Environmental Health & Safety Programs
The purpose of conducting accident and incident investigations is to identify the root causes and implement effective corrective measures for the hazards involved. Accidents are distinguished from incidents in that accidents involve personal injury and/or property damage while incidents include both accidents as well as non injury/damage events. EHS accesses injury/illness reports and near-miss reports and initiates further investigation as appropriate.
This program covers the identification of asbestos containing building materials (acm) on campus, maintains an inventory of identified materials, provides an operations and maintenance program to ensure that acm is kept in good condition, and oversees the removal and control of asbestos related to construction project. In addition, the program ensures that employees receive the proper level of training commensurate with their job duties related to asbestos.
In order to ensure that HSU is in compliance with Local, State, and Federal regulations regarding the use of Biohazardous Materials (as cited by NIH, CDC, OSHA and other agencies governing the use of biological materials), a Biosafety Program has been developed, along with an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) which has been charged to approve work with Biohazardous Materials on campus to maintain safety and protect the faculty, staff, students, and surrounding community. HSU faculty, staff, and students who currently possess, store, use, or transport any Biohazardous Materials for teaching or research on or off campus, or are planning such use in the future, must submit a Biological Use Authorization Application with the Campus Biosafety Officer. “Biohazardous Materials include but are not limited to: infectious microorganisms, recombinant DNA, genetically modified microorganisms, human and non-human primate cells, cell culture, tissues, blood, blood products and other body fluids (e.g. saliva, sputum, urine), infectious plants and animals, and animals known to be reservoirs of zoonotic agents (whether alive or dead)."
The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recognized that disease causing organisms transmitted through contact with human blood presents a serious health risk to employees. Under this program training is provided to employees who may have occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens in the course of their work. A Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Response, Prevention and Control Plan is maintained by EHS.
The Chemical Hygiene Plan is a written program developed and implemented by Environmental Health and Safety which sets forth procedures, equipment, personal protective equipment and work practices that are capable of protecting employees from the health hazards presented by hazardous chemicals used in our student and research laboratories. Specific elements of the Chemical Hygiene Plan include standard operating procedures relevant to safety and health considerations to be followed when laboratory work involves the use of hazardous chemicals, criteria used to determine and implement control measures to reduce employee exposure to hazardous chemicals, provisions for employee information and training, provisions for medical consultation and medical examinations when required, and designation of a Chemical Hygiene Officer.
Confined spaces present hazards which necessitate specialized training and procedures. These types of spaces, e.g., sewer manholes and vaults, can present toxic or flammable atmospheres or other physical hazards which constitute imminent serious threats. Only those individuals specifically trained may enter these spaces. Supervisors should check with EHS prior to directing employees to enter confined spaces unless they have been properly trained and equipped.
Construction projects, big or small, present potential hazards to both the employees performing the work as well as campus employees or students in the vicinity of the work. EHS therefore plays a role to provide consultation and guidance on projects performed by HSU employees and to provide review and oversight of contractors' work to ensure that it does not pose an unacceptable risk to campus employees or students.
Electrically energized equipment and wires present the potential of shock and electrocution. The hazards and risks are not limited to high voltage systems. Consequently, all employees who are working on or servicing electrical equipment, instruments or wiring systems are required to have some related safety training. Contact EHS, ext. 5711, for guidance and direction on what level of training may be necessary for you.
Ergonomics is the evaluation of the interface between employees and the equipment or machines they use from computers to hand tools. The interface is evaluated to determine whether or not there is a proper fit between the two. Proper fit ensures that the employees are not exposed to awkward positions or repetitive motions which place them at risk of injury. EHS will perform ergonomic evaluations of an employee's work area and activities upon request and make recommendations for improvements and appropriate.
The University seeks to maintain airborne chemical exposures to employees well within the regulatory limits set by Cal/OSHA. Because the chemical related activities within a university like HSU are limited in scope and duration, it is very infrequent that employee exposure levels approach regulatory limits. Employees may, however, contact EHS to request an exposure evaluation that typically entails a work area inspection and potentially sampling to quantify contaminants.
Under this program safety inspections of chemical storage sites are periodically conducted to insure compliance with applicable regulations. Consultation and guidance is offered to campus employees concerning safe chemical management practices. Training is offered in hazardous materials management and spill response is also provided under this program.
EHS staff hold the state certification of hazardous materials technician for the purpose of responding to haz-mat releases. The goal of the program is to ensure that responses to spills reduce the risk of injury to individuals as well as prevent or limit the damage to the environment and/or university property. EHS responds to spills involving various laboratory chemicals, commercial products as well as automobile fuels and liquids.
