UH hit with safety citation in wake of lab explosion

Published: Sep. 22, 2016 at 5:23 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 22, 2016 at 6:59 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - University of Hawaii officials will sit down with the state's occupational safety office at the end of the month to address a series of violations found as part of an investigation into a March lab explosion in which a researcher lost her arm.

UH-Manoa was issued a citation this week with 15 violations, each of which carries a maximum penalty of $7,700.

The state Occupational Safety and Health Office violations include a failure to reduce occupational hazards as required, a lack of training for employees, and a blocked exit route. The state also said that UH-Manoa didn't ensure lab employees had proper safety gear, didn't have adequate safety plans on file and failed to follow their own established safety procedures.

The lab explosion happened March 16, as researcher Thea Ekins-Coward was conducting an experiment that mixed compressed hydrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen detonated inside a portable air tank.

An investigation found the explosion was likely caused by an electrostatic charge and was linked to equipment modifications.

In the wake of the blast, UH-Manoa has sought to address lab safety procedures campus-wide.

UH officials will meet with state occupational safety officials on Sept. 30 to discuss the citation and discuss next steps. It's likely the university's penalties will be reduced if it can demonstrate it's addressed the safety violations.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.