A lab safety expert who has studied thousands of cases of classroom experiments gone wrong believes the accident at a Mississauga high school was not a “freak accident” and could have been prevented with better safety equipment.

A routine experiment in a chemistry class at St. Marcellinus Secondary School exploded into flames two weeks ago when a Bunsen burner ignited a beaker full of methanol. The accident sent five students to hospital, one of whom is still in critical condition.

As students return to class after March break today, there are still few details around if safety processes were correctly being followed in the class at the time.

The Ministry of Labour, the school board and local fire department are all trying to piece together what went wrong.

But James Kaufman, the CEO of the U.S-based Laboratory Safety Institute, a non-profit organization promoting safety in science, says it’s clear which safety procedures were not in place.

“I have studied over 5,000 laboratory accidents, and I cannot recall one where anyone was hurt when there was a safety shield between the experiment and the children,” said Kaufman.