Massachusetts student dies in freak lab accident at Yale

Last week, a 20-year-old Yale student from Scituate, Massachusetts, was tragically killed when her hair was pulled into a piece of machine-shop equipment in the chemistry lab she was working on. Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, has said that it will step up its safety training in the wake of the student’s death.

Reportedly, the young woman had taken a safety course that is required before using the machine shop, which instructed students to tie back long hair. The accident occurred Tuesday night of last week and resulted in an outpouring of grief for the loss of the college senior who was majoring in physics and astronomy.

Now the accident is being investigated by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration to see if all required safety standards were being followed by the Yale laboratory. Yale said that it will also be reviewing its own safety policies and procedures for its labs, as well as other campus facilities where undergraduate students may use power equipment.

Anytime an accident like this occurs it is possible that a personal injury lawsuit for wrongful death will result. In this case, the young woman allegedly failed to tie back her long hair as she was instructed to do in a safety course. However, this does not mean that the university is completely off the hook. There will likely be investigations conducted to determine if the university acted negligently in any way.

Wrongful death lawsuits are typically brought by the family of a person who was killed in an accident due to in part to the negligent actions of another person or entity. The family can then seek damages from the negligent party for loss of life as well as other claims.

While the award of damages will not heal the wound caused by the loss of a loved one, it can help cover expenses that often arise, and also can encourage people and entities to be prudent so that future accidents are avoided.

Source: Boston Globe, “Yale student killed in accident took safety course,” 4/14/2011.