On the morning of Thursday, November 1, an electrical fire erupted while experts were performing routine compliance maintenance at Florida State University's national High Magnetic Field Laboratory in the school's Innovation Park, Florida State University News reports.
According to the media outlet, by 9:15 a.m., all personnel inside the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance division of the facility had been evacuated, and the remainder of the building was closed for the rest of the day. Although a preliminary investigation has begun, the exact cause of the fire has still not be concluded.
The fire was responsible for injuring one employee, an engineering technician who has been working at the lab for 10 years. The worker was taken to Shands Hospital Burn Center in Gainesville by a LifeNet helicopter. Shortly after the fire, MagLab director Greg Boebinger released a statement saying that the employee's health would remain the focus of the incident for the time being.
"Our focus is on our friend and colleague who was injured this morning, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," said Boebinger. "We want to thank the first-responders for their quick response."
The accident points to a larger problem that is occurring all over the country, in which university labs are experiencing accidents and fires. This has prompted FSU to look into the safety of it's own labs.
"We're reviewing the situation and I don't know anything further," Boebinger added. "We want to have an overabundance of caution but the expectation is it will be open tomorrow. That's what we've told our employees."
Now, the Tallahassee Fire Department is working with the Environmental Health and Safety department to assess indoor air quality of the building.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also stepped in to help universities and laboratories in general improve their safety. National statistics show that more than 500,000 workers are employed in laboratories around the country, and all are exposed to several hazards. These include chemical, biological, physical and radioactive hazards, in addition to the threat of fires and explosions.
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