Safety has a new home!

This week, the campus changed…just a little bit. Our Safety officers and their office have relocated to the Student Affairs Building in SA 156A! As we’re all getting used to this new reality, we encourage you to take a moment to stop in at Safety and say “hello”!

Safety Office 1

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 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.


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.


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!

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!

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

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!

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

Crash Course – MSDS 101

Meeting with Terry

I’m about to give Terry an surprise inspection! Not really. We have an appointment.

This blog post contains everything you ever wanted to know about MSDS, but were afraid to ask. Actually, this is my first introduction to MSDS and I couldn’t have asked for a better collaborator and instructor than Terry Stanford, our very own Capital Projects Documentation Manager.

MSDS with Terry

Terry wrote the books on MSDS. Not really, but he does oversee all of the Facilities MSDS books.

First things first. MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheets and you can find out all about the history here, thanks to our friends at Wikipedia. The short version is that MSDS provides workers with safety information in working with chemicals on our campus. It’s part of a requirement (it’s the law folks), from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), that all employees have access to emergency data.

MSDS Sheets

Terry oversees all of the physical MSDS books within facilities and is currently making huge efforts moves to put that information online, available for all employees, through MSDSonline. In fact, he’s recently added over 300 of these documents (via MSDSonline searches and by scanning local copies) specifically for his department. By his estimates that only covers about 35% of the chemicals and products contained within facilities and he’s working hard to see that percentage rise.

Lots of MSDS sheets to go!

Just some of the many, many products that must be accounted for within MSDS.

Eventually, all of the documents and procedures within the facilities MSDS books, as well as products not yet in the system, will be contained in the online tool. Getting to that point will provide unlimited access for all employees, ensure transparency across departments, and allow consolidated reporting if we are ever audited.

This is just the beginning though. As Terry works to get me up to speed on best practices within his own department and as I learn the capabilities of the online system, we hope to work with other departments to utilize this same tool.