Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Rory Waterman

Second Advisor

Paul Bierman


Laboratory safety has recently become more of an imperative in research laboratories than it has ever been in the past. Recent accidents at several universities have escalated the awareness of safety concerns in laboratory workspaces among the general public and created a greater need for a stronger culture of safety in chemistry research overall. Historically, results and publications have been the top priority of most researchers, not laboratory safety.

This thesis discusses a number of laboratory accidents. The first happened in December of 2008 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and resulted in the death of a graduate student researcher. Many safety concerns and violations contributed to the fatality. The second accident happened in June of 2014 at the University of Minnesota (UMN). This incident involved an explosion in a fume hood that caused injuries to the researcher as well as a great deal of damage to the hood and experimental setup. Various minor incidents at the University of Vermont (UVM) are also discussed with regards to the effects on laboratory safety at the university.

Universities around the country have been able to learn from these accidents in order to prevent similar occurrences in the future. These accidents and their safety ramifications at UCLA, UMN, and UVM are the focus of this thesis. The safety programs at each of these universities are examined and compared with respect to how the incidents have facilitated necessary changes. Finally, future goals and opportunities for the safety program at UVM are suggested.



Number of Pages

83 p.