Tag Archives: Safety

Fixing the Door to Nowhere

There was a door at the North East corner (campus side) of the Memorial Union Building originally meant to have steps to a patio. The patio and stairs where never built and the door was thereafter known as a door way to nowhere.

North East Door 005
Fixing the Door to Nowhere—Before
North Ramp 0662
Fixing the Door to Nowhere—After

Auxiliary services decided to make a capital request to construct a ramp and replace the existing door with an automatic sliding door. The request was approved and construction began in June. The railings were powder coated, the new threshold installed, and the sliding door was activated before orientation week, 2017. The handicap entrance is now open for the new academic year.

North Ramp 069

Before this ramp was built, the Memorial Union did not have a handicap accessible entrance on the campus-side of the building. The new ramp is the first heated handicap ramp on campus, and it should not have to be shoveled to keep the ramp clear during snow events—allowing year-round access to those who need it.


Hazard Analysis—Learn and Be Safe!

Think back, deep in to your memory, when was the last time either at work or at home that you did something that gave you pause? Something that made you think, wow, that could have really hurt. Most people do not have to think very hard, or for very long. Life is full of hazards, and we all take risks.

The severity of these risks and their social, or legal acceptability is where we must stop and really think. Driving to work each day is a risk, there are countless automobile accidents every day resulting in injuries, property damage, and fatalities, yet the vast majority of us get behind the wheel and drive every single day. Am I asking you to stop driving? Maybe, depending on your driving record, but that decision is typically left up to a judge.

So maybe driving is a bad example, but now I have your attention. Think about processes in your workday that involve hazards; paper shredders, ladders, hazardous chemicals, the possibilities are endless, the next few paragraphs will outline a basic process for hazard analysis that can help you stay safer at work and at home.

warning sign

To start, think about the task at hand, let’s use shredding paper as an example. So the task is to shred paper. The hazard is the paper shredder, it is sharp, it has a motor, and its purpose is to suck things into it and destroy them, a bad place for your clothing, hair, or appendages.

After identifying the hazard we have to consider the potential exposure you may have to it, this creates risk. Risk is only in play when you have an exposure to the hazard. The paper shredder sitting the corner is a hazard, but as long as you do not turn it on or use it, there is no risk, once you engage the equipment you have exposed yourself to the hazard, and therefore have created risk.

In our example, your job requires you to shred paper, so there is a possibility of harm, thus risk. If we have risk, then we must employ controls to attempt to control the risk. There is an entire hierarchy of controls that we can put into play to control the risk, they range from eliminating the hazard completely, to wearing personal protective equipment, the hierarchy is interesting and will serve as a good topic for another blog post. In the case of the paper shredder we will put engineering controls into play in the form of guards that shield the blades of the shredder, as well as administrative controls in the form of training, procedures, and warning signs.

So have we taken it far enough, we have a task with a hazard, we have identified risk, and put controls into place? No, the final step is a standard procedure that outlines these items and describes a consistent way to utilize the controls to stay safe. That all important procedure drives consistency, eliminates variables, and keeps us all safer.

So that’s it, a basic process (evaluate the task, describe the hazard, identify risk, develop appropriate controls, establish safe procedures) that will help you analyze hazards. Give it a try, choose something simple to start, and take a few minutes to analyze the hazard, I’d love to hear about the results in the comments section of this blog.

If you have questions on safety protocols, situations, or procedures please contact the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) at 906-487-2118 or email ehs@mtu.edu.


Safety Tip of the Week—Heat Stress Prevention

Business Operations and Environmental Health and Safety present the Michigan Tech Safety Tip of the week: Heat Stress Prevention! Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress. There are many ways to prevent heat stress and stay comfortable while working outside in the summer. First, know the symptoms of heat exhaustion to help yourself and those around you: dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakness, and breathing problems. If you notice these symptoms, find a shaded or air-conditioned area to rest at and drink plenty of fluids. Steps to reduce heat stress can involve wearing the right attire such as a brimmed hat and light colored clothing, allowing yourself to acclimate to the heat by gradually increasing your workload, arranging frequent rest periods in shaded or air conditioned areas, and drinking water every 15 minutes or one pint per hour.

If you have any questions on this or other safety topics, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at 906-487-2118 or ehs@mtu.edu

beachrunning-small


New Initiatives—Allergen Awareness

AllVerticalSome people have allergies that can be life threatening and Dining Services, along with Michigan Tech, strives for a safe and inclusive environment. Part of process improvement in Dining Services is to identify that our customers (faculty, staff, students, and general public) require allergen information as many people suffer from food related allergies. In an effort to create a safe environment, Dining Services has begun the task of identifying the “big eight” food allergens (eggs, wheat, soy, fish, shell fish/crustaceans, tree nuts, peanuts, and milk/dairy) in their recipes and convenience food products. Dining Services has created icons to help identify these allergens in an effort to communicate the food allergens in a graphic based, non-textual manner.

The process involves going through every recipe, reading every product ingredient label and identifying which foods contain the “big eight” allergens. During this process, Dining Services has discovered that they must read all of the labels and not just the allergen information as they have found the allergen information to be incorrect or incomplete. An example of such an incomplete allergen label was found when the allergen listed for wheat tortillas was “wheat” but when all of the ingredients were read through, Dining found that the tortillas contained “soybean oil” as well. The FDA exempts highly refined soybean oil from being labeled as an allergen. Studies show most (but not all) individuals with a soy allergy can safely eat soy oil that has been highly refined (not cold-pressed, expeller-pressed or extruded soybean oil). However, Dining Services wants to have all of the allergens listed no matter how small the risk to the customers.

