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Thursday, November 18, 1999 Published at 16:13 GMT

UK: Scotland

HSE issues warning over chemical

Emergency services dealt with the nitrogen leak

A medical laboratory technician may have died because after being deprived of oxygen while filling flasks with nitrogen.

James Graham died at the Medical Research Council's human genetics' facility on the Western General Hospital site in Edinburgh last month, prompting an immediate investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

In a circular issued to laboratory operators, the HSE has detailed precautions to be taken by anyone handling the chemical.

They range from reducing the risk of accidental spillage to providing adequate instruction, training and supervision.

Oxygen deprivation

Although its final report into Mr Graham's death has still to be concluded, the HSE's statement says he died "after apparently suffering oxygen deprivation while filling flasks with liquid nitrogen".

The final report will be sent to the local procurator fiscal and a formal fatal accident inquiry will take place at a later date.

Four other people were injured when the chemical leak occurred at the hospital.

World leader

About 40 people were evacuated from the four-storey block, but emergency services said the leak had been confined to a storage room and there had been no danger to the rest of the hospital.

The centre is a world leader in research into human genetics and the substance involved was used to store human tissue at a sub-zero temperature.

The Human Genetics Unit, established in 1967, is one of the MRC's largest research establishments, supporting about 220 scientists and staff.

The unit is at the forefront of research into human genetics. Its role is to advance the understanding of genetic factors implicated in human disease. .

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25 Oct 99 | Scotland
Inquiry after man dies in chemical leak

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