Is Clark Hall Computer Lab Unsafe?

October 25, 2011

Updates:

October 25, 2011 4:30 p.m.
The batteries have been replaced and I received a call from the head electrician (whom I trust) who said they have been tested and the emergency lights now work. All that to get some batteries replaced. So,  this will close the matter with regards to this one lab.

However, the bigger question still remains about the status of all other emergency lighting systems on campus. I have requested, on behalf of the union, a status report for the entire campus. I suspect that what happened in Clark may be a symptom of a larger issue of deferred maintenance on, and neglect of, emergency systems at SJSU.

October 25, 2011 2:35 p.m.
Guess what, after my calling in CalOSHA and threatening to go to the Spartan Daily, they replaced the batteries (not bulbs.) They made it a priority.
October 25, 2011, 12:05 p.m.
According to a reliable source: “The bulbs for the emergency egress lights in Clark Hall 102 have been ordered and will be delivered at 2:00pm today. By 4:00pm today, the Electricians will have the lights installed and checked.”
Clark Hall 102 during power outage. Photo lit with a flash.

Clark Hall 102 during power outage. Photo lit with a flash.

On October 21, 2011 there was a power outage that affected Clark Hall. At the time the power went out, well over half the emergency lights on the first floor of Clark Hall failed to come on. Since daylight savings time will be ending soon and the lab is sometimes heavily used at night; if this had been an emergency much of the room would have been plunged into darkness.

Clark Hall Lights, report to FD&O.

Clark Hall Lights, report to FD&O.

So few lights worked, this could be a very hazardous situation in the event of an emergency. This was immediately reported.

One of the emergency lighting fixtures that failed to light in Clark Hall 102 during a power failure.

Fixtures that failed to light in Clark Hall 102 during a power failure.

As a union shop steward I suggested, effective immediately, not allowing this facility be occupied at times of darkness until this hazard is rectified. Staff likely would not be able to safely initiate evacuation safely in the facility in the event of an emergency under such conditions.

A non-functioning emergency lighting fixture.

A non-functioning emergency lighting fixture.

I asked management to please get this resolved as soon as possible. I included a copy of the related FD&O work order as well as shots of a couple of the lights that failed to illuminate and the peer mentor work area. The pictures were taken with a flash; of course.

Three days later nothing had happened and no action had been taken by the university. I called CalOSHA and filed a complaint and again followed up with university management. After I called CalOSHA the university started addressing the issue. I spoke with David L. Krack, the director of Environmental Health and Safety at SJSU’s Facilities Development and Operations (FD&O).

The head electrician came over and inspected the emergency lights four days after the hazard had been reported. In response to my conversation with the head electrician I sent Krack the following in an e-mail:

David:

After my conversation with the head electrician (after FD&O inspected the emergency egress lighting in Clark Hall 102) it seems possible batteries may not be immediately available for the failed backup lights in Clark Hall 102. I want to be clear on what we expect to happen if this situation is not remedied today.

We expect that Clark Hall 102 will close at 6:30 p.m. today, and before dark every day, until this situation is corrected. Safe operation of the facility is dependent on the presence of functioning emergency egress lighting after dark.

I am sure the safety of our students who use the lab as well as the employees who work in the facility is our shared first priority.

Last night the popular computer lab had another power failure. According to a staff member the area was plunged into darkness. That is simply not acceptable.

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