February 2002

EDITORIAL: Lab Security

In light of 9-11, and the renewed awareness of security issues everywhere, on Colleges and University Campusís laboratory security must of necessity become an extremely high priority. That said, it is prudent to define just what lab security means. There are many approaches to the security of laboratories, but probably none more important than that of individual awareness. It is extremely important that those who work in labs and even those who work in the same building(s) that house labs are aware of who is in the building, much less who is in the lab. I recently received comments from two contractor personnel who were new to the campus that in walking through buildings they were almost never challenged by employees to determine who they were or what business they had in the building. Most of the buildings that these people were in contained laboratories.

Since 9-11, Colleges and Universities have come under appreciable criticism from the media for numerous reasons which include lack of security measures regarding chemicals and hazardous materials.

So-----if you work in or are responsible for a laboratory, what can you do to enhance security of the facility, enhance the security of the chemicals, enhance the security of the research, and of course to protect yourself.

    * You can start by challenging people that are in the area that are unknown to you. It can be done in a friendly yet positive manner.
    * You can keep the door closed. An open door is an invitation for the curious to just walk in.
    * You can insure that the door is locked when there is no one in the lab.
    * You can alert Public Safety if you observe suspicious, unknown individuals in your buildings.
    * You can insure that there is an accurate inventory of chemicals on hand.
    * You can insure that all laboratory equipment is identified and labeled.

DEA Drugs: Proper Disposal

Many universities use substances that are considered "controlled substances" by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).  These substances vary in nature, but their use must be monitored and special precautions taken to ensure compliance with DEA regulations.

The rules for the use, storage and disposal of DEA controlled substances can be found in 21CFR 1300.   State specific regulations also apply.  There are five classes of controlled substances (classes I-V).  They are classified by their abuse and addictive potential.  Class I substances are controlled the most and cover such materials as cocaine, morphine, and marijuana.  Class II and III compounds are items such as pentobarbital and opiates.  Class IV and V compounds are chemicals such as sodium barbital and testosterone.  Different classes require different storage methods.  For class I, II, and III a small safe or locked box will suffice.  However, the storage device must comply with certain construction requirements.  The chemicals in the storage device must be inventoried and all changes in quantity must be documented.  Class IV and V must be stored in areas with controlled access and quantities stored and distributed must be documented.

No person or institution may purchase or acquire controlled substances without first obtaining DEA registration.  This is in addition to any state required licenses.

There is one final requirement under the DEA regulations-disposal.  These chemicals cannot be treated like the standard chemical waste stream.  They must be transferred to a licensed person or entity (in NE this is the "State Pharmacist") for disposal in what is commonly known as a "watched burn".  A "watched burn" is a difficult process for the owner of the materials.  These items with their corresponding paper work must be sent to the facility permitted to receive the class of compound.  The licensed owner must then go to the facility and witness the material being destroyed with the State Pharmacist or appropriate DEA official.  Documentation  from this procedure must be kept on file until the permit is terminated.

~ adapted from "Triumvirate Environmental-Campus Compliance Review"
Issue 6, June 2001

Dates to Remember 2002

April is Youth Sports Safety Month

  • April 1-7:  National Public Health Week
  • April 15-19:  Severe Weather Awareness Week
  • April 22-26:  National Playground Safety Week
  • May 5-12:  National SAFE KIDS Week
  • May 18-24:  National Safe Boating Week
  • May 19-25:  National "Buckle Up America" Week

June is National Safety Month.


Youth Sport Injury Prevention

  • Children should wear all required safety gear in games AND practices.
  • Ensure all equipment fits properly.
  • Make stretching and warming up before playing routine.
  • Teach children not to play through pain.
  • Have children drink plenty of liquids.
  • Make sure first aid is available at all games AND practices.
  • Watch to see that all rules of the game are enforced and coaches and referees encourage safe play.

Safe Kids Chronicle Spring 2002 Volume 3, Issue 1 

Local Emergency Planning Committee

LEPC is an acronym for "Local Emergency Planning Committee.  But what is it?  In 1986, Congress passed the "Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act" (SARA) which established a national baseline with regard to planning, response, management and training for hazardous materials emergencies.  SARA mandated the establishment of both state and local planning groups to develop and review hazardous materials response plans.

The state planning groups are referred to as State Emergency Response Commissions (SERC) and are responsible for developing and maintaining the states emergency response plan.

