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09-43-NEW/BOS 2009-020
Thurs., Jan. 22, 2009
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074


U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA issues 9 serious citations to University of Rochester laser lab following August 2008 accident that seriously injured worker

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics for nine alleged serious safety violations and proposed $56,700 in fines against the laboratory as a result of an Aug. 6, 2008, accident that seriously injured an employee.

The employee was servicing a pressurized diagnostic device for the OMEGA laser known as the Light Pipe when it exploded. OSHA's inspection found deficiencies regarding the design, installation and operator training for the Light Pipe and the compressed gas system of which it was a part. OSHA has cited the lab for failing to safeguard employees against recognized explosion hazards associated with assembly, disassembly, pressurizing, evacuating and monitoring activities for the Light Pipe.

"While this machinery is singular, the underlying safety concerns are basic and vital," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Effective steps must be taken and maintained to eliminate any conditions that could contribute to a recurrence of this unfortunate and grave accident. One element of this could be an effective safety and health management system through which employees and management work together to evaluate, identify and eliminate workplace hazards."

Specifically, the laboratory has been cited for failing to keep the Light Pipe gas tight or provide it with a pressure relief device to prevent an instantaneous uncontrolled gas leak; failing to have the compressed gas system designed by a competent person; an improper gas pressure regulating device; housing the compressed gas cylinder in a place where it was exposed to damage; improper installation of the platform plate from which the Light Pipe was attached; having unqualified persons work on the compressed gas system; lack of eye, face and hand protection; and not evaluating the work area for hazards.

OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. The laboratory has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and fines to meet with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office; telephone 716-551-3053.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.


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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.
OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

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