HARARE – A University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student, Emmanuel Tsuro, who was on attachment at Premier Service Medical Investments (PSMI) on Friday died from severe burns suffered after a fire erupted when he was conducting a procedure at the company’s laboratory in Harare, the Daily News on Sunday has been told.
PSMI yesterday confirmed the incident and when the Daily News on Sunday crew visited the premises where the accident happened, employees were still to come to terms with the sudden death of the young man who was said to be exceptional in his studies and work.
It has been established that Tsuro was working on a procedure he had done so many times before.
PSMI official Yeukai Mugabe confirmed the incident and said investigations were underway to determine the cause of the tragedy saying her organisation has been left shocked because they operate in an environment with high levels of safety procedures.
“The unfortunate accident happened on Monday, March 20, 2017 when the student was staining a tuberculosis sample at a sink in the laboratory.
“Emmanuel was doing a ZN staining for TB (normal standard tests within microbiology) when fire broke out. The test involves heating a slide flooded with carbol fuchsin.
“After heating the slide, a fire broke out and his lab coat caught fire. He ran out of the microbiology room to the stairs leading to the exit and he was rescued by one of his colleagues who managed to block him and thus allowing the others who were pursuing him to put out the fire.
“The accident came as a shock to the PSMI family since Emmanuel was one of our best students on attachment and was so used to the staining procedures. The previous day, he had done about 50 samples of the same procedure,” said Mugabe.
According PSMI, soon after the accident, Tsuro was rushed to West End Hospital where he was stabilised and transferred to Parirenyatwa Hospital which has a special burns unit where he was admitted until his death on Friday.
Added Mugabe: “It is indeed a deep loss not only to the Tsuro family but also the PSMI family and the nation at large since Emmanuel was a hardworking, dedicated and high-performing student.
“The young man was so bright in his studies and practical training at PSMI that the organisation had already considered employing him upon completion of his studies.”
Asked if all safety procedures at the laboratory are up to standard that they might not be held liable for the young man’s death, Mugabe said all employees go through safety training including on the possibility of fires breaking out and the last safety training for employees at the laboratory was conducted just a week before the incident.
“The clinical laboratory employees were trained for safety procedures by the quality assurance department and the laboratory is preparing itself for a Sadc safety quality assurance accreditation which by June will be complete.
“PSMI Clinical Laboratories operates within safety procedures and is guided by a safety handbook where all its employees are taken through the processes on how to handle inflammable and hazardous substances.
“Refresher courses are conducted at a regular basis to ensure the safety of the employees,” she said.