From: Eugene Ngai <eugene_ngai**At_Symbol_Here**COMCAST.NET>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Seizures and lab safety
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2018 19:40:11 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: 006801d438df$25bf3f20$713dbd60$**At_Symbol_Here**

Unfortunately I had an engineer that worked for me at one of the chemical plants that had a seizure. As emergency responders, we were not aware of their condition and did the worst thing by trying to tilt head back and open mouth. Chipped a tooth doing so. This is a tough situation, this person had worked for me for 3 years before this happened. Fortunately it was in the office and not in the plant. Left the company a year later and went on to have a successful career. Don't know if there were additional seizures or if it was under control with medication. I assume it was.


Even as an Emergency Responder I have to rely on the employee to be truthful on their questionnaire to the doctor. I do not have access to this information. I would hate to think a seizure happened during a level A response. I had 2 trainees in the last 5 years that discovered they were claustrophobic while they were in level A suits during a practice session. In one we had to cut the suit because they were thrashing around and in a panic, fortunately as the trainer I was in the hot zone to observe. Took two to hold them down while I cut the practice suit open. What if it was a seizure?


Eugene Ngai

Chemically Speaking LLC


From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU> On Behalf Of Janice Umbaugh
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2018 1:26 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Seizures and lab safety




It's unfortunate that your employee didn't tell you about the potential for seizures beforehand because there are some things that are commonly done that should never be done to a person having a seizure with loss of consciousness, like not sticking anything in their mouth or putting a pillow under their head. You could address those items as part of general first aid training. You should also realize that your employee may be embarrassed about having had a seizure in public, so don't be too hard on them.


The best thing for your employee to do is to develop a seizure action plan with HR and safety personnel. Your employee will be the best source of information on what type of seizures they have, what triggers the seizures, whether or not they can tell if a seizure is coming on or is likely, the likely duration of a seizure and its aftereffects, and what you need to do for them (which is likely only staying out of the way and calling an ambulance). Often medicines used to treat seizures have side effects like drowsiness or emotional issues, so it's important to discuss those as well.


Even if your employee isn't willing to open up about the seizure condition, make sure you educate yourself. The Epilepsy Foundation has lots of good information on their website, and you likely have an epilepsy support group in your area.





From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU] On Behalf Of B Acs
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2018 11:44 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Seizures and lab safety


Hi. I apologize for the rather anonymous posting. There is some sensitive HR stuff, that while I tried to keep identifying data out, if my real email address were out there, a quick search would ID the company and since we are so small, other employees could figure out who I am talking about. 





I found a thread in the archive about a student with epilepsy in the lab. The conclusion, as far as I could tell, was that if it was controlled with meds, it was OK with some policies - no working alone, etc. However, I could not find anything about if a seizure actually happened and people's experiences.


Over the weekend, a new employee (1 week) had a seizure, fell, hit head, and required stitches. We were not told by employee about the potential for this (and from what I have seen on the internet regarding ADA and discrimination, I can understand why the employee did not disclose). I will be contacting employee today to get employee's statement of what happened. I think the employer has the right to know how often this may happen and what to do in the employee's specific case.


I read about shifting duties away from the lab as being discriminatory, but there was also something about if driving is required for the job that 3 months without a seizure was a reasonable requirement. I would think public safety and the potential for causing an accident that could harm others is certainly an issue if a company knowingly required an employee to drive with this potential. How does lab safety of the employee and coworkers factor into this?


Technician role requires use of chemicals, including nitric acid, peroxide, flammables, and glassware. Microbiology side runs the risk of contaminating employee or samples.  Autoclaves, other heated surfaces. Not to be heartless and deviate from employee safety, but samples are valuable and limited (as in, we may not have enough to repeat experiment if compromised). Loss of samples could mean loss of client.


Has anyone dealt with this? Internet says that employers unintentionally discriminate in the name of safety. The first link I found on a search is from RSC.


Today, I have to start workers comp paperwork. I have to look at it from that perspective, too. Will that drive up our rate? Small company - <20 employees covering 2 shifts, 7 days a week. So, hard to shift responsibilities and keep coverage for safety and duties.


I cannot tell other employees these details without employee consent. I can't pressure the employee to give consent, but how do I explain the issue or provide training on what to do if a seizure happens again? If I just suddenly give a module on seizures and blood-borne pathogens, most people would be able to put 2 and 2 together. But I have to protect my other employees too.


Employee has already stated a fear of losing job over this and had even requested not contacting parents, even though they were on the emergency contact list. 


What safety precautions are people implementing to protect the employee, people around them, and the lab? 

While I understand that no meds are 100% effective, what policies are in place if an employee does have a seizure in regards to future work duties?


Thank you!






Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

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