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Investigators: UH lab explosion caused by electrostatic charge

  • HONOLULU FIRE DEPARTMENT

    This Honolulu Fire Department photo, released in April, shows the damaged University of Hawaii laboratory at 1680 East-West Road following a March 16th explosion that severely injured a graduate student .

Investigators are saying a laboratory explosion at the University of Hawaii that resulted in a researcher losing her arm was likely caused by an electrostatic charge.

The University of California Center for Laboratory Safety, which handled the investigation, released its results today.

Investigators say it was challenging to determine the cause of the detonation because they weren’t able to inspect the accident scene until 13 days later. They also weren’t able to interview the researcher so they had to rely on a fire department report.

They say a digital pressure gauge was the origin of the electrical current that caused the detonation. They also say the researcher and some equipment in the lab were not properly grounded.

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    • There should NEVER have been any appreciable amount of explosive hydrogen and oxygen gas in the lab itself where people work. A basic explosive gas detector would have warned people of dangerous levels of these gases BEFORE they improperly used a digital gas gauge in their gas system setup.
      Was in the news the researcher who lost her arm also say sparks from the digital gas gauge happened before and she reported it to her supervisor who did nothing about it and told her don’t worry about it. Don’t be fooled by the sparseness of the SA story. There is going to be a major lawsuit filed by this woman against UH and they will end up paying millions of Hawaii taxpayer dollars to this woman. Don’t blame this woman because UH academics including the UH Cancer research center AND athletics is notorious for sloppy, incompetent leadership with zero accountability. PS: UH mentions that the lab passed some kind of inspection, but don’t see how given using a digital pressure gauge for an flammable gas system goes against all acceptable standard practices regarding safety.

        • I agree but ithe money should be taken from the wages and benefits of the UH lab manager and department head who were reckless and/or incompetent with the safety of university students.

  • It sounds like carelessness led to a tragedy. Small oversights usually don’t result in such bad injury, but I guess if you get unlucky . . .

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