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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Workplace safety examined at UA

    Safety is always a concern on campus for students, but workplace safety is also of concern to UA employees.

    There were a total of 213 work-related injuries at the UA last year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration 300 Log, which is maintained and posted in the office of Risk Management and Safety.

    Although this may sound like a high number of incidents, Steve Holland, director of Risk Management and Safety, said he thinks the UA is a pretty safe campus.

    Holland said the most common type of injury on campus is what is called a “”struck by”” injury, when an employee bumps his head on a low ceiling or is hit by something. Other common injuries are strains and sprains, which may happen if an employee bends in an unusual way or strains a back muscle.

    Although the fire marshal does periodic inspections of buildings, violations are more commonly noticed on an on-demand basis rather than a regular inspection schedule, Holland said.

    One safety concern on any college campus is the elevators in almost every building.

    In January, a technician was working on repairs to an elevator in the Modern Languages building when he was caught between the car and the shaft wall and was dragged two floors down.

    “”It was not a mechanical problem,”” said Chris Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management. “”Nobody knows the cause.””

    Elevator inspectors from OSHA said they did not find Facilities Management at fault for the incident, Kopach said.

    The elevator was taken offline and is being upgraded because of the accident. Kopach said this elevator was on a list along with 20 others around campus, and it should be back up and running in October.

    Space on campus is at a premium and sometimes storage gets in the way of safety.

    “”Concerns do crop up from time to time, but most departments do the best they can,”” Holland said.

    When equipment is replaced and isn’t moved for a while, it can cause a problem. There are three major concerns with this type of occurrence.

    Facilities Management does not want any hallway to be physically impeded, and stairwells need to remain clear to preserve an exit in case of an emergency. The last concern is that cardboard boxes are a hazard from a combustion standpoint.

    There is a specific standard for what are called “”confined spaces,”” which are large enough for employees to enter and perform assigned work but have limited means for entering and exiting and are not designed for continuous employee occupancy, according to the Risk Management Web site.

    Tanks, silos and storage bins are just a few examples. Holland estimated there are between 50 and 100 confined spaces on campus. This includes areas in the utility tunnel system underground. However, the tunnel system itself is not classified as a confined area because it is designed for human access to utility systems.

    Safety also includes renovations to buildings, which happen on a yearly basis, and there is a process of deferred maintenance and Facilities Management is in the process of submitting several projects, said Kopach.

    About 24 classrooms were upgraded last year, including painting, lighting, replacing floor tile and furniture, along with replacing chalk boards with white boards.

    In addition to being more modern, there was a health reason for upgrading to white boards: dust from the chalk caused problems, Kopach said.

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