A costly mistake: Cleaner destroys decades of research

A costly mistake: Cleaner destroys decades of research

Not ideal at all. Always remember that your actions have consequences. 

Woman in white laboratory coat
Woman in white laboratory coat/Pexels/@Polina Tankilevitch

A cleaner at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York back in 2020 switched off a lab fridge because it was making an annoying sound. 

May seem like an innocent thing to do, but it actually caused the research lab major losses in both money and decades of ground-breaking research. 

A lawyer for the institute wrote: "Research on photosynthesis, headed by Prof KV Lakshmi, had the potential to be "ground-breaking" in furthering solar panel development." (BBC)

"A few days before the freezer was turned off, an alarm went off to alert a 3C temperature rise." (BBC)

But the professor noted that this would not affect the lab cultures. Since this was in the thick of the pandemic, repairs could not be done for some time. 

There was a notice on the freezer though that read: "This freezer is beeping as it is under repair. Please do not move or unplug it. No cleaning required in this area. You can press the alarm/test mute button for 5-10 seconds if you would like to mute the sound." (BBC)

The cleaning company is being held responsible for the incident and being charged for improper training. 

The damages are said to be around $1.1-million, which is around R20-million.

Can you even imagine how the cleaner must be feeling? We guess that is why reading notices are so important...

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