What is SafeColleges?

What is SafeColleges?SafeColleges

The SafeColleges Training System is a comprehensive, web-based training system that delivers engaging compliance and prevention training for students, faculty, and staff. The site offers a series of online research-based courses covering Human Resources and Employment practices, Environmental Health & Safety, Information Technology, Emergency Management, Social & Behavioral, and Security and Nutrition Services. Courses comply with important federal legislation, including Title IX, FERPA, and OSHA.

SafeColleges offers training modules in the various topics in video formats anywhere from 10 – 25 minutes and presented in real life applications.

Maggie Crutcher, Environmental Safety Manager for Green River College, has been instrumental in making better use of this web-based training system by implementing programs that support environmental safety and compliance at GRC. If you want to learn more about SafeColleges and what you can do to support compliance at GRC please contact Maggie Crutcher (mcrutcher@greenriver.edu).

State Employee Suicide Prevention

Suicide PreventionOver the past year, a number of individuals have been involved with an interagency work group headed up by our state’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to address the troubling reality of suicide. The work group’s first outcome is the recent release of the new state employee suicide prevention website. There are six main sections: Get Help Now; Help a Loved One; Help a Coworker; Manager and HR Resources; If You Have Lost Someone to Suicide; and Understanding Suicide. Click on the link below for more information.

Suicide Prevention and Intervention Resources

It’s time for flu shots!

On behalf of Sheryl Gordon, Benefits Manager:

Flu ShotThe Seattle Visiting Nurse Association (SVNA) will be conducting a flu immunization clinic at Green River College again this year!  The clinic is scheduled for:

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

9:00 a.m. – 12 noon

Student Union – Emerald City Room

Please see the links below for the Patient Consent Form, Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) and the Seattle Visiting Nurses’ Association Privacy Statement. You don’t need to sign up for your flu shot, just show up with your completed Patient Consent Form on the day of the clinicSVNA also recommends you bring your insurance card to the clinicEveryone will need to complete the Patient Consent Form; the information is required in order to process the billing.

2018 Patient Consent Form

Vaccine Information Statement

Privacy Practices

SVNA provides the standard Quadrivalent (four strains). The nurses carry a small amount of Thimerosal-Free (preservative free) which they offer to pregnant women as required by WA State regulations. The nurse may accommodate a request by non-pregnant participants for the T-Free vaccine if there are enough doses available at the time of the clinic.  SVNA generally gives the standard Quadrivalent vaccine to all non-pregnant participants unless requested otherwise.  SVNA does not offer the high dose vaccine for those over 65 years old, the egg-free vaccine, flu mist (nasal spray) or pneumonia vaccine.

 What are the payment options?

  1. SVNA can bill directly for nearly all major insurance plans (they will bill your PEBB Uniform or Kaiser plans).  The insurance information will be provided by you on the attached Patient Consent FormSVNA recommends you bring your insurance card to the clinic.
  2. Pay cash/check – If a participant is uninsured or if it’s a plan SVNA does not bill, the participant may pay in cash or by check at the time the vaccination is given.  SVNA does not take debit or credit cards.  The standard Quadrivalent flu shot is $40.

Update your Emergency Contacts

EmergencyThe office of Human Resources and Legal Affairs wants to remind our valued faculty and staff to take time to review and update your emergency contact information! It is extremely important that we have emergency contact information available.

For Full Time Faculty, Exempt Classified and Adjunct employees

You can update your emergency contact information at any time on the Human Resources page on the GatorNet (see link below for the form and instructions).

Go to: Emergency Contact Information Change and Instructions

For Part-Time Hourly employees

Please complete an Emergency Contact Information form (see link below) and either scan and send to hr@greenriver.edu, or drop off in our office located in the Human Resources building south on Mathews Way next to the Student Union building.

Go to: Emergency Contact Information

Supervisors, please encourage your employees to review their current information. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Frontline – June 2018


As we’ve noted before, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers us a wealth of information and opportunities to improve our lives at work and away. One of the great resources they offer is the monthly Frontline newsletter. Check the link below for this month’s informative articles!

Frontline Newsletter

GRC is Drug Free!

From the desk of Marshall Sampson, Vice President of Human Resources and Legal Affairs

Happy New Year and welcome back to those of you who weren’t here during the breakDrug free!  Whether you were here or not, I hope that you saw my very important email regarding the Annual Drug Free Schools & Communities Act Notice for employees of Green River College.  It had all sorts of information which is now available on our website at: https://www.greenriver.edu/campus/human-resources/drug-free-schools-and-communities-act/

As a form of enticement to get our readership up, anyone who correctly responded by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3rd with the correct answers was placed in a drawing with one winner from each employee group (Full-Time Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Classified Staff, and Exempt Staff) winning a $5 Starbucks Gift Card donated by me:

  • By RCW,  it is prohibited to sell or misrepresent a substance as an illicit drug.  Any person who violates the RCW shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a CLASS C FELONY.
  • The possible side effects of narcotics are euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, respiratory depression. There are eight narcotics listed.  The seventh is FENTANYL.
  • The phone number for the Employee Assistance Plan is 877-313-4455.
  • In compliance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-free Schools and Communities Act (As amended in 1989), Green River college has a policy statement which reads in part, “Employees must, as a condition of working on any Green River College contract or grant, abide by the terms of this statement; and notify the employee’s supervisor not later than FIVE (5) days after any conviction for a criminal drug statute violation that occurred in the workplace.”
  • Sending this email is Marshall’s ___________ part of his job.

I will admit that you all had creative answers.  Nobody got the last one correct but there were some great guesses out there.  Also, I appreciate those of you who included bonus points and other creative ways in an attempt to become one of the winners.  It may have worked.  The winners are:

Yvonne Huang – Classified

Krish Mahadevan – Faculty

Leslie Soule – Adjunct Faculty

Adrienne Palmer – Exempt

Shirley Bean – Admin

Please stop by AD-17 to pick up your gift card.

Winter Weather Alerts

It’s that time of the year again when we all hope that mother nature does her magic so we can get a few days “off” to cozy up to a warm fire or spend some time with family. While we work hard with our fingers crossed, please keep in mind the following information when the weather changes.

winter weather

 Severe Inclement Weather – This term signifies extreme/significant weather conditions that may have an impact on travel to or from any campus location. This term will be used on days when weather conditions either significantly worsen as the day progresses or are anticipated to improve as the day progresses.

 Campus open – This term indicates that one (1) or more campus locations are open to the public and that employees should be either at their place of duty or on their way. Specific department hours are set by the department supervisors.

 Late start – The college resumes normal operations at a time later than the usual posted hours of operation.

 Early closure* – The college ends normal operations at a time earlier in the day than the normal posted hours of operation for the college. The only personnel that will be allowed to remain on campus are employees listed as essential personnel.

*This should not be confused with suspended operations as early closure does not necessarily prevent work from being accomplished. Suspended operations has a catastrophic effect on most employees’ ability to perform their duties.

 Campus closed – This term is used to signify that one (1) or more campus locations are closed to the public and that employees should either be departing or already departed from their place of duty. The only personnel that will be allowed on campus are employees listed as essential personnel.

 Suspended Operations – The President or the President’s designee(s) may declare a temporary suspension of any or all College operations at one (1) or more campus locations due to an emergency situation that adversely affects College operations, public health, or the well-being and safety of employees and students.

Events which might require suspending operations include, but are not limited to:

  • Severe weather or natural disaster.
  • Spread of a communicable disease.
  • Fire or related hazard.
  • Immediate threat to the safety of the campus community.
  • Damage to or failure of GRC infrastructure, equipment or mechanical systems.

 First day of total suspended operations – Term used in conjunction with applicable state law and collective bargaining agreements that deals directly with compensation

Essential Personnel – Essential personnel are employees who are required to report to work even when (1) or more campus locations is declared closed because of suspended operations.

Campus location – Each campus will be referred by its location if not all locations are affected. If all locations are affected, notice will refer to all locations as “the college”.

Stress Management at GRC

Posted on behalf of the Environmental Health and Safety Committee. The Environmental Health and Safety Committee evaluates and recommends ways to make our work environment safer for employees and students.

stressWhile stress may not be a physical or visible safety concern, it is still a concern. Everyone deals with some level of stress on a daily basis. Sometimes work pressures can increase an already high stress level. The approaching holiday season can also compound stress levels, making even simple tasks seem overwhelming. If left unchecked, stress can have many effects on our mental and physical well-being. The good news is that there are many resources to help manage stress and daily steps you can take to minimize its effects.