The LEPC is responsible for developing an emergency plan to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies within the community.  It is the main function of the LEPC to look after community interests in regard to hazardous incidents that may occur there.  The LEPC is the coordinating point for both planning and training activities at the local level.

Membership  of the committee consists of but is not limited to:  Elected Officials, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Fire departments, First Aid, Health, Environmental and Transportation agencies, Hospitals, Broadcast and Print Media, Community groups and representatives of facilities subject to emergency planning and community right-to-know requirements.

The Creighton University representative to the Omaha LEPC is Bill Worthing, more commonly known as "Fireman Bill".  He is the Fire Safety Specialist with the Environmental Health and Safety Department.  If you have any specific questions regarding the LEPC, contact Bill at 546-6263 /  510-5881, or by e-mail at firemanbill@creighton.edu.

The aftermath of 9-11 increases the need for organizations such as the LEPC, and even more so the need to be prepared for what ever type of emergency may arise in the community.  The higher level of awareness, the higher the level of preparedness.  You will be hearing more about the LEPC in the future.

Bill Worthing
"Fireman Bill"

Tenured Chemistry Professor Fired

~From the Feb. 15th, 2002 edition of the San Antonio Express-News:

A tenured chemistry professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio was fired Thursday on charges that he had threatened the safety of colleagues and students by improperly storing corrosive chemicals in his laboratory and keeping too many books in his office.

The university's Board of Regents voted, 8 to 0 with one abstention, to terminate Philip L. Stotter, rejecting a unanimous finding in January by a university hearing panel that there was not good cause to fire him. The decision ends the professor's 35-year affiliation with the university, 28 years of which he spent on the San Antonio campus.  In 2000, an alumnus established the Philip L. Stotter Award in Organic Chemistry to honor his former professor.

University officials, saying they do not discuss personnel matters, would not comment on the case other than to confirm Mr. Stotter's termination.  A federal lawsuit that Mr. Stotter filed against the university in 2001 is pending.  The suit alleges that the university violated Mr. Stotter's constitutional right to due process when it hired a hazardous-material contractor to clean up his lab last February.

"They entered my lab and stripped it of more than 35 years of fine chemicals and synthetic samples," said the professor, who specializes in developing new reagents and synthetic procedures.  He would not say whether the suit would be amended to include claims based on his firing, and he referred further questions to his lawyer.  She could not be reached for comment.  According to an Associated Press report, university officials in the past two years had repeatedly urged Mr. Stotter to clean up his office, which they said posed an extreme fire hazard because he was storing about 100 boxes of books in it.  He removed about 40 of the boxes, but his lab was closed in January 2001 for containing too many corrosive chemicals unsafely stored.

OSHA Training Update

    *  Did you know that OSHA requires Bloodborne Pathogen training to be updated annually?
    * Do you drive a Creighton vehicle or your own vehicle for Creighton business?  If so, have you had Vehicle Safety Training?
    * Have you attended Laboratory Safety in the past year?  If not, watch for the annual training dates to be announced soon.
    * How current are you for Hazardous Communication (HAZCOM) training?

For information or to schedule any of these or other training sessions, call the Environmental Health & Safety Department at 546-6400.

News from the Consumer Product Safety Commission...

The next time that you buy certain common household products and cosmetics, you may notice that they are now in child-resistant packages.  In October 2001, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously to require child-resistant packaging for some common household products and cosmetics.  Examples of these products are:  baby oil, sunscreens, hair oils, body and massage oils, makeup removers, some water repellents containing mineral spirits and general use household oil.  If the products contain 10 percent or more hydrocarbons by weight and have a low viscosity (are "watery") they fall in this category.  This safety standard stems from the deaths of at least five children since 1993 that were caused by drinking and aspirating these products,  three from baby oil.  Between 1997 and 1999, approximately 6,400 children were treated in emergency rooms after swallowing these kinds of chemicals.  Once these products get in the lungs, there is no medical process to remove the oily substance and death can result.  Remember to always keep the original child-proof/child-resistant caps on products, they are there for a reason and something that seems relatively harmless can be deadly to a small child.



The American Association of Poison Control Centers has established a single number for people to use to reach their local poison control center. The new number (800)222-1222. When people call, a computer checks their area code and first three didgits of the phone number and connects the caller to their nearest poison control center. For more information, visit www.aapcc.org.

