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Opening a safety can of worms

In the 1964 classic movie Mothra versus Godzilla (released in the U.S. as Godzilla vs. the Thing), a giant egg is washed ashore in Japan after a hurricane. Godzilla finds the egg and tries to break it, but when it hatches, twin giant worms are released that spell disaster for the title monster. Godzilla ends up covered in webbing and falling helplessly into the sea. He never expected that kind of trouble from opening a simple egg.

Some lab safety stories are like that, too. An incident occurs due to an unsafe practice, and during the subsequent investigation, the safety officer discovers the practice is actually common. Someone’s specific safety question reveals a huge systemwide issue that could become a major project. Opening these cans (or eggs) of worms can happen, but the lab safety professional needs to be prepared for them.

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