University of Rochester

Engineer Injured at Laboratory for Laser Energetics

August 7, 2008

Sam Roberts, 32, a Senior Lab Engineer at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics was seriously injured in an accident at the laboratory yesterday, Aug. 6.

"My thoughts and the thoughts of everyone at the University are with Sam, his family, friends and coworkers," said University President Joel Seligman. "We are all earnestly hoping for his recovery."

Laboratory Director Bob McCrory, who met with the Laboratory staff this morning, said, "Sam is a valuable and well-liked member of our team at the Laboratory with over nine years of service, and our hopes and prayers are with him." He added, "Safety is the most important priority of the laboratory, and we will continue to work closely with federal and University officials." He also announced that counselors are available at the laboratory for any staff who would like to avail themselves of these services.

At approximately 6:30 p.m. yesterday, Aug. 6, Roberts was performing a routine operation when coworkers heard a loud sound and found him under a heavy piece of equipment. His coworkers provided CPR to the victim until the West Brighton Fire Department arrived and transported him to Strong Memorial Hospital.

OSHA was notified immediately. Both the University and OSHA are investigating the accident.

This is the most serious injury to an employee in the 38-year history of the laboratory. As a precaution, laboratory director McCrory has suspended operations in the area of the laboratory where the accident occurred until the investigations are complete.

The work being performed at the time of the accident was performed several times daily. The laser was not operating at the time of the accident, and no hazardous materials of any kind were involved in the work. The equipment has been operating safely for approximately two years. The accident took place in an area of the lab that is accessible only to experienced, trained professional staff.