Kentucky State Office of Compliance Shuts Down Kentucky State University Research Facility

Thomas Joad Published:

Kentucky State Health Department Closes Atwood Facility After Finding Serious Health and Safety Code Violations

In December 2013, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Division of Compliance, which is responsible for the enforcement of Kentucky's Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards, conducted an unannounced inspection at Kentucky State University’s (KSU) Atwood Research Facility. The inspection was prompted by a call I made to federal OSHA regarding potentially life-threatening healthy and safety issues. OSHA referred the complaint to Kentucky OSH who took over the investigation.

I did a room-by-room, lab-by-lab, office-by-office walkthrough of the building one morning last October. I created a detailed “roadmap” showing every potentially life threatening safety issue on all three floors of the building. I then provided my map to the State Health Inspectors. There was no real surprise here. Everybody from the President down to the Safety Director have known about the hazards in this building for years. In fact, the new College of Agriculture Dean, Tefiri Tsegaye, stated in an email that he accepted the position with the understanding that he was going to repair the Atwood research facility. That was three years ago. So I took action. I made the call. And now Tsegaye has been trying to find me for months.

Using my roadmap, OSH inspectors walked through the entire building, noting the various health and safety violations. My roadmap included details about ceiling leaks that were adjacent to electrical fixtures, extensive mold and mildew on all three floors, open electrical connections, fire alarms dangling from electrical wires, close proximity to explosives such as picric acid and radioactive chemicals, faulty fume hoods, defective emergency eye and body showers, and much more. What wasn’t discussed were the large numbers of cockroaches on all three floors, the fluctuating low and high interior temperatures (i.e., 90° F in the summer, and below 68° F in the winter), and the dangerous working conditions resulting from mismanagement of space.

On Friday, June 13, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Division of Compliance, mailed the code violations (nine of which were serious) to Kentucky State University. By Wednesday, June 18, 2014, notices were posted at the Chappell building, Aquaculture, and the Office of Extension buildings.

While the Health Department only fined the University $22,000, the cost to repair the building is in the millions. And, to quote others who spent years in that building, “Someone is watching out for us.” Now it’s time for you, the media, to do your part. Kentucky State University has been burying their bodies under the decaying building for decades. It’s time to start digging up the bodies and holding someone accountable. Raymond Burse, PhD, JD starts as the new Interim President on July 1, 2014. I hear that he is a no-nonsense player. Let’s hope that he cleans house and puts people in place who not only care about the health of the University, but the health of their human capital.

The full report detailing the results of the walkthrough are available from Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Division of Compliance. The following is a list of the citations that were posted on the buildings.

Kentucky Regulations

Serious

·         803 KAR 2:310 Section 2, Paragraph (1)

Section 2. If the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive material, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use. The facilities shall comply with the provisions of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z-358.1-1990, “Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment”, which is incorporated by reference, with the following exceptions:

Paragraph (1) In a remote area if a person is visibly or audibly separated from coworkers, an audible or visible alarm shall activate to alert appropriate personnel when the unit is in use, or in the alternative, a two (2) way communication device shall be used. The alarm shall continue until the unit is no longer in use.

Federal Regulations

The following can be found under Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, § 1904 and § 1910.

·         1910.101(b)

Compressed gases. The in-plant handling, storage, and utilization of all compressed gases in cylinders, portable tanks, rail tankcars, or motor vehicle cargo tanks shall be in accordance with Compressed Gas Association Pamphlet P-1-1965, which is incorporated by reference as specified in Sec. 1910.6.

·         1910.157(e)(3)*

The employer shall assure that portable fire extinguishers are subjected to an annual maintenance check. Stored pressure extinguishers do not require an internal examination. The employer shall record the annual maintenance date and retain this record for one year after the last entry or the life of the shell, whichever is less. The record shall be available to the Assistant Secretary upon request.

·         1910.157(e)(4)*

The employer shall assure that stored pressure dry chemical extinguishers that require a 12-year hydrostatic test are emptied and subjected to applicable maintenance procedures every 6 years. Dry chemical extinguishers having non-refillable disposable containers are exempt from this requirement. When recharging or hydrostatic testing is performed, the 6-year requirement begins from that date.

·         1910.1450(e)(1) Occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories.

1910.1450(e)(1) Where hazardous chemicals as defined by this standard are used in the workplace, the employer shall develop and carry out the provisions of a written Chemical Hygiene Plan which is:

1910.1450(e)(1)(i) Capable of protecting employees from health hazards associated with hazardous chemicals in that laboratory and

1910.1450(e)(1)(ii) Capable of keeping exposures below the limits specified in paragraph (c) of this section.

Other than serious

1904.29(a) Basic requirement. You must use OSHA 300, 300-A, and 301 forms, or equivalent forms, for recordable injuries and illnesses. The OSHA 300 form is called the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, the 300-A is the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, and the OSHA 301 form is called the Injury and Illness Incident Report.

1910.141(a)(3)(i) All places of employment shall be kept clean to the extent that the nature of the work allows.

1910.303(g)(1) Space about electric equipment. Sufficient access and working space shall be provided and maintained about all electric equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment.

1910.305(g)(1)(iv)(A) As a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure;

1910.1001(j)(2)(i) Asbestos

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  • BrunoUno  July 3, 2014 7:10PM

    Nobody gets accused of racism on here unless the stuff "that dribbles our of" their mouths (ewe...) actually has "racism at its core".  38106 has a looooong history of dribbling out stuff that is racist at its core that is easy to read through their thinly disguised code words when addressing anything KSU related.