The hazardous waste program focuses on the sound management of chemical wastes generated by a variety of processes and operations on campus. Hazardous wastes are characterized, packaged, transported and accumulated by EHS staff and student assistants in accordance with a stringent array of Federal, State, and local regulations. EHS oversees the cradle-to-grave process of disposal by a contracted, certified waste hauler.
In the past three decades indoor air quality has become a more important factor in the American work place safety issue because buildings have become more energy efficient most often by being more air tight. Indoor air quality is affected by the buildings ventilation system, the types of activities in the building, the occupant loading of the building, remodel or construction activities, housekeeping, and external sources of pollutants. Plant Operations and EHS work together to help ensure that appropriate steps are taken to evaluate and address indoor air quality issues in a timely manner.
Industrial Hygiene is the professional discipline of anticipating, identifying, evaluating, and controlling work place hazards. Functionally, EHS provides IH services in the form of exposure monitoring of airborne contaminants, sound level measurements, assessments of work place practices and hazards, and identification of appropriate measures to mitigate hazards.
This broad scope program is the foundation of all other occupational health and safety programs administered by EHS. The IIP program is implemented at the department level with the use of department safety coordinators and department specific IIP plans. The focus of the program is to ensure that there are effective means of hazard identification and correction, communication of safety issues both to employees as well as from employees to management, training of employees, and regularly scheduled safety inspections of the work areas.
Laboratories present a multitude of hazards both physical and chemical. The diversity of instructional and research activities within laboratories thus requires the laboratory supervisors to address safety issues specific to each type of laboratory activity and setting. This is accomplished through the Chemical Hygiene Plan, a resource and planning document that the laboratory supervisors use to specify what hazards and corresponding safety practices are relevant to each experiment or procedure.
Some job tasks, usually associated with the skilled trades of painting and plumbing, present potential exposures to sources of lead. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious chronic health problems if not controlled to prevent over exposure. EHS provides consultative guidance to supervisors who have employees potentially exposed to lead in the work place.
Noise can constitute an occupational hazard if the sound levels in the work area are too high. Excess noise exposure can cause permanent hearing loss, increase blood pressure, cause stress, make for difficult communication, and create an unsafe distraction. EHS can perform sound level surveys of the work area and consult with the supervisor about what measures can be taken to reduce sound levels as appropriate.
The university uses both radioactive materials and ionizing radiation producing machines in the normal course of specific instructional and/or researching activities as well as support in medical services provided by the Student Health Center. These materials and machines are strictly controlled through the university's radioactive materials license that is issued and regulated by the state Radiologic Health Branch. The coordinator for EHS also serves as the Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) and issues use authorizations to those individuals who use either radioactive materials or radiation producing machines.
EHS manages the respiratory protection program for the university. This program is mandated by Cal/OSHA to ensure that employees who are issued respirators are properly qualified by a physician, and have been fit tested and trained on the specific respirator that they are issued. The program also provides an opportunity for EHS to evaluate the work activity to identify the opportunities for other control measures which would alleviate the need for a respirator.
The University is required by CalOSHA regulations to conduct regularly scheduled periodic safety inspections. Supervisors can consult with EHS on what is the appropriate periodicity of inspection for specific work areas and what items are the most important to evaluate.
Safety training is a core essential element to the university's health and safety program. The goal is to train employees on the hazards and safe work practices associated with their job tasks and work areas. Supervisors have the primary responsibility to provide and/or arrange for the safety training. EHS offers various safety training courses and will work with supervisors to ensure that employees receive the appropriate training.
Laboratories present a multitude of hazards as well as some common chemical hazards. In a campus setting the activities vary in complexity and timing unlike a production shop in the private sector. Consequently, the shop technician must be broadly training in a variety of safety issues and practices.
Humboldt State University follows Best Management Practices to reduce pollutants to the MEP or Maximum Extent Practicable as outlined in the SWMP. Training about storm water pollution prevention is offered annually through the EH&S department. A link to the training site is offered on the home page.
To report illicit discharges, gas or oil leaks or to suggest new or improved management practices for pollution generating activities, please contact Sabrina Zink at 826-3302.
The EHS staff are academically and professionally trained to assess the physical and health hazards posed by hazardous materials. An employee or supervisor may contact EHS for more complete hazard information about a material if the manufacturer's label and/or MSDS is not providing the desired information.