Getting outside for just a few minutes and breathing fresh air can make a big difference in how we handle stressful situations. Just getting up from your desk and walking around anywhere can help. Interacting with co-workers, eating lunch together and having a chance to laugh or smile can boost your mood immediately.

One of the many benefits to working at Green River College is the amazing setting. There are several miles of trails right outside the doors of our buildings. Walking along those trails is a great way to reduce stress levels. On sunny days, you can even walk out and see Mt. Rainier!

If you are feeling stressed please visit some of the following links to get tips on how to cope. There are many other resources not included here, and Green River College also makes counseling services available to both employees and students.





Get Your Flu Shot!

Student Affairs and the Office of Human Resources & Legal Affairs are teaming up to bring you the annual flu immunization clinic by the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association.  The clinic will be held on Thursday, November 9th from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in theFlu Shot Emerald Room in the Student Union.

You don’t need to sign up for your flu shot, just show up with your completed Patient Consent Form on the day of the clinicSVNA also recommends you bring your insurance card to the clinic.  Completion of the Patient Consent Form prior to the clinic helps for a smooth flow and decreased wait time.

SVNA provides the standard Trivalent (three strains) or the Quadrivalent (four strains). The nurses carry a small amount of Thimerosal-Free (preservative free) which they offer to pregnant women as required by WA State regulations. The nurse may accommodate a request by non-pregnant participants for the T-Free vaccine if there are enough doses available at the time of the clinic.  SVNA generally gives the standard Trivalent vaccine to all non-pregnant participants unless requested otherwise.  SVNA does not offer the high dose vaccine for those over 65 years old, the egg-free vaccine, flu mist (nasal spray) or pneumonia vaccine.

Download a Patient Consent Form:  http://www.seattlevna.com/2017_Patient_Consent_Form_8-15-2017.pdf

What are the payment options?

  1. SVNA can bill directly for nearly all major insurance plans (they will be able to bill your PEBB Uniform or Kaiser plans).  The insurance information will be provided by you on the Patient Consent Form.  SVNA recommends you bring your insurance card to the clinic.
  2. Pay cash/check – If a participant is uninsured or if it’s a plan SVNA does not bill, the participant may pay in cash or by check at the time the vaccination is given.  SVNA does not take credit cards.  The standard Trivalent is $30; Quadrivalent is $40 and Thimerosal Free is $35.


If you have questions:  email sgordon@greenriver.edu or jhatleberg@greenriver.edu

Introducing: The Environmental Health and Safety Committee

Welcome to the new school year!  We’d like to introduce the Environmental Health and Safety Committee (EHSC).  The committee meets monthly to review and evaluate campus environmental health and safety issues, work on training, and make recommendations to the college.


Every building on campus has a representative on the committee.  Representatives are elected each Spring Quarter to serve for the following year.

If you have concerns, you can talk to your building representative at any time.  The committee meets the first Monday of every month at 1:00 in the Board Room, and you are always welcome to attend.

Committee Charter


Who do I contact if I see a potential health or safety hazard?

·         If it’s an immediate threat, call Safety at x2250 or x3350.

·         If it’s building- or grounds-related, you can call Facilities at x3333.  Don’t assume Facilities already knows about the situation; please call them if you see an issue.

·         You can talk to your EHSC representative at any time.


Adrienne Palmer x2741 CH
Amanda Clifford x2400 SU
Anicah Anderson x5003 Enumclaw/Kent/Auburn ext.
Connie Jones x2156 SH
Darlene Oathout x2313 RLC
Marvin Viney x2251 Campus Safety
Erin Tyler x4231 SC
Howard Valenzuela x4111 TT
Jennifer Dysart x2094 HL
Jenny Park x2503 SA/PE
Lauren Cline x4217 Health Services Representative
Marshall Sampson x3320 VP of HR and representing administration
Pete (Guadalupe) Morales x3606 CCA
Rob Olson x3386 Facilities
Robin Bowles x4278 PA
Rocco Wheatley x2595 HR
Ronald Riley x4859 SH
Scott Hemingway x3381 FO/WT
Seth Deister x2136 IV
Spunky Robinson x4418 TC
Tammy Shilipetar x2604 AD

Suspended Operations Explained

Over the past couple of weeks, meteorologists and psychics have been predicting blizzards, another ice age, attacks from terrifying monsters and even the end of days!

The last few may have been complete fabrications, but there have indeed been some recent weather scares leading to discussions about suspended operations.

What would this mean and how would this occur?

Regarding inclement weather and campus closure, each Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has its own articles to reference, and all other employees should look to HR – 28, “Suspended Operations – Employee’s Leave Option.” It is certainly important to review the guidelines specific to you, but in the meantime the following summary should serve you well:

Notifications of campus closure (classes canceled, but the College is open for business) or suspended operations (campus closed to students and non-essential personnel*) will be made via the campus switchboard, website, schoolreport.org and our Green River Safety Alert system.

– Outlined in Article 6.4 “Emergency Weather Leave,” of the United Faculty CBA.
– Faculty may take up to 2 days (emergency weather leave) per year, non-accumulative.
– Additional days shall be made up through work agreed upon by the faculty member and their administrator, or through a prorated deduction in annual base pay.

Classified Represented:
– Outlined in Article 5.7 “Suspended Operations,” of the Classified Union CBA.
– After reporting to work, such employees will be compensated for hours worked on the first day of suspended operations.
– Those not required to work may request (and may be granted) a schedule change during the workweek.
– Those who are required to work will receive time and a half for work during the suspended operations.

Classified Non-represented, Exempt and Administrative Employees:
– Those scheduled/required to work, including employees dismissed during their shift, have no loss of pay on the first day.
– For the rest of the closure, such employees have several options:

  • Compensatory time (for overtime eligible)
  • Vacation leave
  • Personal Day
  • Sick leave (up to 3 days may be used)
  • Leave without pay (for overtime eligible)
  • Working remote or schedule changes must be agreed upon with the employee’s supervisor.

– Employees will receive regular pay for work during the suspended operation.

Any further questions? Please contact the Office of Human Resources.

*Essential personnel already know who they are, so if you are thinking, “I’m essential, too!” – of course you are…just not for the purpose of shutting down the campus.

Campus Security Authorities (CSA) Training

Posted on behalf of Kirk Walker, Training Manager

Through the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or simply Clery Act, institutions of higher education that receive federal financial aid (that means us) are tasked with reporting and providing crime and safety information. This keeps students and the rest of the College community informed of dangers on campus.badge

Green River College takes safety awareness very seriously and recently invited Major Steve Rittereiser, Commander of Police at the University of Washington, to come teach our Campus Security Authorities (CSA’s) about a range of Clery Act related topics:

  • Purpose of the Clery Act – What does it mean to Green River?
  • Who are “Campus Security Authorities”? – At institutions of higher education these are officials who have responsibility for student and campus activities, security personnel and individuals/organizations who receive reports of criminal activity.
  • Identification of Campus Security Authorities
    • The Campus Security Authorities at GRC are generally the directors, managers and deans of the College. If you are a CSA, the Office of Human Resources has already informed you.
  • Reportable Geography – What area are we responsible for reporting on?
  • Crime Definitions – What constitutes a crime or security concern on campus?
  • Timely Warning Notices – What is our process for notifying campus of a threat?
  • Daily Crime Log – How do we maintain our records?

Training Green River’s leadership on the Clery Act and campus security ensures that we maintain compliance and, more importantly, that our College and community remains safe and secure.

Have questions about future CSA training? Email Kirk Walker, Training Manager.

Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights

Posted on behalf of Chernenko Wheatley, Employee & Labor Relations Manager

pres-obamaPresident Barack Obama signed the Survivors Bill of Rights Act into law on Friday, October 7, 2016, after it was passed by Congress on Wednesday, October 5, 2016.

Amanda Nguyen, a 24 year old White House Deputy Liaison for the US State Department and survivor of sexual assault, founded the sexual assault survivor advocacy organization Rise and not only helped draft this federal bill and lobbied for it, but also helped draft a similar bill for Massachusetts.

