Campus Health and Safety
An All Unit Heads and Departmental Safety Officers Meeting
Nighttime Story
The New Health Center at HKUST
The Rise and Fall of the Lingering Foam
September 2012
Nighttime Story

Workplace inspection is one of the trademark duties of any safety professional.  No difference to any other campus safety units, HSEO frequently performs workplace inspection.  However, how many campus users do actually know HSEO occasionally inspects workplace in the middle of the night? Many users are sometimes surprised by the presence of the HSEO staff late at night in their laboratories.

Many laboratory users sometimes exhibit a  nocturnal rather than diurnal working pattern, working at night and taking rest during daytime.   It’s not too difficult to understand users’ preference to work at night as they generally believe they can achieve more with fewer disturbances during nighttime.  The late night working pattern does have its pros and cons.  While many users believe they are more productive at night, they may not be aware of the increased risks of working late in the laboratory.  HSEO staff has occasionally found users working alone at night.  Should anything happen to these solo operators, there will be an added risk due to the lack of support in case of emergency.  Users are strongly discouraged to perform solo operation at night.  They should make arrangement with their labmates to make sure they are not working alone if they need to work at night.  In any case, performing high risks experiments at night should be avoided. 

Bedding had also been found in the laboratory in the past during night inspection.  It makes people wonder whether some users do actually sleep in the laboratory.  Working late in the laboratory does not necessarily offer an excuse to sleep in the laboratory. The laboratory is no dormitory and users should pay due respect to the common sense that the laboratory should be maintained as a proper and safe workplace.  

Other than performing night inspection in the laboratory, HSEO staff also inspects the canteens at night regularly.  The general hygiene conditions of the canteens are clearly reflected by the patrons, the pests, which visit the canteens late at night. The cockroaches are no stranger to all caterers who try to maintain the canteens as a safe place to eat.  However, trays with leftovers, dirty dishes and utensils found in the kitchens and dining areas present the pests with the perfect opportunities for a feast.  Every effort should be made to deny them the chance.  Improper storage of raw and cooked foods, which increases the risks of cross contamination, has also been spotted.  These are the scenes that daytime inspection may not be able to capture but more importantly, they provide an accurate account on the general hygiene status of the canteens.   Nighttime inspection certainly has its place in keeping HKUST a healthy and safe campus.