All the Dominoes Fall

Short-term thinking is a long-term challenge

Safety tools capturing short-term effects

The Swiss cheese model

The Domino effect

The Domino Fallacy: Looking beyond the first to see the others that fall behind

The Domino Fallacy: the tendency to forget or fail to account for the long-term moral costs of an accident whose short-term impact is clearly documented.

A broader look at chemical manufacturing disasters

Lab-level safety concerns

  • In 2016, Thea Ekins Coward, a visiting student at Hawaii University lost an arm as a result of a compressed gas cylinder explosion. She had not been appropriately trained for working with such units.[2] Whilst the likely cause was thought to be static electrical ignition, an independent report cited a deep lack of safety culture as a core issue at the institution.
  • In China, a hydrogen leak led to an explosion which seriously injured and subsequently killed researcher Meng Xiangjian at Tsinghua University. He was working alone. In this case, the struggle to balance research budgets with funding for adequately up-to-date and safe equipment was highlighted.[4]
  • Perhaps one of the best-known cases of chemistry lab safety failure occurred in 2008, when Sheri Sanji died in a lab fire in UCLA, US. Sanji, just 23 years old, used a highly pyrophoric chemical in an unsafe manner and with insufficient protective equipment. She died in hospital from her burn injuries. Her lab supervisor was never charged, but the ten-year legal saga cost approximately US$9m in fees.[2]

A call to arms

Further reading



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Dr Marc Reid

Dr Marc Reid

Academic Scientist | Author | Entrepreneur