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Accident Report Detail

Accident: 170180061 - Two Employees Burned When Ethanol Ignites

Accident: 170180061 -- Report ID: 0950642 -- Event Date: 10/31/1990
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
11206351610/31/19908733Usc School Of Pharmacy
Employees #1 and #2 were carrying out a chemical reaction on an open lab countertop. This was a hydrogenation reaction starting with material dissolved in ethanol, using hydrogen, and with palladium as a catalyst. The mixture ignited in the beaker, either from contact with oxygen, or from the heat of the reaction with the hydrogen. The beaker exploded with a small "pop" and ethanol was propelled onto both employees. The ethanol ignited, and Employees #1 and #2 ran to the emergency shower in the hallway, only to have the chain come off in their hands. They finally were able to extinguish the flames in the second emergency shower, but not before suffering third-degree burns on their arms, torsos, and thighs. The employees had not carried out the reaction before with this amount of material.
Keywords: burn, hydrogen, flammable liquid, torso, equipment failure, ethanol, chemical reaction, arm, leg
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 112063516 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Chemists, except biochemists
2 112063516 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Clinical Laboratory technologists and technicians

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