Is there more to safety than common sense? Steve Sadler thinks so. As head of UCAR's Health, Environment, and Safety Services (HESS), Steve is our guru for guidance on avoiding workplace hazards. He wants everyone to know about the many ways--some of them better known than others--that HESS can make your work environment safer.
From their new offices on the third floor of UCAR North, Steve and HESS assistant Ginger Hein traverse the organization, scouting out potential hazards and addressing them. NCAR and the other UCAR entities have admirable safety records to date, but they also have accidents--some very serious--and close calls. For instance, in December some highly flammable chemicals were stored incorrectly and could have exploded when some nearby paper caught on fire. This and other incidents have prompted management to call for a heightened awareness of safety hazards and how to prevent them.
Awareness is the key ingredient, says Steve. "This may sound corny, but unsafe situations are like rattlesnakes--just as dangerous and unpredictable. If a rattlesnake were loose in a room, you wouldn't ignore it. You'd be on the lookout and take some sort of action. The same goes for unsafe conditions of any kind."
Steve would like to help employees help themselves. Below is a roundup of various ways that HESS can help you purge your workplace of "rattlers." Steve (ext. 8550, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ginger (ext. 8555, email@example.com) urge you to scan this list and contact their office if there's any way they can serve you. Coming within the next few months will be a full manual outlining UCAR's safety policies and procedures. Also, a color insert with site-specific emergency guidelines will be distributed for placement in the front of your phone books. -- BH
What's wrong with this picture, ergonomically speaking? There are at least eight distinct problems with posture, equipment, and the like. To test your ergonomic knowledge, please contact Ginger Hein, ext. 8555 or firstname.lastname@example.org, by 25 May. If you can identify at least four of the problems, you will win a safety-related award.
Hazardous Chemicals Information
HESS tracks all hazardous chemicals going into and out of UCAR facilities and collects information on these chemicals. In keeping with federal law, this information is made available to employees via bright yellow books that hold Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), which are on hand wherever chemicals are used or stored within UCAR. HESS provides special training on how to read and interpret the MSDS information. Supervisors are asked to determine which employees need training and to contact HESS to arrange for a class. Employees are also welcome to contact HESS to obtain safety information for a hazardous chemical.
HESS will provide one-on-one consultation at the request of any staff member on how to work at computer terminals while avoiding the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and other maladies connected to computer use. These evaluations cover proper seating, monitor height, lighting levels, use of the mouse, locations of phones, and (if desired) measurements of electromagnetic fields. HESS supplies mouse and keyboard wrist rests at a nominal charge. For staff wishing to experiment with ergonomic equipment, there are demonstration chairs, keyboards, and mice available. Contact Ginger for more details or to arrange an evaluation.
Standard safety equipment is available at no cost to at-risk employees. This includes safety glasses, computer glasses, safety shoes, ear muffs and plugs, first-aid kits and supplies, fire extinguishers, and respirators. Contact Ginger for details.
Travel Hazards Review
HESS performs an individualized, detailed safety and security review for projects that call for extensive foreign travel or for remote travel within the United States. The review covers such topics as sanitation and hygiene, food and water safety, hazards unique to a site (such as snakes, rats, or mosquitoes), security precautions, medical evaluations and physician consultations, and first-aid supplies. To arrange for a review for your project, contact Steve.
All accidents at facilities or field sites are investigated by HESS. The goal is not to assess blame but rather to learn from the mistakes to prevent a repeat accident from occurring. Employees involved in an accident should notify HESS as soon as possible. If an injury occurs, staff should also file a Worker's Compensation First Report of Injury with Human Resources.
HESS either conducts or arranges for a wide number of safety-related training courses for employees with specific needs. Along with other areas noted in this article, training is conducted in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, safety in confined spaces, respiratory protection, fire extinguisher use, hazard communication, emergency response, prevention of falls, electrical and mechanical safety, and back- injury prevention. Supervisors normally identify the training needed by employees. If you are interested in being trained or have questions about such matters, please contact Steve or ask your supervisor to do so.
HESS collects, packages, and makes arrangements for proper disposal of all hazardous wastes, including batteries. Most of these are recycled or incinerated; they are never placed in landfills. If you have hazardous waste, please call HESS. Do not attempt to handle, store, or dispose of the waste yourself, and please do not flush any hazardous waste down the drains or toilets!
Environmental Protection and Toxic Spills
HESS monitors air, water, and soil discharges from UCAR operations to assure compliance with various pollution regulations. UCAR's policy is to minimize environmental pollution. If you have questions about appropriate discharge practices, contact Steve. HESS is solely responsible for the containment, cleanup, and disposal of toxic chemical spills. If one should occur, employees are to evacuate the area and contact HESS instead of attempting to clean up the spill themselves.
Radioactive Materials and Supertoxics
HESS assures compliance with a myriad of nuclear material regulations. Along with keeping an inventory of all materials, HESS conducts frequent tests to assure that no leakage is occurring and handles all disposal of radioactive materials. The office also monitors and controls the class of materials known as supertoxics, such as lead, asbestos, beryllium, carcinogens, and teratogens (agents that malform an embryo or fetus). If you have questions about a material or suspect that it may present a danger to you, please call Steve.