Workplace Safety

Call 9-1-1 in any life-threatening situation

Introduction

Each year, safety issues or emergencies in the workplace cause physical injuries, illnesses, extra financial expenses, and even fatalities. The most current statistics from The Bureau of Labor Statistics show nearly 3.0 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2012. That's a huge amount, especially when you note that these results only tabulate certain industries, and no fatalities are included in these statistics.

Workplace Safety means the control and elimination of recognizable workplace hazards to attain an acceptable level of risk.

Science Lab Safety

Science labs are inherently high risk for workplace injuries due to the presence of chemicals and lab experiments. By following a few proper safety procedures in the labs and prep rooms, we can reduce our risk of spills, fires, and injuries.

  • All employees handling or using chemicals are required to have an initial OSHA training on their newly implemented handling standards. Employees can take the training in Canvas via this link: https://learn.maricopa.edu/enroll/YN7PGF.
  • Always make sure appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) is worn when handling chemicals or doing experiments. This includes both students and employees. This might include gloves, goggles or safety glasses, lab coats, or even face shields. Ensure PPE is appropriately disposed of after use.
  • Make sure all bottles containing contents are clearly labeled and capped or covered when not currently in use. This even includes water! Follow OSHA guidelines for labeling found at this link: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3636.pdf
  • Proper disposal of chemicals or items contaminated with chemical residue (rags, containers, etc.) is essential. Learn the disposal guidelines for the chemicals you are using, including both Hazardous Waste requirements and departmental procedures.
  • Be familiar with safety protocol in the area. Know the location of fire extinguisher, fire alarm, spill kits, eyewashes, gas shut-off, and emergency phone numbers. Much of this information is posted near the phone in the labs and prep rooms.
  • No food or drink is permitted in labs or prep rooms under any circumstances. Please store your food and drink outside the labs on the tables or in the lockers provided. 

The following brief video about a lab accident is a testament to the importance of following all lab safety guidelines to avoid preventable accidents. 

Lab accidents not only injure your health and well-being, they can also lead to fines and possibly closure of labs at schools.

Slips, Trips, & Falls:

Falls are the most common office accident, accounting for the greatest number of disabling injuries. In fact, office workers are twice as likely to suffer a fall as non-office workers. There are many different reasons why employees fall while on the job. They could fall while walking, climbing ladders and stairs, and even while sitting in chairs. People can trip over telephone and electrical cords, open desk and file drawers, loose or worn carpeting and rugs, debris, and equipment and packages left in aisles “just for a moment.”

Prevent slips, trips, and falls in the workplace by following these commonsense safety rules:

  • Always watch where you are walking.  Seeing a spill or item in your way before you encounter it could prevent your fall.
  • When not in use, keep all items that could impede a walkway, such as drawers, cabinet doors, boxes, and chairs, pushed in or out of the way.
  • Report any broken items.
  • Keep your surroundings tidy.  If anything falls on the floor, such as liquid, paper, or a pencil, clean them up immediately.  Small items such as these can easily cause a slip or fall.
  • When going down stairs, use the hand rails and proceed with caution.
  • If you work in an area which tends to be wet, oily, dirty, or slick, wear slip resistant footwear (tennis shoes, work boots), and keep the soles clean for better traction.
  • Lock or rope off areas which are dangerous. Follow signage that directs you around construction or repair areas, and stay on designated pathways.
  • Before using a ladder, inspect it to see that it is in good condition.

Sprains & Strains

Neck and back injuries from improper lifting, unexpected twisting, jerking, or overexertion often disable office workers. Learn and follow proper lifting techniques and always get help with heavy or awkward loads. A sprain is caused when a person places excessive demands on a joint, which is the place where two bones are connected to each other by a ligament. A strain is a tearing of a muscle caused by overexerting or pulling a muscle. Back strains and knee sprains are common occupational injuries.

Prevent strains and sprains in the workplace by following these simple rules:

  • If possible use a machine or device to help you lift and carry objects, such as a rolling cart or handcart.
  • Take several trips for loads that are heavy and can be divided into several smaller loads
  • Bend the knees and do not turn when lifting to avoid injuring the back
  • Hold the object close to your body, this will create less of a strain on your muscles

Musculo-Skeletal Disorders (MSD)

MSDs are injuries and illnesses that affect muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints or spinal discs. Workers suffering from MSDs may experience less strength for gripping, less range of motion, loss of muscle function, and inability to do everyday tasks.

Common causes of MSDs are:

  • Repetition – such as long or concentrated hours of typing or using a mouse.
  • Awkward Positions - Awkward postures include repeated or prolonged reaching, twisting, bending, kneeling, squatting, working overhead with your hands or arms, or holding fixed positions.
  • Forceful Exertions -  Force is the amount of physical effort required to perform a task (such as heavy lifting) or to maintain control of equipment or tools.
  • Contact Stress - Pressing the body against a hard or sharp edge can result in placing too much pressure on nerves, tendons and blood vessels.
  • Vibration - Operating vibrating tools such as sanders, grinders, chippers, routers, drills and other saws can lead to nerve damage.

By using the principles of ergonomics, (the science of fitting the workplace to the worker instead of forcing the worker to fit the workplace), you can adjust your work environment to fit your body.... and avoid the stresses that cause so much pain and discomfort.

A Good Place to Start

As an employer; MCC has the responsibility to ensure that we:

  • Ensure that the workplace is safe and free of hazards.
  • Maintain that alcohol and illegal drugs are banned from the workplace.
  • Stop employees from using tools that are unsafe
  • Stop employees from entering unsafe places
  • Enforce rules that affect a safe work environment for all employees

As an employee; you have the responsibility to:

  • Participate with the employer’s rules about safety and health.
  • Read and follow all safety procedure materials.
  • Attempt to prevent all job accidents.
  • Not wear torn or loose clothing while working around machinery, and always clean area and take care of equipment.
  • Report any injury or illness to your supervisor.
  • Do not remove any safety warnings.
  • Do not threaten anyone else’s right to safety and health.

Downloads & Resources

 

Risk Assessment at Work

Laptop Ergonomics