The bill was drafted in support of providing sexual assault survivors with specific rights (specifically those who are survivors of rape) in terms of law enforcement, counseling and how rape kits are handled.

The new legislation means that survivors will have access to sexual assault counselors and more information about their rights and will be able to track when and where their rape kit is tested by law enforcement, if they choose to submit one.

Survivors can no longer be charged fees or prevented from getting a rape-kit examination, even if they have not yet decided to file a police report. The kits must be preserved, at no cost to the survivor, until the applicable statute of limitations runs out. Also, survivors will now be able to request that authorities notify them before destroying their rape kits, and if they choose to keep the evidence, it has to be preserved. Survivors will also have the right to be notified of DNA-profile matches if a hit comes up on the kit, toxicology report, or other information collected as part of a medical forensic examination (if such disclosure would not impede or compromise an ongoing investigation).

Fire Prevention Week

Posted on behalf of Chernenko Wheatley, Employee & Labor Relations Manager 

Fire safety isn’t just for houses and businesses. Colleges and universities should also take fire prevention seriously. Here are some statistics from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):warningfire

  • From January to May 2015, there were 85 fatal fires in residence halls, fraternities and sororities, and off-campus housing, resulting in 118 fatalities.
  • Sprinkler systems were not present in any of the 85 fatal campus fires.
  • Smoking was the leading cause of fatal campus fires, accounting for 29% of them. Other leading causes included cooking, arson, unattended candles, and overloaded extension cords, power strips, and outlets.
  • Alcohol was a factor in 76% of fatal campus fires.
  • In 58% of these fires, the designated smoke alarms were either missing or inoperable, because they were disconnected or their batteries had been removed.
  • 94% of fatal college or university fires occurred off-campus.
  • 70% of the fatal fires occurred Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. 73% of the fatal fires occurred between midnight and 6:00 am.
  • 13% of fatal fires in campus housing occur in April, making it the peak month for campus fire fatalities.

****Samsung on Monday October 11, 2016 advised all customers to stop using the Galaxy Note 7 after it said it had received 92 reports of batteries in the smartphone overheating in the U.S., resulting in 26 instances of burns and 55 of property damage.


Concerning Green River College, each building has a fire alarm system with a systems panel indicating if a smoke detector is not working or if smoke is present. Campus Safety monitors the panels with a direct line to the fire department, and is ultimately responsible for system tests involving alarms and notices. Additionally, Green River’s Facilities Department performs necessary repair work, and conducts panel tests after any maintenance occurs.

The Red Flag System Explained


Situations occur on campus, which may be suspicious or potentially harmful to members of the college community or its property. Often it is unclear whether or not these situations warrant a call to the police.

The Red Flag Information Reporting System exists for these cases.

It allows faculty, staff and students to “send up a red flag” for “anything that is witnessed, observed, or participated in.”

Green River’s Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) will receive the notice, assess the situation and take appropriate action.

Remember, this system does NOT serve as a replacement for emergency notification systems. In a true emergency, please call 9-1-1 from any phone on campus before you submit a red flag.

To submit a red flag, go the main greenriver.edu webpage:

  1. Go to Home » About Us » Campus Safety » Red Flag Information Reporting System
  2. Click on the red flag icon: redflag-icon
  3. Fill in the details of the incident to the best of your ability. The right side of the page contains useful hints regarding the information the system is looking for.
  4. Follow the directions at the bottom in order to provide attachments, information about the parties involved, and your own contact information.
  5. You can also log back in to update a red flag that you previously submitted in the event that the situation has changed.

*Again, this system is NOT a replacement for dialing 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. If you are unsure, feel free to contact campus safety at extension 3350 for further guidance.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Courtesy of US HealthWorks

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


Reduce the Risk!

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a painful and progressive condition of the hand and arm. It causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms as a result of a pinched nerve in the wrist. A number of factors contribute to CTS, which may include anatomy of the wrist, repetitive motion and certain underlying health problems.

If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, you have a greater chance of getting CTS. Fortunately, there are specific hand and wrist exercises that can reduce the risk of being afflicted by this syndrome.


Do these exercises every hour. Exercising, taking breaks and stretching can minimize the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.


  • Finger Push Ups: Firmly press each fingertip to its counterpart on the other hand. Spread fingers as far apart as possible. “Steeple” the fingers by separating your palms while keeping your fingertips together.
  • Hand Bends: Hold one hand in front of you with your elbow straight and fingers extended. Use the other hand to apply pressure to your outstretched hand until the wrist and fingers are pointing down at the floor. Hold that position for 20 seconds.
  • The Shake: Shake your hands vigorously as if you are trying to dry them off. This will help to prevent cramping.

Learn More

Source: 3 Wrist Exercises to Prevent Carpal Tunnel, HealthLine.com

Bridges: Building a Supportive Community

The Elimination of Campus Sexual Violence Act (Campus SaVE Act) — passed as part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 — requires training that covers state law definitions of sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence for faculty and staff.

GRC is using the Bridges Training program (follow the link to access the training as often as you like) to cover this information in detail as well as explain consent and explore its many complexities in sexual assault cases.

This is an ongoing campus wide coordinated effort, and we were proud to see such a strong presence from various departments throughout the training so far. (Over the three days of training, over 150 employees successfully completed the training.)

As a reminder, our Title IX coordinators are:

  • Student related concerns: Vice President of Student Affairs, Deborah Casey
  • Faculty & Staff concerns: Vice President of Human Resources and Legal Affairs, Marshall Sampson

Additionally, the following individuals are our Confidential Counselors and are all located in the Student Affairs and Success Building:

  • Liz Becker
  • Devon Klein
  • Min Lee Booth

Thank you again to everyone who made an effort to attend and complete the training! If you weren’t able to attend, please don’t worry as we will be sending out updates for new time slots in the coming months. Please keep in mind that this is mandatory training as well as an important topic.

Emergency Management

Posted on behalf of Toya Turner.Auburn Emergency Management

ARE YOU READY for the next big disaster?

Auburn Emergency Management provides FREE DISASTER PREPAREDNESS PRESENTATIONS to help you and your loved ones become more prepared without breaking the bank!

Join us at one of our upcoming workshops in January:

  • Wednesday, January 6
    • 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 14
    • 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 23
    • 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Auburn City Hall
Council Chambers
25 W Main St.
Auburn, WA 98001

More information: 253-876-1925 | auburnwa.gov/disaster

Carpal Tunnel Prevention

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel in the Office

Carpal tunnel is caused by repetitive hand or wrist motions and affects the median nerve in the wrist and can lead to numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the hand or arm.  There are many things that you can do that can help prevent carpal tunnel while you are at work or home.  Proper posture and keeping your wrists straight are very important, yet a quick and easy ways to prevent carpal tunnel.  Below are other tips you can use to reduce the risk of carpal tunnel.

  • Your forearms should be level with the keyboard and you should not have to flex in order to type.
  • Hold your hands and wrists at a 90 degree angle with your forearm – If you work at a keyboard, you may have to tilt it to help keep the alignment.
  • Keep elbows close to your side and don’t let your hands, wrists, or elbows rest on any surface while working.
  • Use a pad across the front of the keyboard, this will help cushion and elevate your wrist and reduce the strain that is usually put on them.
  • The way you may be sitting can cause a strain on your wrist – Make sure your chair is adjusted to the correct height
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time – Take breaks every 10 to 15 minutes to stretch and rotate your wrists.
  • If the task only requires the use of one hand for repetitive motion try and switch hands – Using both hands will help reduce the strain you are putting on them.
  • Avoid gripping things (such as a tool or mouse) too tightly – Many people tend to grip pens and other equipment tighter than necessary which can cause the muscles to strain.

Arm and wrist muscle stretches are an easy way to prevent carpel tunnel.  Below are a few easy exercises you can do at your desk to help reduce the risk of carpal tunnel.

  • Extend your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing forward – Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Straighten both wrists and relax your fingers. They should by pointing in front of you but not stiff. Then make a fist with both hands, bend both wrist down so your knuckles are facing the floor – Hold this position for five seconds.
  • Let your arms hang loosely at your side. Shake them for a few seconds – Repeat this ten times.

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel in the Office

Prevent Machinery Related Injuries

Crushed hands and arms, severed fingers, and blindness are just a few of the long horrifying list of possible machinery-related injuries.

