make it to the special seminar can still benefit from the valuable experience sharing on research and laboratory safety.