Another part of the process consists of identifying the ingredients or products that may list the product allergen as “may contain” which means the product may be produced in a factory that also process products that contain one or several of the “big eight” allergens, such as peanuts. Dining Services is listing these products as it contains that allergen as we wish to be safe rather than sorry.

Dining started this process in the residential dining halls about a year and half ago, listing the allergen icons on the food lines. The next step being the addition of the food allergens on the Dining website.


Incident Command Team – Successful Drill

KIMG0221The Incident Command Team at Michigan Tech coordinated a successful drill activation for the emergency call center last fall. Theresa Coleman-Kaiser, Associate Vice President for Administration, is part of the Logistics Section of the Incident Command Team. One of the responsibilities of the Logistics section is to activate a temporary call center at the request of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). In the event of a large University or community incident occurring, the EOC will determine the need for a call center and activate it if needed. There are multiple locations set for the call center and the specific location will be determined at that time of the emergency depending on the incident. The Logistics section coordinated an exercise, in October of 2016, where an “incident” occurred, requiring the call center to be activated. The call center staff was briefed on the “incident” by Public Safety and then had practice callers dial in with questions, comments, and concerns. The call center staff was able to practice setting up the call center, answering the phones, and responding to the caller’s concerns and questions. Additional ideas to further develop this call center were identified and were addressed with more training. The team received the additional training in January, it focused on a “shots fired” scenario. During this training, a Public Safety dispatcher was in attendance to answer questions and share stories of calls that have come into them. This training is taking place to establish a functioning team of respondents that will, in the event of a major University incident, be available to answer questions and address concerns from the general public and the campus community.

You can find more information on this and other Vice President for Administration Committees here: http://www.mtu.edu/administration/leadership/committee-task-force/


Safety Tip: If You See a Mountain Lion

Seem as Large as Possible
Make yourself appear larger by picking up children, leashing pets in, and standing close to other people. Open your jacket. Raise your arms. Wave your raised arms slowly.
Make Noise
Yell, shout, bang your walking stick or water bottle. Make any loud sound that cannot be confused by the lion as the sound of prey. Speak slowly and loudly.
Act Defiant, Not Afraid
Maintain eye contact. Never run past or away from a mountain lion. Don’t bend over or crouch down.
Slowly Create Distance
Assess the situation. Consider whether you may be between the lion and its kittens, prey or cache. Back away slowly to give the mountain lion a path to retreat, never turning your back.
Protect Yourself
If attacked, fight back. Protect your neck and throat. People have used rocks, jackets, garden tools, walking sticks, and even bare hands to turn away mountain lions.

cougar


Michigan Tech Safety Manual

Michigan Technological University’s mission is to “prepare students to create the future” this requires students to be involved in the use of a wide variety of hazardous materials and processes that require special training and control measures to protect students, employees, and the environment from harm. To oversee this mission, Michigan Tech has created their University Safety Manual. This manual is to be referenced for the university’s policy on responsibilities, action plans, committees, and safety procedures including electrical, equipment, laboratory, and in general. At Michigan Tech, all students, faculty, and staff are all responsible for their individual safety performance and for the protection of the environment, it is the responsibility of all to maintain and prevent damage to the environment and follow the guidelines laid down by the university to achieve that.

mtu safety manualThe Safety Manual includes ten chapters on various procedures and protocols that may arise while working or studying at Michigan Tech. The first chapter begins with the Responsibilities of each university employee, faculty, or student on campus in regards to their own safety and the safety of others; the manual then goes on to specify Emergency Action and Fire Prevention; Safety Health and Environmental Policies; Safety Committees; General Safety; Storage and Handling of Hazardous Materials; Environmental Protection; Electrical Safety; Equipment Safety; and, finally, Laboratory Safety.

To review the Safety Manual please visit: http://www.mtu.edu/ehs/documents/safety-manual/

If you have questions on safety protocols, situations, or procedures please contact the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) at 906-487-2118 or email ehs@mtu.edu.


Wads Safety Pilot Project

In an effort to continuously improve the safety processes and procedures, The Vice President for Administration (VPA) is launching a Safety Initiative within the Wadsworth Dining area. Wadsworth Dining has made excellent strides to create and maintain a safe working environment for the staff and student workers. VPA’s Business Operations Office worked with the Safety Office and Wadsworth Dining management to brainstorm a plan to improve Wadsworth Dining’s safety features. The new safety initiative will include the standardization of the safety signs that are hung in the working areas within the dining center. Using American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sign standards, Business Operations created signs to replace the old signs in Wadsworth Dining.

The old signs (shown below-left) were cluttered with too many words and warnings on a single sign. They didn’t draw the eye and failed to communicate the message in a efficient way.

New signs (shown below-right) have a clear “Warning”, “Caution”, or “Notice” label across the top. They also have a pictorial representation of what the sign is communicating and clear and concise wording to let people who what needs to be done. Business Operations separated each warning into it’s own poster to better display the various potential hazards in the area.

Through the use of these signs, VPA hopes to increase awareness of the potential hazards in a standardized and consistent manner. By maintaining a constant safety presence through these signs, training, and safety outreach, Wadsworth Dining will foster a growing safety culture and take strides in reducing accidents and injuries.

wadsDiningSafetySigns