Stop Button

Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded to ensure you are protecting yourself while operating machinery.  Accidents usually result from a combination of factors that include both hazardous machine conditions and careless human actions.  Safety procedures like Lockout/Tagout are critical for the service and maintenance of machinery or electrical systems where employees or students could be hurt by the unexpected start up, or energization, of the equipment.

Safety Tips:

  • Recognize the hazards by identifying all actions and hazards associated with each piece of equipment or machinery.
  • Ensure proper use of safeguarding and reinforce the program by training, education and enforcement.
  • Develop an effective Lockout/Tagout program to ensure that machines and circuits are properly shut off or de-energized to prevent unexpected startups.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing and jewelry and keep long hair tied back.
  • Use proper methods of safeguarding.


What a Pain – Elbow Sprains and Strains

Tennise-ElbowRepetitive stress injuries are temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons that are caused by performing the same motion over and over again. Common repetitive motion injuries are carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis or “tennis elbow.”

Epicondylitis or “tennis elbow” typically is caused by using certain tools over and over for long periods of time, often in an awkward position. Injuries of this type are painful and can be debilitating, so it’s important to identify repetitive tasks and take steps to reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries.

Ways to Prevent Elbow Sprains and Strains:

  • Look for a tool that needs less force to use and a handle that fits your hand well.
  • Make sure that the tools you use are in good condition.
  • Keep your wrists as straight as possible when using tools.
  • Use power tools when possible to minimize stress on wrists, hands, and arms.
  • Keep tools in good condition to reduce vibration and the force required to use them.

CERT Training – Day 3 Adventures


Who’s ready to save lives? Me – that’s who.

In our last CERT posts we introduced Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment techniques and put additional skills to the test using live scenarios. We’re back now in our third and final post related to CERT and we mean business. It could be the difference between life and death after all. Our last adventure involves a simulated disaster including real people, abandoned buildings, and even fake blood.


That ladies and gentlemen, on our very own Timm Lovitt, is the look of extreme confidence.

Immediately upon arrival folks began volunteering for predefined roles. We needed to, as quickly as possible, establish who was in charge of the overall operation, who focused on leading the building entry team, who transported and designated survivors to coded triage zones, and who provided basic medical care and support. Chaos as it turns out, is easier to manage if your head is focused on a very specific role.

Before assessing the building, the entry team marked the exterior (a single slash mark) with date and time of entry and task force identification. In the worst possible scenario, the event that something went wrong inside and the team never made it out, others would know who was still inside.


Chernenko saving lives and keeping our survivor calm.

That same team strategically mapped the building and began their initial sweep. They looked for live wires (the potential that electricity was not turned off), fire, hanging and fallen debris, and people still in the building. When encountering survivors or victims they quickly noted whether the individual was red, yellow, or green (triage evaluation to determine if someone is breathing, aware, and/or injured) and then exited the building. Their initial task was not rescue, but focused on rapid assessment. Upon exit they also updated their initial marking with a second slash (to signify exiting), potential hazards, and total numbers of victims still inside the structure.


Yes we did! We came. We saw. We responded.

With initial assessment complete, they paved the way for medical response and transportation of survivors to predefined medical response zones (coded red and yellow tarps outside of the building). Interacting with victims however is the part of response that challenges folks the most. You have a specific role and duties to complete…while trying to calm a mother who wants you to care for her daughter, a coworker who can’t find his colleague, and (fake) blood running down body parts. Deep breath. You can do this.


I am forever changed by CERT. As proof, I welcome the first fire extinguisher to our home.

In the end we successfully responded to this disaster simulation as a cohesive team. We assessed the building, provided simple triage, transported everyone outside, and cared for all survivors that we could (not everyone made it out alive due to their injuries – not my fault).

Through this process and training I also changed. I now take disasters more seriously (by that I mean my prior knowledge was via movies like The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and most recently San Andreas) and am confident in my ability to do more than call 9-1-1 and hope for the best (something we learned may not even be an option in the event of a real disaster). Since the training I’ve also beefed up my home preparedness through the purchase of first aid kits (one for the house and one for the vehicle), extra batteries and flashlights, fire extinguishers, and even emergency water packets. My son now thinks I’m the coolest dad on the block as well (an added bonus).

Interested in more training:

Common Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Misconceptions

PPEPersonal protective equipment (PPE) helps to keep millions of employees safe in the workplace. From goggles to steel-toe boots, PPE plays a vital part in reducing employee exposure to hazards.  Below are common PPE misconceptions:

  • “If my staff won’t wear PPE, I can’t make them”
    • If PPE has been deemed necessary, then it is not optional and employers can require its use.
  • “The more PPE I wear the better”
    • Overprotection and under protection can be equally dangerous, according to the Kimberly-Clark Professional: Exceptional Workplaces website.
      • Overprotection may lead to heat stress caused by wearing too many layers.
      • Under protection may lead to chronic health problems after years of exposure to certain hazardous substances.
      • Find PPE that offers the best protection and that provides the greatest comfort to the wearer.
  • “Gloves are slippery, I can’t get a good grip” or “I can’t wear gloves, I have a latex allergy”
    • Find gloves that have a textured finish on the fingertips, they will make it easier to grasp small and lightweight objects such as test tubes and glassware.
    •  Individuals with a latex allergy can switch to a alternative, such as nitrile, neoprene or vinyl gloves.
  • “This job will only take a minute, I can skip putting on PPE” Or “One piece of PPE is good enough”
    • It only takes a second for an accident to occur. Whether the job only puts you in a hazardous situation for 10 minutes or 10 hours, you still need to have on all required PPE. Exceptions lead to injuries and deaths.PPE
    • You need to wear all PPE that is required for a particular job. If you don’t, it could have serious ramifications, like injury and death. While working with chemicals you may be wearing glasses to protect your eyes, but if you’re not wearing gloves or a proper jacket your hands and body are vulnerable to chemical burns. When deciding what types of PPE are needed for a job, consider all areas of the body, from head to toe and everywhere in between.
  • “Cleaning and storing PPE isn’t that important”
    • After each use, PPE must be properly cleaned and stored according to their instructions. If PPE is damaged it won’t function the way it’s intended which leaves you open to injury and health hazards. Damaged or worn-out PPE should be immediately be replaced.

Building Captains – Upcoming Training


Building captains across campus have an important role. They serve as the go-to person in the event of a campus emergency and help ensure the general safety of people within their respective buildings. If you haven’t already…please hug your building captain.

In a combined effort to strengthen the communication, training, and cross-campus collaboration, Valley Regional Fire District will be providing extensive training on both the 18th and 20th of this month. This training will provide all Green River College Building Captains with foundational knowledge and competencies in:

  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • First aid
  • AED (Automated External Defibrillators)
  • Bloodborne pathogens

Meeting to plan Building Captain training. Also, Steve and Zack match outfits!

In addition to these scheduled training events, future training will follow. Work is also being done to standardize contents of emergency backpacks and create a reference book for all captains. We look forward to establishing an ongoing community amongst building captains and providing meetups on a more frequent basis. Until then, we look forward to seeing and learning from each other at our first training event on the 18th!

Confined Spaces Safety

Confined spaces are either partially or completely enclosed working environments. They are only meant for short term single worker occupancy and are dangerous. Only trained workers who understand the hazards and dangers as well as all safety requirements are allowed to enter these areas.

The workplace safety infographic below identifies the four key characteristics of confined spaces and provides a clear explanation and illustration for safety.

Confined Spaces Safety

Courtesy of Compliance & Safety

Seasonal Safety – Hello Summer! Part 2

Summer Safety TipsTypically we are still anticipating the warm summer days this time of year, but summer has arrived with record breaking force. While some of us are excited for summer’s long days filled with warmth and fun, there can be a not-so-sunny side to hot summer days.  Visits to the emergency room tend to peak during summertime.

Don’t let summertime hazards ruin your summer; from heat-related illness to water safety, from travel to cookouts, Kaiser Permanente has some great safety tips to protect ourselves and our family. They’ve also created this awesome infographic that would be a perfect reminder to post on your fridge.

Enjoy the Summer Sun, But Be Safe!

Seasonal Safety – Hello Summer!

Weather Forecast

Stay Safe! We’ve got a heat wave coming!

As we say goodbye to spring and hello to warm Summer days, we need to be aware of hazards that summer weather can negatively effect your health and well-being.

