Tuesday, March 03, 2009


The Marines have said that the jet crash that killed four members of one family, including a toddler and a newborn, would not have happened if everyone had followed the correct emergency procedures.

I am impressed at their honesty, but a little flabbergasted at the statement. If there is one thing I tend to expect the military to be good at, it is following procedures.

And I'm thinking again about risk, and risk mitigation. At work, we've been trying to agree upon new safety procedures for a new project that we're starting, which uses chemicals that are potent cytotoxins (literally, cell killers) but that do not fall under one of the regulatory regimes that make figuring out safety procedures much easier. We'll be working with small amounts, and I'm fairly comfortable with how the procedures are turning out. But I feel a little more justified in my arguments that you have to plan for the failure of procedures.


  1. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Did you see this article?

    Also preventable...

  2. Yes, @My Buddy Mimi- I have read about that case. I agree, also preventable. And very tragic.

    In my experience, it is far to easy for even experienced scientists to get blase about safety. Which is why you need procedures, and you need to train on and enforce those procedures.

    In the jet crash case, the question of whether or not to land at Coronado should never have come up- it should have been obvious based on the procedures that everyone had drilled on.

    In the lab accident case, wearing a lab coat when working in a chemistry lab should be automatic. And back when I worked in a chemistry lab (as an undergrad, many, many years ago), I was taught to wear cotton to work.


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