Category Archives: Safety

Safety Tip—Illness Prevention

There are many things that can be done to prevent the spread of illnesses in the workplace and around campus. Simple things like washing your hands with soap and water after using the restroom or coughing into your arm or into a tissue can stop the spread of germs and keep people from getting sick. Disinfecting a surface or object that may be contaminated will greatly reduce the risk of spreading your own or someone else’s illness to unsuspecting individuals. Some of the best ways to stay healthy are by drinking plenty of fluids, exercising, and making sure to get enough sleep.

Image of germ graphic


Safety Corner—Office Ergonomics

ergonomics-iconWe’ve all had those days where time just drags on, and as time progresses you noticed you’ve gone from sitting up right to slouching in your chair. A good way to avoid this is to use the lumbar chair support to relieve pressure on vertebrae—it gives support without you having to think about it. When setting-up you chair, be sure that your feet comfortably reach the floor while seated. Ensure screens are at proper height to avoid neck strain. Even if you are following these tips take breaks, stand and stretch every half hour while at a sitting workstation. If you really want to change things up consider incorporating a standing work station. You’ll still want to make sure your screen is positioned correctly, but it helps with back problems. Whether you’re using a sitting or standing workstation, the mouse position should be close and at the same height as the key board. To avoid carpal tunnel, use palm and wrist rests or ergonomic keyboards while typing. Following these simple tips could make your workday better and your body will thank you for the extra comfort.

Comment with your safety tips for office health!


5th Floor Retreat and Training

The Huntington National Bank Building’s fifth floor has welcomed the Michigan Tech Fund Employees from the 8th floor into their office space. In an effort to become more of an inclusive environment and to get to know the new members of the floor, Business Operations and the Office of Information Services hosted the Tech Fund employees in a 5th floor retreat and training half-day.

Team Building Exercise

The retreat consisted of forming two mingled groups out of the floor members to test their group building skills while attempting to solve the various puzzles of Career Services’ escape room. The two teams then discussed the job duties they perform, general likes and dislikes to compare and create an affinity diagram.

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The whole floor also participated in the Active Shooter Training provided by Michigan Tech’s Public Safety Lieutenant Marc Geberkoff. The floor updated their old safety plans and shared the documents with the floor members and the course trainer.

For more information on Career Services’ Escape Room, please contact career@mtu.edu.

For more information on the Active Shooter Training Provided by Micihgan Tech’s Public Safety, please visit the Active Shooter Training for Workplaces website.


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.


Safety Topic—Active Shooter Training

Police officer with students

Business Operations and the Office of Information Services received hands-on active shooter training from Public Safety. The training was on the 5th Floor of the Huntington National Bank Building where the offices are housed. The training focused on customizing a response plan that could be executed in the office’s daily location in the event of an active shooter threat. After the training, our staff developed and recorded the customized active shooter response plan for the staff and students who work on the floor. The plan includes three different threat scenarios: “Get Out,” “Lock Out,” and “Take Out.” The “Get Out” plan involves everyone on the floor safely leaving the building and meeting up in a safe place. For the “Lock Out” plan, the offices are creating a “goBag” in case those on the floor need supplies while they wait out the threat and are in a safe, barricaded place to do so. The “Take Out” plan is only used in the event that those on the floor cannot use the “Get Out” or “Lock Out” options. When the students who work in the offices come back this fall, there will be a training on what the new response plans are in order to ensure everyone understands the plan and that it’s easy to follow.

Having these plans in place and regularly practiced will give the staff and student employees an set of instructions in-case of an active shooter on the floor or in the building.


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.

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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.