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).

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!

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.

https://www.greenriver.edu/campus/campus-resources/counseling-services/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/coping-with-stress/art-20048369

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/work-stress.aspx

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-in-the-workplace.htm

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.

caution-wet-floor

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

Minutes

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!

godzilla1
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.

Faculty:
– 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.

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.

CTS

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.

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.

Poster-Eye-Protection2

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

MentalHealthAwareness1

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

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? 

Storage-Enumclaw

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.

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

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.

Tips

  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!