When working outdoors in the hot summer months, cover up, use sunscreen, and limit exposure to UV rays which are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The sun can be very damaging to your skin if it is left unprotected so make sure to use sunscreen and dress appropriately. Keep all clothing light colors. Darker fabric will attract and absorb the sun.  Wear clothes that breath. Nothing should be too tight, this allows fresh air to flow over your skin and help you stay cool. Sunglasses and hats are great accessories for the summer season. Sunglasses will help to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and hats are great at preventing sunburn and they also help keep your body slightly cooler.

Heat illness can be deadly, always remember: water, rest, shade. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids like water or Gatorade, stay away from sugary soda and energy drinks as they can speed up dehydration. Take breaks and go indoors or into an air-conditioned car. It is important to allow your body a chance to recover from the heat. If you feel dizzy, weak or nauseous take a break immediately. If your symptoms do not go away after getting out of the heat, you should seek medical attention.

Working in an office does not mean you are exempt from summertime hazards.  Flip-flops are notorious for slips, trips, and falls. Open-toed shoes and sandals are also notorious for creating workplace safety hazards.

Be prepared and stay safe during these hot summer months.

Back Basics – Pick Up Tips

Lifting Safety
Proper lifting technique and appropriate planning is critical to back safety and preventing lifting injuries. Before you lift that box, tool or piece of equipment consider the following:

  • Examine the object for sharp corners, slippery spots or other potential hazards.
  • Know your limit and do not try to exceed it.
  • Ask for help if needed.
  • If possible, divide the load to make it lighter.
  • Know where you are going to set the item down and make sure the destination and your path are free of obstructions.

Poor lifting technique can cause both acute injury and serious chronic effects. Learning the right way to lift will help you avoid these problems.

  • Do not attempt to lift by bending forward.
  • Avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object.
  • Never lift a heavy object above shoulder level.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with one foot slightly ahead of the other (think karate stance).
  • Tighten your stomach muscles to keep your back in good lifting position, thereby creating your own internal support.
  • Lift slowly with your legs. Squat down, keep your back straight, and bend at the hips and knees only.
  • Hold and lift the object as close to your body as possible at the level of your belly button. Maintain a firm hold on the object you are lifting.
  • Take short steps.
  • Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.

Consider using mechanical help wherever possible. Oftentimes the item you are moving can be moved with a dolly, hand truck or forklift. If the item needs to be moved manually and it is heavy or awkward in shape, ask for help or make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.

Watch Your Step – Slips, Trips, and Fall Safety

Slips, trips and falls are the most frequent accidents leading to personal injury. They can result in head injuries, back injuries, broken bones, sprained muscles, or cuts and lacerations.

Most slips, trips and fall incidents are preventable by maintaining awareness of your surroundings and paying attention to your walking surface.

  • Watch out for wet or waxed floors.
  • Do not text while walking.
  • Report for repair rugs and carpets that are frayed or are not properly tacked down.
  • Use caution when walking over loose flooring, tiles, bricks, pavement or floorboards.
  • Clean up or report all spills and wet areas immediately. Don’t wait for a small spill or wet area to dry itself.Lost time resulting from slips, trips, and falls
  • Tidy up your area; even a small object on the floor can cause a trip and fall.
  • Keep extension cords out of pathways. Use walkway cord covers if necessary.
  • Report for repair or replacement any stair treads that are cracked or worn.
  • Don’t store materials, boxes, etc. in hallways, aisles or stairs.
  • Carry only what you can handle. Don’t rush and never carry a load you can’t see over.
  • Keep file cabinet and desk drawers closed.
  • Report any stairways and hallways that are not lit well.
  • Never use furniture or boxes as makeshift ladders. Use a sturdy, balanced stepladder or a step stool.
  • Make sure your cuff or hem isn’t so long that you catch a heel while walking.

If you see a safety hazard on campus, please contact ehs@greenriver.edu.

Slips, Trips, Falls, Accidental DeathReport any accidents or incidents – even minor ones. Minor injuries occur in greater numbers than serious injuries and records of these injuries can pinpoint problem areas and prevent someone from experiencing a more serious injury down the line.

Help the EH&S Committee maintain a safe campus.

Watch Your Step – Ladder Safety

Each year, many workers in Washington State are seriously injured from falling off ladders at work. These injuries include dislocated limbs, broken bones and head injuries. In a few cases, workers haven died from their injuries. These accidents occur because:

  • The ladder moves, falls over or is set up improperly.
  • The worker slips on the rungs, overreaches or carries objects while climbing the ladder.
  • The worker stands on the top cap of the ladder.
  • The ladder being used is not in good condition.

Safety First
Prevent mishaps at work or home, by following these ladder safety tips:

  • Carefully inspect the ladder for defects, checking for cracks, corrosion, and that bolts and rivets are secure. Tag and remove unsafe ladders from service.
  • Make sure the ladder’s feet work properly and have slip-resistant pads.
  • Use a fiberglass ladder if there is any chance of contact with electricity.
  • When setting the ladder, look for a safe location with firm, level footing and rigid support for the top of the ladder. Be sure to set it at an angle per the Ladder Rulesmanufacturer’s guidance.
  • When climbing off a ladder at an upper level, make sure the ladder extends three feet above the landing.
  • When climbing the ladder, use three points of contact – keep one hand and both feet or both hands and one foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Never carry any load that could cause you to lose balance.
  • Never stand on top of a ladder.
  • Don’t pull, lean, stretch or make sudden moves on a ladder that could cause it to tip over.
  • Avoid setting the ladder near exit doors, near the path of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

Why Mental Health Matters at Work – What I Learned

The stigma associated with mental illness can be one of the greatest barriers to psychological health and safety in the workplace, especially for employees struggling with stress, depression or anxiety. Mental health is one of leading causes of lost productivity.

The first step in eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness starts with us. By educating ourselves and others it can increase awareness so people feel comfortable seeking help sooner. They will recover faster and maintain productivity which reduces strain on employees and employers.

Mental disorders are like any other medical condition. They are highly treatable and for Fight the stigma associated with mental illnessmany individuals, recovery is possible. Mental health and wellness are essential to overall health.

This message needs to be further emphasized to break those stigma barriers.

As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, we cannot let its mission fade. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness — taking action to help yourself is a sign of strength. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Who should you contact for help?

Be the one to help someone suffering from mental illness

Why Mental Health Matters at Work–Stress in the Workplace

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Main Physiological Reactions to Stress

Approximately more than 25% of Americans would describe themselves as “super-stressed.”  Stress-related issues are continuously rising and can adversely affect how people think, act, and react, which can compromise not only our health and productivity, but also our safety.

Often a healthy work-life balance seems impossible with juggling heavy workloads, managing relationships, family responsibilities, and fitting in social activities. The stressors in our daily life can be hard to turn off and keep us in a constant state of stress.

While some stress is normal, if our bodies stay in a constant state of stress for too long, we can develop or worsen health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and decreased immune system. Too much stress can also lead to substance abuse and serious mental health problems, like depression and anxiety disorders.

If we’re experiencing excessive stress in the workplace it can make the difference between success or failure. Common stress related symptoms include anxiety, frustration, poor judgment, memory lapses and difficulty concentrating or making decisions that can translate into burnout, accidents, injuries and other mishaps on the job. Ignoring safety procedures or not using proper safety gear is just one example of how stress may interfere with our behavior and cause workplace safety problems. Stress in the workplace hurts your productivity and takes a serious toll on your mind and body.

Stress is a costly problem in the workplace
Working and juggling the demands of career and personal life will probably be an ongoing challenge. Finding a healthy work-life balance isn’t a one-shot deal and is a continuous process. It’s extremely important to manage our stress level to keep our mental health in check. Periodically take a look at your priorities and, if necessary, make changes to ensure you’re keeping on track.

