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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 201060068 - Two Employees Suffer Eye Injuries From Nondirect Laser Light

Accident: 201060068 -- Report ID: 0950632 -- Event Date: 03/18/1996
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
12602054405/02/19968221Ucsd Dept Of Chemistry
At approximately 3:00 p.m. on March 18, 1996, Employee #1, an assistant project scientist working in the laboratory of Dr. Kent Wilson at the University of California at San Diego, was aligning a 50 Hz, 800 nm tera-watt laser system for an experiment. As he was viewing the laser focus through a chamber window, he became exposed to nondirect laser light. The approximate laser intensity was 3 watts at 50 Hz, producing about 60 mJoules/pulse of energy. During this brief period of alignment, Employee #1 had removed his protective eyewear. He suffered serious injury to both eyes that involved partial vision loss. After this incident, it was determined by the U.C.S.D. Environmental Health and Safety Department that two similar incidences had occurred earlier to another worker. Sometime on the evening of December 28, 1995, Employee #2, a research chemist in the same lab and a coworker of Employee #1, was performing the identical procedure as previously described. During the period of alignment, he removed his protective eyewear and suffered serious injury to both eyes involving partial vision loss. Employee #2 sought medical attention at a later date. The second incident occurred on March 16, 1996. Again, alignment of the laser into the chamber was being performed. When Employee #2 removed his safety glasses to view the focus, both of his eyes were again exposed to nondirect laser light. The intensity and power of the laser were approximately the same as noted for Employee #1. The causal factors for all three incidences were unsafe work practices and, more specifically, removing protective eyewear during the alignment of the 50 Hz, 800 nm tera-watt laser system. The accidents occurred at an academic research laboratory that specialized in laser science and, specifically, in the construction of high intensity, ultra-short laser and x-ray systems to view molecular dynamics.
Keywords: eye, protective clothing, ppe, work rules, laser
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 126020544 Non Hospitalized injury Radiation Effects Operations & systems researchers and analysts
2 126020544 Non Hospitalized injury Radiation Effects Operations & systems researchers and analysts

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