When you send your child to school and his or her science class is planning to conduct an experiment, should you be worried about a serious accident and devastating burn injury risks? Similarly, if you are a teacher or instructor in a K-12 school setting, how worried should you be about workplace injuries that occur in science classrooms? According to a recent report from ABC News, the phenomenon known as “flame jetting” is resulting in severe accidents and injuries across middle school and high school science classrooms. Who is responsible for these burn injuries?
How are Science Classroom Accidents Happening?
Nearly any science classroom in which students are working on experiments that involve flammable liquids can turn into the site of an accident. According to the report, experiments gone awry “can turn a flammable liquid inside a container into a flamethrower, creating a wall of fire that shoots forward with an intense force, torching anything in its path.” How do these accidents happen? Jonathan Butta, who conducts research for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, explained that these accidents can occur “when alcohols, especially methanol, are used in demonstrations involving an open flame.”
These accidents have happened across high school classrooms, and students have suffered debilitating burn injuries. However, students continue to work with these materials in classroom experiments, putting both teachers and students at risk.
Examples of Science Classroom Accidents
The report cites a number of recent accidents in science classrooms where people have suffered devastating burn injuries. For example, a 2015 demonstration of the “Rainbow Experiment” in a high school science course “charred” the classroom and left “five students injured, including two who had to be airlifted to the hospital with serious burns.” Similarly, back in 2006, an Ohio student sustained severe burn injuries that “burned over 40% of her body during an experiment in her school’s chemistry lab.”
A 2018 study in the Journal of Chemical Education on these specific types of accidents and burn injuries indicates that students and teacher injuries have occurred in at least 20 U.S. states in recent years. However, the authors of that study suggested that the number of actual burn injuries could be much higher since schools are not required to report these accidents to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
Who is ultimately liable? Plaintiffs may be able to file lawsuits against the local government in public school accidents. For cases that occur at private schools, the school itself may be liable for injuries.
Contact Me Today for Help Filing a Claim
Most of us do not think about the ways in which serious injuries can harm instructors and students in classrooms, yet accidents can happen almost anywhere. When science classrooms are not properly equipped, or when someone performing an experiment has not been adequately trained to prevent serious accidents caused by flame jetting, teaching and students in that classroom can suffer devastating burn injuries. Sometimes these accidents and injuries result from poor materials and ineffective classroom spaces, and sometimes they result from a lack of training. Depending upon the particular facts of the case, the school itself, or the school district or county, may be liable for injuries. I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office today at 877.944.4373 so that I can evaluate your case and discuss options for filing a claim.