Are you stressed?  Take a stress test

Even making small changes in your daily life can greatly help manage every day stress and will help you find that healthy balance between home, work, and social activities which are essential for getting a handle on stress and feeling good about life. Learn how to manage stress better and live life well with these tips:

  1. Connect with others
  2. Stay positive
  3. Get physically active
  4. Help others
  5. Get enough sleep
  6. Create joy and satisfaction
  7. Eat well
  8. Take care of your spirit
  9. Deal better with hard times
  10. Get professional help if you need it
  11. Take the stress out of your commute

If your life feels too chaotic to manage and you’re spinning your wheels worrying about it, it’s time to seek help.  Who should you contact for help?Employee Assistance Program

Why Mental Health Matters at Work – Depression in the Workplace

Depression is often a topic that goes unspoken and it’s time to start talking openly about depression so people can feel empowered to seek help if needed.  Many people suffer in silence, afraid of the stigma associated with depression but depression is like any other treatable medical condition. Risk Factors

Everyone goes through a variety of moods throughout the day. You might be happy one minute and angry about something a few hours later. But depression involves a consistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

Approximately one in ten working-age people will experience depression, that’s millions of people and most don’t even realize they are depressed.  They might think “I’m just in a fog” or “having a bad day.”  If those bad days start accumulating you might be depressed. Other symptoms may include trouble making decisions, lack of interest in activities, slowed thoughts and difficulty concentrating.Depresssion in the workforce

Depression ranks among the top three workplace problems and can take a significant toll on employees and employers.  If an employee isn’t sleeping, feels down and hopeless, has difficulty concentrating and a loss of energy, it can be very difficult for them to perform their job.  The impacts on job performance include decreased productivity, absenteeism, and inability to think clearly and make decisions.  No matter what kind of job, depression can quickly create major problems on the job.

With early recognition job performance at work can improve and symptoms of depression can be alleviated with proper diagnosis and treatment.  Most employees can overcome clinical depression and pick up where they left off, but approximately only one-third of people with diagnosable mental health conditions seek help.

Get the Facts – Recognize the Symptoms

Symptoms & Warning Signs

We all can play a part in helping people get healthy.  People struggling with depression will be less impaired at work if they seek help.  By talking openly about depression, sharing information and solutions we can reduce the stigma associated with mental illness so individuals living with depression feel comfortable reaching out for support.

Often employees fail to seek help until it’s too late.  They are too embarrassed, think they can’t afford it or don’t know where to find resources.  Support and resources are out there – Reach out for help when you need it.

Who should you contact for help? Untreated depression increases health care costs

One Step Closer: Safety Data Sheet (SDS) Recommendations


In my first environmental safety blog post, Crash Course – MSDS 101, I provided an introduction to this wildly exciting topic. The SDS process however, goes beyond any single department on our campus and helps to protect us all. With that in mind we’re now reaching out to other departments.

A Short History Lesson

Safety Data Sheets (SDS), formerly Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), provide comprehensive information about a substance, chemical, or product on campus. SDS help the institution identify, label, store, handle, train, and protect our employees. Collecting and maintaining SDS is a requirement of hazard communication (including hazard determination, Right-to-Know access, labeling, safe handling, personal protective equipment, and more).

Poster-Eye-Protection2Environmental Health and Safety Committee (EHS)

In collaboration with the EHS Committee on our campus, very specific steps were identified to help establish clear and consistent processes across campus. Once we are able to institute these recommendations, online access will be provided for all of campus, network access would exist for backup purposes, and physical binders will be placed within buildings.

Key Recommendations

  1. Obtain and add SDS sheets to specific campus locations using the web-based tool MSDSonline.
  2. Download PDF sheets locally to the EHS networked drive.
  3. Print PDFs and place in physical binders at specific locations on campus.

If you have any questions regarding these recommendations, please feel free to contact your friendly (and awesome) Training Manager (that’s me).

Poster-Eye-ProtectionStay Tuned

This process is still being developed and modified to meet both the needs of the institution and the department. We will continue to work behind the scenes and provide updates as we meet milestones. So far, roughly 450 SDS exist within eBinder.

Fun Fact!

In the creation of this post an entire series of Simpsons workplace safety posters was stumbled upon. They are informative and entertaining if you have a few moments to spare.

Mental Health Awareness & Workplace Safety

Mental Health Stats

Changing the Way We Think About Mental Health

In 2013, President Obama proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness Month and brought the issue of mental health to the forefront.  Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition and work continues in fighting stigmas and providing support and advocacy for those with mental health issues.

Protect your health.  Preserve your mental health.  Prevent bad and sometimes tragic outcomes from ever happening.

The focus of Workplace Safety & Awareness for the month of May will be why Mental Health Awareness Matters at Work.  Employees should be the most valued asset for employers and Mental Health disorders can have a significant cost in the workplace, a loss in productivity and absenteeism.  We spend a lot of time at work and given all the time we spend at work we ought to have a healthy physically and mentally work environment.

Over Spring break the Enumclaw Campus staff and faculty were fortunate to participate in an 8 hour Mental Health First Aid training class that was provided by the Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation as part of a large grant they received to address mental health issues on the plateau.  Check out other opportunities for Mental Health First Aid training! 

Get your facts about Mental Health.
Mental health is one of our greatest assets. It supports focus at work, overcoming obstacles, relationships with the people around you and overall well-being.  We all encounter mental health every day. Whether you are dealing with stress, a divorce, or a natural disaster, it’s important to learn what’s affecting your health.

Read up on common mental health topics.


Screening is an anonymous, free & private way to learn about your mental health.

How to Review or Change your Personal & Emergency Contact Information

Have you moved? New phone number? Do you have an emergency contact on file?

Update your personal & emergency contact information

Update your personal & emergency contact information

If you haven’t reviewed or updated your personal or emergency contact information in a while it’s really easy to review and/or update your information online. Human Resources & Legal Affairs depends on your information being accurate. In the unlikely event you should need medical attention or an emergency occurs on a campus, it is extremely important we know who to contact. So many things happen in our life – cell phone numbers change, addresses change, or personal contacts originally listed are no longer appropriate as the emergency contact. Emergency and personal contact information is kept confidential.

Please take 3 minutes out of your day to review your information to ensure we have your most current information. It’s quick and easy!

  1. Login to the HR Information Center using your SID – If you do not know your SID, click on the “Forgot your Employee ID” link below the field. Your Social Security number will not work. (see instructions below if you receive a “No match found” message)


  • Review your address information in the blue field under “Employee Contact Details”.
  •  You will see three “edit” fields
    1. If your address information is incorrect or any fields are incomplete, click the “Edit” button on “Employee Contact Information” and enter your current contact information. Click “Save Information”
    2. Click the “Edit” button on “Emergency Contact” and enter your current emergency contact information. Click “Save Information”
    3. Click the “Edit” button on “Alternate Contact” and enter your current alternate contact information. Click “Save Information”


That’s it! No more paper forms to fill out & turn in!

Note: If you receive a No match found message, follow the error prompt for further instruction, example:


Download a printable version of the HRIC Instructions

Working Alone Safely

We all have at one time or another had to work alone, and there are some College employees that find themselves working alone more often than others. Those employees might include those working outside normal business hours, such as custodians, campus safety officers, maintenance staff, event or production staff or those working at offsite locations.

Working Safely Alone

Tamar leads her Workforce Education team in a safety discussion

The Environmental, Health and Safety Committee would like you to discuss employees working alone in your areas and ways we can mitigate safety risks.

Safety.  A Shared Responsibility.

Do you have employees who work alone, where only one person is in the office, on the premises, or is at an offsite location?  Add this topic to your staff meeting; taking a moment to discuss it amongst your staff, identify potential hazards of the work, assess risks involved and discuss ways to avoid unsafe situations.

Working Safely Alone

Best safety discussion ever!

Discussion Topics:

  • Are there safety hazards to employees that work alone?
  • Are there training needs for employees who find themselves working alone?
  • How are employees who work alone being supervised?
  • Are there procedures that are needed to ensure employees working alone remain safe?
  • What happens if a person becomes ill, has an accident, or there is an emergency?

As a supervisor, ensure all relevant hazards have been identified, discuss ways to mitigate the risks such as training, supervision, personal protective equipment, and communication devices.  Take appropriate action.  We all share the responsibility to provide a safe and healthy campus.

Remember identifying risks and putting practices in place can be simple changes – awareness is the first step!  Take the Enumclaw Campus as an example.  In Enumclaw after the final class ends between 9-9:30 p.m., the last two employees to leave ALWAYS walk out together.  It was easy to identify a potential problem (a single person in a parking lot late at night) and an easy practice to put in place.

Please share your concerns and fixes with your Environmental Health and Safety Committee representative.

Working Safely Alone

Special thanks to the Workforce Education department for helping us this week.

