Y'all ever blow anything up at work?

My first customer-facing job was at a fast food place that served, among other things, ice cream. Sometimes air would get into the ice cream machine’s system, and when the air reached the spout, it would create a mini-explosion and spatter you with soft-serve. But one time, the machine itself exploded on me while I was serving up a cone! Not only was I sprayed with somewhat melted ice cream, but pieces of the spout went flying everywhere. That machine was out of commission for ages. Anyone else have any fun stories about s*** going sideways with work equipment?


I worked on the engineering team of a medical device company some years back, and most of our mishaps involved burning through circuit boards in the R&D lab or accidentally becoming one with the (high power RF) circuitry. My wife always knew something had happened when I came home smelling partially-cooked.

Speaking of cooking: one of our standard test procedures involved cooking store-bought chicken breasts with ultrasound – you could watch as the transducer’s focal point “carved” patterns of cooked tissue onto the surface.
Not that we could eat it… just characterizing the beam profile in flesh.


I work in a microbiology lab and we use the bunsen burners on a daily basis. Everyone there has set at least one thing on fire accidently but we have 3 really good stories.

  1. Student put 70% ethanol into a plastic tub and heated a glass tube we use to spread our bacteria on plates. Instead of waiting for it to cool he put it straight into the ethanol, it caught fire and melted the tub. Flamming ethanol went everywhere and we still have the scorch marks on that bench 6 years later.

  2. We had some 3rd year students in the lab and we left two of them with a PhD student while we had morning coffee. We came back and they had somehow managed to get a rack we use to hold tubes on the bench on fire. This is impressive as normally these things don’t move off the bench while you have the bunsen on. Lab stank of burnt plastic for a couple of days. We still discuss how, of all the equipment to melt, they managed this one (it would be like melting the cutting board while cooking, how on earth do you get that into the heat?)

  3. This one is the most recent. We have kitchen roll above our benches to help mop up spills or clean equipment. One student wasn’t looking at what they were doing and the roll hung slightly too far down. The whole roll went up in flames. The problem was that little bits of the layers started to flake off and fly down the lab. We were lucky we got that under control before the flammable stuff was affected. We got that fire on video and I am sure it is going appear at the next fire safety lecture given to the department.

Bonus story: about ten years ago apparently there was this crazy guy working in the lab. Very intelligent but not all there. Anyway he left behind this empty looking glass bottle which nobody thought to look at for about 5 years. When they did it turned out it contained some very explosive mixture which was very sensitive. The fire brigade was called out and the whole builidng was evacuated while they gently disposed of the chemical.


caracal, your job sounds stressful! I remember being amazed they allowed us to use bunsen burners as high school freshman. You’d think adults would be a little more careful. :stuck_out_tongue:

Your second story reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer managed to cause an actual nuclear meltdown in a test environment where no nuclear material was actually present :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


I remember vividly helping a colleauge transport a tall in-bed patient from one ward to another. Because he was tall, his bed had an extension, which is usually no problem.

On this sunny day, me and my colleague were heading to the elevator, the patient sometimes needed oxygen, so there was a portable bottle attached at the end of his bed. I was at the head of the bed and my colleague at the feet, so I didn’t really see and think of the oxygen.

When the elevator got there, it was already pretty full, people tried to shuffle and make room, but instead of going to the sides, they just went further in and…I don’t know… tried to suck in their tummies.

It looked like we fit, and in we went. As the doors started to close, we realised that the bottle wouldn’t fit. With a loud clonk the elevator door closed and had the oxygen bottle trapped in his doory jaw.

I remember thinking “Wait, these things are stored hanging from a rack, chained up and immobilised, because they can explode if they fall…”

Well… luckily this is the day where I didn’t blow anything up at work.