By Rebecca Burton
Reports of strong odours emanating from the laser cutter room in the architecture building have fueled an investigation into the ventilation system of the area. But as students continue to use the equipment, the joint occupational health and safety committee (JOHSC) claims it has been shut down.
“It was brought to the attention of the JOHSC that there was an odour. The environmental safety department followed up and the source of the odour was identified as the laser cutter. It has since been shut down and an investigation is now underway,” said president Sheldon Levy.
Initial reports from the departmental council meeting on Nov. 24, 2011 indicated the air quality of the laser cutter room was brought into question.
The minutes say that no alterations would be possible until the summer of 2012 and that staff are currently seeking short-term alterations. One proposed option was additional ventilation through the roof.
Lab technician Frank Bowen said the laser cutter is still in use and has been temporarily fixed until a better filter can be installed.
“People were sensitive to the odour,” he said, in reference to the JOHSC investigating the equipment. Bowen said the problems had been occurring for the past two months.
Changes to what materials students are allowed to cut has been implemented and proper safety regulations, including face masks, continue as normal.
While Bowen claimed the problems were “easily fixed” and they were simply waiting on an engineering report that is “probably sitting in campus planning,” director of the department of environmental health and safety and security, Julia Lewis, indicated the laser cutter has been “shut down due to concerns.”
“We can confirm the [ventilation extractor for the machine] was in good shape even though they did shut it down to address general ventilation in the the room,” said Lewis.
Additional minutes from the Nov. 24 meeting reported staff, including Bowen, were constantly cleaning filters and limiting the amount of plastic being used.
It was also reported that better quality plastic was now being ordered.
Bowen did verify the architecture school will be replacing the entire HVAC system in the building this coming summer because of the aging system in place.
“We can’t do that while students are around,” he said. “It’s going to cost a lot of money,”