From: Safety and Health, March 2002


As you walk the hallways of Creighton University buildings, have you ever got the impression that we must not have any storage space on this campus?  Why is it that in most every C.U. building, you see furniture, i.e. tables, desks, computers, etc...from offices or classrooms stored in the hallway or corridors?  This is major item of concern for individuals in the safety business.  Many Life Safety Codes have been written on this exact topic.  These Life Safety codes are to protect you and I, the Creighton community from creating a dangerous escape plan when a fire or other emergency situation calls for us to get out of a building.

Life Safety Code states:  Means of egress shall be continuously maintained free of all obstructions or impediments to full instant use in the case of fire or other emergency.

Life Safety Code states:  No furnishings, decorations or other objects shall obstruct exits, access thereto, egress therefrom, or visibility thereof.

The storing of furniture from labs, classrooms, or offices should not even entertain the thought as a temporary fix, or the thought that the hallway is wide enough that the hallway is wide enough that it won't get in anyone's way.

Imagine, that a fire started in your work space or building.  Blind fold yourself and if possible crawl on the floor to leave your office space trying to escape the toxic smoke from the fire.  Escaping your building has now just become ten times harder and longer.  Now imagine yourself in a wheelchair, or crutches and someone's lab table is blocking your nearest fire escape route.  Life as you knew it, has just become real scary, then add panic and difficulty breathing to the situation..., we now have a real serious problem.  What we sometimes forget to think about is that with all the fire safety or fire prevention training we have received through out the years, it has been directed towards able-bodied persons in mind.  We forget that there is growing community of mobility impaired, which work in or visit our facilities daily.

People with physical disabilities rely on a variety of artificial means for mobility.  Such devices range from canes and walkers to motorized wheelchairs.  Approximately 1.8 million people in the United States use a wheelchair, and 5.2 million people have used a cane, crutches, or a walker for longer than 6 months.  People with mobility impairments are faced with many challenges in life.  Personal safety, especially fire safety, is one challenge that many perceive as an obstacle.  It does not have to be this way.  By being aware of one's own special capabilities and following fire-safety practices tailored to certain needs, the mobility-impaired person can lead a fire safe life.

Mainstream fire safety education and fire protection devices are designed primarily with the able-bodied person in mind.  Thus a scarcity of fire safety knowledge exists with both the mobility-impaired community and the fire service.   Both groups must work to educate each other to decrease fire-related losses and injuries.

Here at Creighton University, we need  to always keep in mind that not everyone has equal capabilities.  Keeping the hallways and corridors clear of furniture is essential to a pro-active fire safe campus, and keeping everyone's best interest in mind (their personal safety).

Bill Worthing
"Fireman Bill"

Why Safety Training?

Even though the reason(s) ought to be obvious and even based on common sense, the obvious is not the same for all people, and common sense is not necessarily common.

Training of any type or kind should be to provide a learning process that enables the individual being trained to do something correctly. This should include safety training, but does that happen routinely? It does with some people, but it is my experience that retention of safety training is not overly long.

So, why safety training!? How about for starters: it is the law! In accordance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, safety training is mandated for all new employees. Annual follow on training is required for some individual occupations and some follow on training is required even more often.

There are numerous reasons other than just the law which include: lower insurance rates, reduced worker compensation rates, increased moral (no one wants to work in an unsafe work environment), increased efficiency, reduced down time, and in all probability, higher productivity. Safety training should always be a priority for supervisors, but it is often overlooked, particularly when a new employee is hired. Supervisors should insure that new employees receive new employee orientation as soon as possible after start of the job.

At minimum, all employees are required to have training in Hazard Communications (HAZCOM), more commonly called "Employee Right to Know", and

Emergency Procedures. Employees who will be exposed to human blood are required to have Bloodborne Pathogens training before they begin work, and have an annual refresher training course thereafter. Maintenance workers are required to have training in Lock Out/Tag Out procedures, Electrical Safety, Confined Space Programs, Ladder Safety and Asbestos awareness. Specialized training is required for those individuals who operate forktrucks (folklifts).

It is easy for safety training to be overlooked by both supervisors and subordinate employees, but it is just as easy for OSHA inspectors to review personnel records and find that mandated training has not been accomplished.

Environmental Health and Safety, at Tel. 546-6400, will train or see that training is accomplished on an as needed basis. For training information and availability see the EH& S website http://www.creighton.edu/EHS/.