Monday, May 2, 2016

Department of Move Along, Nothing to See Here

The preliminary conclusion of the UC Center for Laboratory Safety is that the University of Hawaii - Mānoa needs a major overhaul of its safety systems, and it is promptly publishing the results of its self-critique and lessons learned.

Just keeeeeeeeeeeeeeding!!! Via Jyllian Kemsley, Hawaii-Manoa's press release:
In its preliminary investigation, the UC Center for Laboratory Safety, considered a national leader in laboratory safety, determined that the explosion was an isolated incident and not the result of a systemic problem. The UC Laboratory Safety Team was on the Mānoa campus the week of March 28.
Also, in the comments over the weekend, Dr. Kemsley notes:
U Hawaii Manoa Environmental Health & Safety Director Roy Takekawa said at a March 17 press conference that the lab had been inspected in January and "passed all requirements." 
 Nope, sounds like an isolated incident to me. 

6 comments:

  1. "national leader in laboratory safety" -- Says who?

    UH Manoa's EHS Director sounds like he is part of the problem. If their "checked all of the boxes" approach is the be-all end-all of their safety program, it is a miracle that they haven't killed more students and staff. Playing with hydrogen in a facility without explosion-proof and listed equipment is just plain dumb.

    Guess they missed something on their checklist.

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  2. Even if the lab "passed all requirements", it is possible that EH&S was not aware that the gauge was not appropriate. Some things aren't issues or even known about until something happens.

    In my opinion, the important bit of information in this incident is that, according to the Fire Department's report, there had been near-misses that had been ignored by the lab. Previous explosions or incidents, no matter how insignificant they seemed, should have signaled a full-stop of the experiment until the cause could be remedied.

    The researcher getting shocked by the tank should have been investigated, static shocks and hydrogen is not a good combination. Smaller explosions, reported by witnesses in the report, should have also been looked into immediately. What concerns me the most about the whole incident is that clear near-misses were outright ignored.

    Near-misses are not to be ignored or written off.

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  3. The fact that a guy who didn't understand that a hydrogen-oxygen mix in a pressurized tank can go kaboom made it past the hiring committee is evidence of a systemic problem at Manoa.

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  4. Getting a shock from a hydrogen tank is not a near miss. It is an incident, I don't understand how could anyone consider it a near miss! And anybody who knew about this shares responsibility for what happened later.

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  5. One of those times I really wished I was surprised. All of this is just a smokescreen to help the university protect itself. God forbid they should actually hold their employees accountable for things like safety, or ethical standards, or effectiveness in the classroom. No, as long as the grants roll in, we'll just keep turning a blind eye - and we'll have your back when the feces hits the rotating blade.

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