Did Unsafe Machine Contribute to Yale Student's Death?

Science Careers Blog notes the latest twist in the April death of Michele Dufault, a physics and astronomy major at Yale University who was active in undergraduate research projects.

The Associated Press is reporting that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found that the lathe that killed Yale University student Michele Dufault in April lacked necessary safety features and that the university's safety policies were deficient.

AP used the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy of a letter sent by OSHA to Yale. The lathe, which dates from 1962, had neither an emergency shut-off switch nor a part known as a guard that shields the person working at the machine. Both are required and considered basic elements of using the device safely. Dufault's hair became fatally entangled in the lathe. In addition, OSHA noted numerous other safety deficiencies in the machine shop where she died, such as missing warning signs and inadequate record keeping.

Safety experts, furthermore, consider working alone, as Dufault apparently was doing when she died, to violate a fundamental safety rule. AP reports that Yale had not responded to a request for comment.

Posted in Education