Is Clark Hall Computer Lab Unsafe?

October 25, 2011


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:


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.


Just snap your way to a safer workplace

May 5, 2010

MQH work blocking exit

Click on image to enlarge.

This photo is out of focus and shows motion blur. But, it got a dangerous working condition fixed. Most of us have cell phones that have cameras in them. When you see a dangerous working condition use that phone for more than calling your boss. Take a picture of the problem.

Sometimes problems are temporarily cleaned up by the time a manager is able to come over and investigate a situation, only to return again later. In this case contractor employees, one of whom is pictured, were doing work that intermittently blocked emergency egress of an SJSU building. By taking a picture I was able to to send it from my phone in an e-mail to head of risk management at SJSU. The photo may not win any awards, but it sure got the job done. The problem was immediately resolved.

Spartan Daily ignores safety risks

November 24, 2009

Bicycle being ridden on bench

Despite being a bicyclist and a former bike commuter I am still not convinced bicycles belong on the San Jose State University Campus. Many of the people who ride bicycles on the sidewalks at SJSU do so in ways that risk serious injury to themselves and others.

The Spartan Daily has ran stories lately showing bicyclists riding dangerously without helmets on campus. This is so unsafe California has a helmet law regarding this issue. Why has the SJSU campus newspaper not looked at the other side of the issue of bikes on campus? Why has the SJSU campus newspaper not considered the dangers posed by bicycles on campus sidewalks? Is this the Spartan Daily’s idea of fair and balanced reporting?

It is good that SJSU President Jon Whitmore rides his bike to SJSU. But it is bad, I think, that he is riding his bike on the sidewalks of campus. The risks of riding bicycles on sidewalks are well documented. Sidewalks are generally unsuitable to be used as bikeways for the following reasons:

  • Sidewalks are generally not designed for cycling speeds. Cyclists must either reduce their speed or travel too fast for conditions.
  • There is generally insufficient width for shared bicycle and pedestrian travel, particularly due to obstacles such as utility poles, signs, and street furniture that narrows the effective width of the sidewalk.
  • Bicyclists face conflicts with motor vehicles at driveways and intersections. Motorists are generally not expecting a cyclist to cross their path from the sidewalk, and may not be looking for them.
  • Traffic rules, such as obligations to yield, are unclear when cyclists ride on sidewalks, creating confusion and risk between pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.

In my opinion we are one mis-step, one inattentive moment away from a serious injury; or worse. Bikes belong on the road, not on the sidewalks of our campus.

[Related Blog With More Posts]

I got my flu shot!

October 9, 2009

Getting my flu shot

Did you?

No progress toward safety

October 1, 2009

Cyclist at SJSU

The problem with HPV’s at SJSU
I am not against bicyclists, or bicycling, but I am seriously against the very dangerous use of them. I am an avid cyclist. I know that cycling, even done carefully, can result in serious injury or death. Life is full of risk. I am not against anything that involves a risk, but I am against unnecessary needless risk. Risk needs to be taken carefully, that is why we have “Risk Management” at SJSU.

I am against what I feel is a grossly dangerous unmanaged risk situation. That is why I have been complaining for years about how bicycles and other human powered vehicles (HPVs) are currently being used, and I think abused, on the sidewalks at SJSU.

I am a union steward and have filed grievances. I will continue to file grievances, complain, document and make public what I feel is a danger as long as I am able, or the problem gets fixed!

The ironic thing is I am not only advocating for the pedestrians at SJSU, I feel I am advocating for the safety of the cyclists, skateboarders and other users of HPVs at SJSU.

I have been in a serious bicycle accident. Everyday I suffer pain and discomfort from that accident. I know what that feels like and I know what knowing that the pain will NEVER go away feels like. Judging by the way some people who use HPVs navigate the campus, I doubt many of them do.

In my opinion, so far the university has done nothing to manage the risk on our campus.

[More on this topic]

[More photos here]

Bikes out of control at SJSU

June 15, 2009

Cyclist riding without hands at SJSU

Many of the people who ride bicycles on the sidewalks at SJSU do so in ways that risk serious injury to themselves and others. Cyclists riding with no hands are unable to take evasive action if a pedestrian, cart or disabled person steps into their path. Usually cyclists who ride like this way are not wearing helmets.

This bike position is especially prone to falling. These cyclists, as well as endangering others, risk head injuries that could kill them or leave them permanently disabled.

[My blog about human powered vehicles at SJSU]

[More photos of human powered vehicles on and around SJSU]

Mom sues school over cyclist death

October 16, 2008

A recent Mercury News article said, “accusing San Jose Unified School District of falling short on traffic safety, the mother of a sixth-grader struck and killed by a motorist has filed a claim against the district, saying it shares the blame in the death of the youngster who was riding her bike home on the last day of school.”

I have more on this and other information on my blog related to this issue:

San Jose State University has been warned time and time and time again. There are 40,000 people at SJSU who share our paths and sidewalks with skateboarders and cyclists. One wrong step, one slip, one mistake and a tragedy could happen here.