Tag Archives: Safety

Safety Tip—Eye Strain

Using computers and other screens is unavoidable but there are ways to make it easier on your eyes, and keep them in tip-top shape. This all starts when you sit down at your computer, make sure to position the computer screen an arm’s length away at eye level. Next adjust display brightness to approximately the same brightness as the surrounding area. Adjust text size and contrast for easier reading. Once you are all set up and working remember to look away from the screen, about every 20 minutes, and focus on a distant object for 20 seconds. Next time you are reading a book or magazine also try this tips to prevent your eyes from fatigue.

Baby with magazine

For more information on eye health please visit The National Institute of Health’s website.


Safety Focus—Staying Safe While Traveling

With nice traveling months ahead of us, Business Operations felt it appropriate to devote this Safety Focus to staying safe while on the road.

Travel Mode IconReview the escape route in your hotel room

We all do it—when checking into a hotel room, we’re tired from travel and more focused on the hotel amenities than studying the escape route map on the back of the door. But before getting too settled in, please take a look at the emergency escape routes! It’s better to know and not need to than not know and be lost if an emergency arises when everyone is sleeping.

Don’t flash your cash or valuables

Keeping your cash separated, with a little spending money easily accessible and the rest hidden, will help you from showing off a big bundle of cash every time you pay. Although it’s tempting to have your smartphone out while you look up directions or take photos, be mindful of your surroundings—thieves are known to grab cell phones from people using them on trains and run off at the next stop.

For more travel safety tips, please read this article from USA Today.


Safety Tip: Slips and Falls

Living in the Keweenaw and working at Michigan Tech, we know how to handle slippery conditions outside with all of the snow and ice, but slips and falls are just as likely to occur inside. To avoid these situations here are some tips for staying clear of tripping hazards. Slips and falls icon

  • Wear proper footwear—shoes with good traction.
  • Using handrails when available will help you stay upright.
  • Avoid distractions while walking, like looking at a cellphone.
  • When entering buildings be sure to wipe your feet, this prevents slippery areas and helps keep the floor dry and clear of debris.
  • Keeping your home and office area well-lit will help you to be aware of potential hazards you may have forgotten about.
  • Ensure that electrical and phone cords are secured away from high-traffic areas, like hallways and around employees’ desks.
  • Always keep cabinets and drawers closed when not in use.

If you ever find yourself in need of assistance please contact Public Safety at (906) 487-2216.


Safety Tip of the Week—Electrical Safety

Electrical Safety IconWe’ve all seen that outlet that is filled to capacity. Extension cords everywhere and cords tangled in a knot that has no foreseeable end.  Did you know that this situation could be a fire hazard and an example of poor electrical safety practice? This week’s safety tip of the week is dealing with electrical safety.

An easy thing to remember is to unplug appliances when they are unused, this also saves money on electric bills.

When unplugging a cord, pull gently at the plug rather than the cord itself.

Replace and damaged electrical equipment immediately; do not attempt to repair equipment unless qualified and authorized—you wouldn’t was to shock yourself.

Do not use electrical equipment in wet or damp conditions without a ground fault circuit interrupter—water conducts electricity and could seriously injure you.

Do not tie power cords in knots; this can lead to short circuits. Only use extension cords for temporary use.

Do not overload outlets with power strips and adapters.

Allow air circulation around appliances to prevent over heating, and use light bulbs with the correct wattage to prevent overheating.

Switch power tools OFF before connecting them to a power supply.

Poor Electrical Safety Practice has the potential to start a fire—if you find you self in that situation call 911 immediately.

For other information visit the OSHA website: osha.gov/Publications/electrical_safety.html


Winter Safety Tips

Mittens VS. Gloves

Gloves may look fashionable but using mittens are much more safe. When your fingers are able to touch each other inside mittens, they generate more body heat than when they’re inside gloves.

Warm up Before Shoveling

Before you shovel all the snow and ice outside of your home or workplace, do some stretching exercises first. Alternatively, marching in place or walking for a couple of minutes will warm up your muscles, allowing you to work more efficiently and reduce the risk of injuring yourself.

Michigan Tech from Mont RipleyRock salt + Kitty Litter = Safer walkways

Have some rock salt and kitty litter or sand on hand. Rock salt helps melt the ice on slippery surfaces. Kitty litter and sand gives temporary traction.

Warm up Before Driving Off

Just like stretching exercises before working outside prevents injury to you, warming up your vehicle prevents damage to your car, too. This also helps reduce the moisture condensation on the inside of your car windows. Remember, though, not to warm up your vehicle in a closed garage.

Report those Damaged Lines!

After a winter storm, immediately report any downed power lines or broken gas lines in your area or workplace.


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/