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Thursday
Apr142011

Yale University Limits Access to Power Equipment After Student Death

Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Yale University has moved to limit undergraduate students' access to power equipment after the death of senior Michele Dufault in a campus machine shop early Wednesday morning.

"This is a true tragedy," Yale President Richard C. Levin said in a statement.  "Last night, Michele's hair got caught in a lathe as she worked on a project in the student machine shop in the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory.  Her body was found by other students who had been working in the building.  They called the police, who responded immediately."

Dufault, of Scituate, Massachusetts, was an astronomy and physics major who was expected to graduate with a bachelor's of science degree this spring.  The state medical examiner's office said Dufault died from "accidental asphyxia by neck compression."

Levin said even though the university has programs to train students before they use power equipment, he initiated a "thorough review of the safety policies and practices of laboratories, machine shops, and other facilities with power equipment that is accessed and operated by undergraduates."

"Until the review is completed, Yale College will limit undergraduate access to facilities with power equipment to hours that will be specified by the end of the week; monitors will be present at these times in all such locations," the statement continued.

The Yale chemistry department's website says it has a state-of-the-art machine shop to allow students to construct or modify research instrumentation.  Access is strictly limited to those who have completed the shop course.  The laboratory was closed Wednesday, with all classes and labs in the building cancelled.

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