Identifying Potential Dangers in Your Workspace

Cutting Board on Fridge

Put down that spoon Sheryl and be safe!

Last week we touched a bit on how providing a safe and healthy campus is extremely important and a responsibility we all share.

At the last Environmental, Health and Safety Committee meeting we discussed potential dangers that may be lurking in areas of campus and we need your help to identify those hazards.

Safety.  A Shared Responsibility.

Take a moment to walk around your workspace – Are their potential dangers?

Storage/Filing Hazards

  • Overloading shelves
  • Storing heavy items at high levels
  • Reaching overhead
Better Location

Here’s a much better spot for this.

Corrective Actions

  • Large or heavy items should be stored at waist level
  • Frequently handled items should be placed within easy reach. .
  • Smaller, lightweight and infrequently handled items may be stored in the lower or higher areas of a storage system.
  • It should be easy to place items into the storage unit and take them out.
  • Do not climb shelves
  • Always use a step stool or ladder to reach items from higher shelves
  • Do not overload shelves

Is your department guilty of potential dangers on high shelves (heavy items or chemicals) that should be relocated to lower shelves? 


Enumclaw branch is (was) guilty too!

Human Resources is guilty.  Enumclaw Campus isn’t afraid to admit guilt either.  Both hazards identified and corrected in less than 5 minutes. 

Talk to your departments, if we all take 5-10 minutes out of our day to take a look around our workspace and identify any potential hazards that may need corrective action the safer our campus will be.

Safety. A Shared Responsibility.

Providing a safe and healthy campus is extremely important and a responsibility we all share. By simply taking an extra moment to check our surroundings we can easily avoid the most common workplace hazards (which happens to be falling of all things).

Safety. A Shared Responsibility.

  • Know your surrounding hazards (stairs, ladders, cords, etc.)
  • Follow safety and health rules
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Report accidents, injuries, unsafe equipment, and hazards

Have a Suggestion?

We’d love to hear back from any employee with suggestions on how to make workplace safety a more engaging process.  Because safety is a shared responsibility, our goal is to promote a safe working environment through collaboration with each and every employee. Ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. We’d even love to hear your thoughts on how this blog works as a form of communication.

The infographic below displays common workplace hazards, violations and safety tips.

Workplace Safety

Texting while Walking Causes More Accidents than Texting and Driving

Texting and Walking

(KAPOW!) Greg! Why can’t you watch where I’m going, I’m obviously very busy texting!

Injuries from car accidents involving texting and driving are often more serious, however injuries from texting and walking occur more often and are putting thousands in the ER each year.

Texting and Walking

(WHAM!) Erik! Watch out! You’ve just interrupted my very important text!

Just some of the many accidents that can occur if you text and walk include tripping, bumping into objects like walls, people, light posts, etc., falling down stairs or stepping into traffic.

Pay Attention! Whether You’re Walking or Driving, it’s Time to Put Down the Phone!

Sleep Deprivation and Workplace Safety

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can affect your health, productivity and can create serious hazards in the workplace.  Studies show sleep deprived employees are at a higher risk and more likely to have accidents and suffer injuries.   Sleep is essential for to keep our bodies functioning and disrupted sleep has numerous negative consequences, including increased mortality, diabetes, obesity, burnout, and poor performance.

According to a National Sleep Foundation’s 2015 Sleep and Pain poll, almost a third of American employees report that daytime sleepiness interferes with their daily activities at least a few days each month.  Americans are working more, spending an average of nearly 4.5 hours each week doing additional work from home on top of a 9.5 hour average workday. Those who work long hours and/or get less than 8 hours of sleep are reporting lower productivity, thought processes or memory and difficulty concentrating.

Article: Tired But Can’t Fall Asleep? Good Sleep Hygiene Helps
Infographic: Why Good Sleep Health Matters in the Workplace

Coffee Break & Emergency Preparedness Training

What better way to get an update on campus emergency preparedness, then to share a cup of coffee with Timm Lovitt, Interim Dean of Student Success and Retention. A side note is that Timm is openly willing to exchange a cup of coffee for future favors down the road. While I may have just committed to something I can’t even imagine yet…it sure was a great cup of coffee.

Coffee Stand

The best coffee stand on campus!

What brought Timm and I together, besides love of coffee of course, was a training initiative he is leading the charge on. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training is something that has never existed on our campus. Timm is very optimistic and eager to establish the “best CERT program there is.” He’s researched CERT at local and national levels, made recommendations to the campus Emergency Operations Committee (EOC), and initiated contact with the City of Auburn’s CERT program. The desired outcome will be our own CERT program, working with and supporting the campus EOC. Because these volunteers will be trained in many different avenues related to emergency response, the campus as a whole would be better prepared in dealing with emergent situations.

Coffee Break

Timm in deep thought as I ask CERT-related questions.

After Timm explained all that he was doing related to CERT, he also mentioned (so quickly in fact that I almost missed it) that he was the Director of Veteran Services as well as the Interim Dean of Student Success. Because I’m so new to Green River and this was my first time meeting Timm, I had now idea about his military background. As it turns out he spent five years in the Army (Go Army!) and says it helped him prepare to react to stressful situations and lead others to succeed. I then jokingly asked if working at Green River classified as a stressful situation…but Timm didn’t laugh.  ;)

Veterans Services

I even got a tour of the Veterans Services Office and met a vet who was in the process of transferring to a University.

Below is the actual message Timm created to collaborate and communicate awareness of upcoming CERT training. Stay tuned for more great CERT-related updates through our official college channels.

Over the past couple of months we’ve received a lot of inquiries from students, staff, and faculty about wanting to get involved in the college’s disaster response plan. Many individuals have expressed an interest in helping the campus remain resilient, especially during times of critical need. We have been overwhelmed by the sense of community and volunteerism and admire everyone who has stepped forward to ask “what can I do to help?” In response to your requests, here is one way that you might be able to be involved:

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is looking to build a pool of certified disaster preparedness volunteers. These volunteers may serve in various roles and capacities, when professional responders are not immediately available, and will regularly interact with a designated college point-of-contact (Timm Lovitt, Interim Dean of Student Success and Retention). Some of the roles could include fire safety, light search and rescue, and/or team organization.

If you are interested in volunteering we encourage you to seek out an official training program. One program that is local is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERT is a federal program that educates people about disaster preparedness. The program includes instruction on basic disaster response, fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Participants will receive a certification at the end of their course.

The City of Auburn’s Emergency Management Office offers several CERT courses each year. These classes are free of charge, but do require prior registration (space is limited). To register for this program please visit the City of Auburn’s Emergency Management Training webpage.

2015 CERT Offerings:

  • March 2nd to 25th (9:00 am to Noon every Monday and Wednesday)
  • April 2nd to May 9th (6:30 to 9:30 pm every Thursday)
  • August 18th to 20th (8:00 am to 5:00 pm, three full days)
  • October 6th to November 14th (6:30 to 9:30 pm every Tuesday)

Thank you for your time and interest!

Timm Lovitt,
Interim Dean of Student Success and Retention

Everyday Ergonomics

We’re on a roll with another ergonomics post! Did you know 34% of workplace injuries are caused by bad ergonomics and that back strain accounts for 30% of all workplace injuries? Good ergonomics on the other hand can increase worker productivity by 11%! Since the average person sits for at least 9 hours per day, just a small change can have major benefits.

The infographic below promotes health and focus at home, on the road, and in the office. See, Green River cares about you wherever you are.

Everyday ErgonomicsImage source: Best Choice Reviews

Give Yourself an Ergonomics Makeover

Ergonomic techniques aim to assist in creating a more comfortable, safe and productive workspace.  Many workplace injuries can be avoided and prevention is essential to avoiding these injuries. Click on the image below for an overview of office ergonomics.


Your workstation layout and chair alignment can make a huge difference in your comfort and productivity.  Follow this interactive office ergonomics tutorial to learn how to properly adjust:

  • Chair Adjustment
  • Workstation Layout
  • Keyboard & Mouse Placement
  • Monitor & Document Placement
  • Laptop Computing

By learning how to properly set up your workstation you’ve effectively given your office an ergonomics makeover.  As a reminder, regardless of how perfectly ergonomic your workstation is, working in the same position or sitting still for long periods of time is not healthy. You should change your working position frequently throughout the day by taking a break, standing up, or taking a walk and stretching your arms, hands and fingers.

