The beginning of the academic year and the calendar year are both great times to start fresh, take an inventory of the safety risks on your campus, and resolve to take actions to remedy any shortcomings.
Although trash removal sounds like a simple task, it poses a real risk of back injuries for custodial staff when performed improperly. Consider these safety changes to reduce this risk:
- Replace large trash receptacles with smaller ones, making loads easier to manage.
- If you can’t replace large trash receptacles, don’t overfill and use a new bag when it gets half full.
- Make it mobile; pushing cans is easier than lifting them.
- Use dumpsters with a side door. The side sliding door will ease the burden of tossing and hoisting.
Equipment and machine guards
Protective guards are often removed from equipment and tools for easier use, but sharp, hot, or exposed rotating parts can be dangerous. Consider these safety changes to reduce risk:
- Ensure maintenance, shop, and even science labs are using equipment with properly installed guards.
- Check for broken equipment, frayed cords, over loaded outlets, and machines that need proper cleaning.
- Authorized staff should lock and tag items for repair or disposal.
A stroll down the sidewalks on campus will help identify sidewalk hazards. Consider fixing these problem areas to reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls:
- large cracks and gaps
- uneven surfaces
- low hanging branches
- broken concrete
- exposed rebar
- improper drainage
If areas with high traffic have these problems, repairing and improving them should be prioritized. Sidewalk joints should be installed because they let the concrete expand rather than buckle during hot weather. Finally, all areas being repaired should be clearly marked and blocked off to avoid slips, trips, and falls.
Ladders are helpful tools but they should not be overlooked for dangers. Inspect them when they are new, each time before using, and especially if they have been dropped or damaged. Never use any ladder that is bowed, twisted, or wobbles. Consider replacing ladders that have:
- missing rungs
- signs of wood rot
- loose steps or loose/missing screws
- signs of excessive wear like corrosion and rust
- faulty locking mechanisms
Ventilate volatile and toxic substances
Chemicals should always be stored in secured and ventilated areas on a campus. Consider these additional safety rules to reduce risk:
- Properly label all chemicals whether they are in labs, custodial closets, or in shop classes.
- Use words, symbols, and pictures for clear warnings.
- Store chemicals at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature and humidity.
- Segregate chemicals based on their hazards and take additional precautions with combustibles, acids, and flammables.
- Have an emergency exhaust fan available for use when needed.
Hazardous materials can be a complicated subject, so please contact us if you have questions.
Hazards inside the office are a growing problem and are often overlooked. Tasks with repetitive motions, poor lighting, noise pollution, questionable indoor air quality, and improperly placed equipment are real problems with potentially easy fixes. Ask your Risk Solutions consultant for help with ergonomics. Follow up with office staff that are feeling discomfort while working.
In case of emergency, the ability to leave quickly is of utmost importance. All doorways should be identified with an “Exit” or “No Exit” sign. Exit signs should be lit and routine testing on backup batteries should be completed monthly. Exit doors should remain unlocked at all times from the inside and should never be blocked, allowing for a quick and safe way out.
Commit to these simple safety resolutions that will protect and benefit staff, students, the community, and you. Make this year the year of safety! Contact your risk solutions consultant for help with assessing and mitigating risks on your campus.