    I guess I'm busted. The great and powerful Bruno has singled me out as a racist. Could somebody please tell my Black foster children that I'm a racist, and put a sign on my front door so my Black friends know not to come back to my house? And, maybe I can get donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center returned?

    Hey Bruno, this is about KSU, and while you've been called out on this thread and others to specifically defend the actions of KSU adminstrators you seem to fall back on name calling. Any comments about the fine and safety violations at Atwood Hall?

  • BU - I have no time to 'deconstruct' your hyped up outrage at NOTHING.

    I am in awe at your ability to peer into the core of someone based only on typed words and determine their motives.  Why aren't you a judge in our court system?   Oh wait... they need PROOF there... never mind. 

     

    I see you have ZERO comment on the huge fines that were levied against the inept administration by OSHA.  It was particularly interesting to me that the only real concern issued by KSU was "The cost of moving earlier than planned may require resources to be taken away from research projects or personnel," and NOT on the safety issues for students or faculty.  Just a SAD because they now don't get to spend the money where they want to...

     

    I know some of the many salaried administration who are inept, illiterate and obviously a detriment to a serious institution of learning.   Are you telling me that my personal experience with these individuals and my observation of the lack of elementary levels of education makes me racist?  Do you think that because I personally believe that KSU should dissolve and be absorbed by our larger universities that I am racist? 

     

    I have long held the belief that this 'historical' clamor that comes with a discussion of KSU is what is 'racist' and if you fight to make yourself or a group of people somehow 'different' and deserving of your own special place to seek an education then you are promoting your own brand of racism. 

     

  • Nobody gets accused of racism on here unless the stuff "that dribbles our of" their mouths (ewe...) actually has "racism at its core".  38106 has a looooong history of dribbling out stuff that is racist at its core that is easy to read through their thinly disguised code words when addressing anything KSU related. This isn't the only time that 38106 has criticised KSU or called for it to be dismantled...that is all that they do!  38106's drubbings of KSU can't be racially neutral 100% of the time and 100% of the stories and comments can't possibly be racially neutral.

    My comment to them was addressing these historical references.  Whether john_doe wants to admit it or not, or even sees it when it is staring them in the face is irrelevant.  It is my duty to call this stuff out and ridicule the offender when ever or wherever is rears its ugli head.  Mine is hardly "fake outrage"...I am serious!  If you don't think my points are credible then logically deconstruct them specifically.  Please! 

  • But your biggest problem with KSU is that it's administrators are N-words, right?

    Would that be "nuance users"?  Dipstick...

     

  • It's really aggravating and sometimes amusing when the Grand Old Tea Party trots out the line about how they are tired of being called 'racist' for criticizing the President...  the only problem with that fake outrage is that quite a bit of the rhetoric that dribbles out of a republican's mouth will actually have racism at it's core...

    And on here, anytime you criticize or even 'question' anything 'KSU' it is a sure bet that Bruno will call you a racist...

    Funny thing is there isn't any racism in the criticism or questions...  the only racism is when Bruno claims to know what you really mean, because he is able to read your mind and see the demon within...  

    Once.... twice....  but in every post?   Sorry, that makes your claims a bit exaggerated Bruno.  You can't be right 100% of the time and 100% of the stories and comments can't possibly be racially motivated.  It makes it hard to ever expect any credibility from you Bruno when all you can do is lob 'RACIST' at every person.

     

  • Another example of Sias' management skills on display.

  • BrunoUno June 30, 2014 5:34PM

    user_38106, June 28, 2014 11:27AM

    "...you are going to have a lot of defending to do now that someone on the inside acknowledges problems (galore?) at KSU." 

    But your biggest problem with KSU is that it's administrators are N-words, right?

    No, my biggest problem with KSU is that it is an extremely inefficent use of the tax dollars of the Commonwealth. The interim president acknowleges that they now need to "unravel" (his wording) some financial issues and ensure that policies and procedures are being followed. The rest of Frankfort has known for a while that those were issues.

    The interim president must be a racist?!?!

     

  • user_38106, June 28, 2014 11:27AM

    "...you are going to have a lot of defending to do now that someone on the inside acknowledges problems (galore?) at KSU." 

    But your biggest problem with KSU is that it's administrators are N-words, right?  

  • LOL @ 'nuance' n4s! :o)

  • Must be some "nuance" in here somewhere...

  • Bruno, it looks like interim President Burse thinks there are some financial issues that need to be "unraveled" and that leadership needs to check to see that some policies and procedures are being followed. And we've all been under the impression that Dr. Sias was running a fine-tuned machine on the hill...NOT!

    You might need to get the Copy/Paste machine oiled up...you are going to have a lot of defending to do now that someone on the inside acknowledges problems (galore?) at KSU.

  • Wow, a facility in serious need of repair. But, instead of repairing or upgrading this facility, the fine folks in charge of running this operation instead opted to buy a houseboat (river lab), an old library building, build a fancy entrance, and who knows what else? Sounds to me like the administration was very poor at prioritising between wants and needs. Hopefully, the new adminstration can do better at spending the money where it is needed.  I sure I'll get the R bomb dropped on me for this...Let me know if you need some batteries for that light Steve...

  • What I mean, is that I believe we are going to shine more light on the matter. What do YOU mean, Bruno?

  • How, by saying that you "believe we are"?  This is fine smoked read meat for the Editor...something he truly understands!

  • I believe we are.

  • I hope the State-Journal shines more light on this matter.

  • Sounds pretty serious...