To Take a Sick Day…or Not to Take a Sick Day

The following is a quick recap of my adventures in believing I could handle it all…while being sick.


Yes, it is possible to go through an entire bottle of DayQuil in a few days.

My son had just finished being taken to urgent care for an asthma and coughing related concern. Through the span of about a week he had gone through sniffling, sneezing, coughing, achy head, losing his voice, and difficulty breathing. As if that weren’t enough, my wife shared some of the same symptoms. Pretty soon these symptoms came my way and…I ignored them.

Sick Son

This little guy is patient zero.

Looking back, I’m not sure why I ignored them though. Perhaps I simply wasn’t in the right frame of mind to begin to even recognize them in myself. Perhaps I was focused on taking care of others who had been sick at home. Perhaps I was preoccupied by all that needed to be done in the office and didn’t have time to be distracted by something as trivial as being sick.

Back in the day, I grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington (in case you haven’t seen my childhood photograph on our staff page), there was no such thing a sick day. Things simply needed to get done. I guess I’m equal parts stubborn,  motivated to contribute to the whole, and driven to deliver on what is expected, not matter what.


While medicine is important…so is a 2-for-1 special on candy.

And then it hit me. Not only did I get sick but I didn’t get better over the course of a week-and-a-half. I was coughing uncontrollably, my throat hurt, and I must have bought five boxes of Kleenex (for the bedroom, the living room, the car, the office, etc.). On top of all of that, I lost my voice. Thinking of only myself, I could have chugged right along. However, it was the looks around the office that got me thinking. It was sitting in meetings and watching others inch slowly away from my chair. It was coughing more than a few times during my first presentation to the Board of Trustees.


Just me in the doctor’s office. I actually asked but the doctor didn’t want to take a selfie with me.

Perhaps not in the right order, I completed all necessary things in the office, scheduled a doctor’s appointment, and took a sick day. As it turns out I wasn’t dying (although I felt like it) and was given a 10-day supply of antibiotics. In the end I believe I took 2.5 days of sick leave and felt sick around 7 days in total. The moral of this story is that everyone has their own work ethic. Everyone must also answer to a supervisor who sets expectations for what must be completed in any given week. Luckily for me, my supervisor was completely supportive of the time I felt necessary to be out of the office, simply asking if there was anything that needed to be picked up by other staff members while I was out.

At the Doctor's Office

Only 358 people ahead of me…

If you find yourself in the same predicament as I did, I would suggest touching base with your supervisor to quickly discuss how you are feeling, the workload that should be adjusted while you are out, and finally determining if professional help (seeing a doctor) might be a next step. Your coworkers will also thank you for not spreading additional germs in the office environment.


A 10-day supply of antibiotics. Now I just need to wake up every 4 hours.

Workplace Flu Prevention

Flu Prevention

Annually, the flu impacts workers in $16.3 billion in lost wages and $10.4 billion in medical bills, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Foundation. Approximately 60% of reported flu hospitalizations are adults 18 to 64 (the average age range of workers).

What can employees do to avoid spreading germs?

  • Get vaccinated each year.
  • Encourage others to get vaccinated.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home from work when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Want to learn more? 

Be sure to visit the CDC’s Flu Prevention Infographic for complete details on prevention, business challenges, business benefits, and action steps you can take now.

Take Action

What a Pain – Knee Sprains and Strains

Knee Pain and Strain

Bending, kneeling and squatting are all postures that are hard on the knees. Overuse injuries, those that develop over time as a result of repeated actions or wear and tear, are common and workers need to be aware of the risk and take steps to protect the knees. If possible, raise work up off the floor to eliminate kneeling and squatting or use a rolling stool instead of crawling. Wearing knee pads protect and distribute pressure across a broader portion of the knee and are extremely important when working on hard or cold surfaces or where there may be sharp items or edges.

Tips to Avoid Strain:

  1. To protect your knees from injury, wear knee pads.
  2. Use tool extensions for high and low work.
  3. Use power tools to make repetitive tasks easier and faster.
  4. Change posture as frequently as your work allows.
  5. If possible, sit on a low stool instead of kneeling or squatting.
  6. Take frequent breaks when possible.

What a Pain – Hand and Wrist Strains

Hand and Wrist Pain

Many of us use a computer and mouse every day and often for the majority of the work day. Sprains and strains to the wrists and hands from computer and mouse usage are common and develop over a long period of time.  Making easy and simple adjustments when symptoms first appear can prevent future problems.

How to Control Repetitive Hand and Wrist Tasks (L&I presentation)

Tips to Avoid Strain:

  1. Use a self-assessment tool as a guide to adjust your workstation
  2. Request an assessment to ensure that your workstation setup fits you well
  3. Hold hands in a “neutral position,” with his wrists relaxed and straight while working not bent up, down or to the side
  4. Change your position and make posture adjustments frequently by adjusting your chair or using a sit/stand desk
  5. Get moving, walk and stretch periodically throughout your day
  6. Use both of your hands equally at the computer – if you tend to do a lot with your right hand, consider moving the mouse over to the left of the keyboard
  7. Take a break, get up and move around – set reminders to take breaks if you need to

What a Pain – Lower Back and Shoulder Strains

Shoulder Pain

Low back or shoulder strains are the most common causes of workplace injuries. Lifting is the most frequent cause of these injuries, especially when the lifting is heavy, frequently repeated or is done in an awkward position (twisting, reaching up or bending down).

Tips to Avoid Strain:

  1. Think twice, lift once. Think about lifting the object then lift it with your body.
  2. Use a lifting device whenever possible.
  3. Push if you can, don’t pull. It’s safer as it allows you to use your body weight more effectively
  4. When pushing keep the load light enough that it doesn’t take too much force to move and low enough that you can see over it. Push with your whole body, not just your arms.
  5. Carry items close to your body and make sure you can see where you are going.

Lab Techs School Toya

Safety No-No 1

Remember to wear your goggles correctly and button your smock!

Always be cautious when working around chemicals as there are dangers that could exist, and following chemical safety tips and rules, makes using chemicals much safer. It is also important to always remember to be cautious when you are working with chemicals and products containing them.

Remember to wear gloves, goggles, and practice safe protocols while conducting experiments.

Remember to wear gloves, goggles, and practice safe protocols while conducting experiments.

Corrosive chemicals have a variety of uses, including making new chemicals and products. However, they can cause chemical burns to the eyes and skin, with a possibility of disfigurement, blindness and even death.

No one should be eating around chemicals...Toya!

No one should be eating around chemicals…Toya!

Workers that use chemicals in their jobs must use the proper personal protective equipment like, a protective smock, eye protection and chemical-resistant gloves to protect themselves from a chemical splash when pouring from or filling containers and when transporting chemicals.

Finally, Toya follows safe lab practices.

Finally, Toya follows safe lab practices.


  1. Minimize activities with open containers, and establish safe work practices to prevent splashes or release of chemicals.
  2. Make sure the emergency eyewash and shower is immediately accessible and can be activated in one second or less.
  3. Secure lids prior to transporting chemicals.
  4. Assess all Personal Protective Equipment to ensure proper selection and use for the type of job.
  5. Use chemical-splash goggles and a face shield instead of safety glasses.
Special thanks to Jacqueline Baltunis and Chi Tran for demonstrating proper lab safety techniques.

Special thanks to Jacqueline Baltunis and Chi Tran for demonstrating proper lab safety techniques.

Coming to a Wall Near You!

First stop, Enumclaw Campus! Krispy Kremes and posters in hand!

Why is HR putting up new, 2015 labor law posters across main and branch campuses? Employers in the United States are required to display the most current federal and state labor laws. Workplace posters are important because they inform workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities. These posters include the current minimum wage, Job Safety and Health Law, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), Uniformed Services Employment Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and more. If you have questions regarding these laws, please contact Employee and Labor Relations Managers, Barbara Iribarren and Chernenko Wheatley.

Betsy Williams and Beckie Jensen, our first recipients of the 2015 labor posters!

Betsy Williams and Beckie Jensen, our first recipients of the 2015 labor posters!

Links to each poster are listed below and will be coming soon to the GatorNet.

It's official! Enumclaw is ready for 2015!

It’s official! Enumclaw is ready for 2015!