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Re: Report on Hawaii lab explosion released

May 16, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 20

In the wake of a March 16 lab explosion at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) that cost postdoctoral researcher Thea Ekins-Coward an arm, the Honolulu Fire Department released an investigative report accompanied by photos from the incident. C&EN’s coverage of the report’s release both shocked and saddened readers.

This makes me indescribably sad. The fact that smaller near misses were reported but no corrective action was taken by the laboratory management makes this accident seem like it could have been prevented.

Brenna Arlyce Brown via C&EN’s website

I am a researcher in the same building as HNEI, although not on the same floor, and not in the same field. We felt the explosion rattle the floor and walls eight floors up. Dr. Ekins-Coward is truly lucky to be alive. The incident has prompted campuswide laboratory safety recertification efforts here.

Hannah Shelton via C&EN’s website

The use in this article of the photo of the bloody lab jacket draped over the chair is unnecessary and tasteless. Unless I’m missing something, there isn’t anything from that photo that can be taken as a learning tool to prevent future accidents.

Jeffrey Earnest via C&EN’s website

I would like to thank the poster [of this story] for including the picture of the bloodied lab coat. It does justice to the extent of this tragedy. Lab safety isn’t just a video game where you can just press the reset button and start over. There are real-life consequences.

Tom Bauer via C&EN’s website



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