Nitric acid burn

Incident Overview: 

The researcher was closing a concentrated nitric acid bottle in the fume hood, when a small drop of nitric acid flew from the lid of the bottle to the student's arm. The acid was in contact with the skin for less than 15 seconds, which caused a small chemical burn on the forearm that was about 1 cm by 0.5 cm in size. The wound was immediately irrigated with tap water for 10 minutes and the researcher proceeded to Mt Nittany Medical Center ER to have the wound inspected. The wound was characterized as a first/second degree burn and the ER professionals dressed the burn with neosporin and a band-aid. 

Root Cause: 

The researcher was not wearing a lab coat to protect arms and torso, even though the researcher was wearing goggles and gloves and was working with the hood sash down. 

Preventative Actions: 

All researchers in the (Research group's) lab are required to wear lab coats, goggles, and face shields when working with concentrated acids, concentrated bases, caustic chemicals, and organic solvents. A zero tolerance policy will be implemented in our labs such that any personnel caught without PPE will be permanently banned from working in our (Research group's) labs. 

The individual will be banned from laboratory activity if caught without PPE in the future. Within the month, one of the group meetings will be devoted to discussing the use of PPE at all times in the lab. 

With the dissolution of the group in three different locations remote from one another, we will need to pay particular attention to ensure that students handling inherently dangerous compounds will only do so during regular working hours. 

The lack of proper air conditioning and air handling in the Steidle laboratories creates a catalyst for noncompliance in the wearing of PPE, particularly in the height of summer but also in the interim from early spring until May 15 when the university permits air conditioning to be turned on. Nonetheless, a zero tolerance policy will be implemented (within the Research group) toward those individuals who neglect to wear PPE.