Reminders Regarding COVID-19 (Vaccinated or Not)
UW personnel must continue to abide by the UW's COVID-19 Prevention Plan as well as their lab-specific COVID-19 prevention plans even after getting vaccinated. This means that social distancing, masking, and daily attestation requirements remain in effect.
One change to guidance, however, is that fully vaccinated individuals (two weeks after their last dose) do not need to quarantine if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Vaccinated, exposed individuals should however continue to watch for symptoms and get tested should any arise.
As a reminder, positive test results should be reported to the UW EH&S COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team or 206.616.3344. UW Medical Center employees should report to their employee health services.
Small Volumes, Big Consequences:
Safe Handling of Hazardous Chemicals
In July of 2020, a researcher at UW sustained second and third degree burns as the result of a concentrated formic acid spill.
A root cause analysis of the incident found that an over-cluttered chemical fume hood was at least partly to blame. Another factor involved poor adherence to procedures; rather than clearing out the fume hood, the researcher decided to perform their work with the (~99%) formic acid on the airfoil (lip) of the fume hood. During the procedure, the formic acid bottle, containing only around 5mL of liquid, fell from the fume hood and splashed onto the researcher's leg.
Despite wearing a lab coat, long pants, and flushing the affected area for 15 minutes promptly after the spill, the researcher sustained second and third degree burns and required attention at the emergency department and consultation with the burn clinic.
This incident highlights the importance of good housekeeping and proper observation of procedures. Make sure that you have written standard operating procedures for potentially hazardous procedures and that they are followed every time. This incident could have been prevented.