November 2001

EDITORIAL: Is the ergonomics issue dead?

The answer to this question is quite simply NO!  Administrations and political appointees such as the Secretary of Labor come and go, but the civil servants who wear OSHA hats remain.  After all is said, these are the folks who are in the trenches and they are the ones who will decide the long run outcome.  Is this a fallacy of the system?  I don't know, and I would guess that only time will tell.

This I do know, even though President Bush and Congress over rode the Ergonomics Standard listed as 29 CFR 1910.900 and it is history, the OSHA General Duty Clause is still very much alive and kicking.  It is under the General Duty Clause that OSHA is capable of citing and penalizing organizations, businesses, and o'yes...academic institutions.  As long as the OSHA inspector feels that the employer has not provided a safe work place for employees and that the workplace is free of recognized hazards, you/we can be cited.  This clause is very commonly used, and in fact may quite possibly be used more often than any other OSHA citation.

Therefore, ergonomic reviews will continue at Creighton University.  They will be accomplished by request on the phone, by e-mail, or may be based upon management directive.  It is, however, just a question of time before there is an ergonomic standard on the books that is probably a bit more employer friendly than the one thrown out this year.



Itís not unusual to see companies advertise that a product is FDA or OSHA approved. What does that tell you? Not much. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews that testing of all prescription and nonprescription drugs and medical devices before they become available to consumers. Every aspirin you take and thermometer you use has FDA approval. Without it, no store could sell them.

However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no responsibility for consumer safety and does not approve any products. OSHA oversees the health and safety of workers on the job. So what does a company mean, for example, when it says its first-aid kit is OSHA approved? That's not clear. OSHA mandates items for first-aid kits in the logging industry only, and the average consumerís needs are likely to be quite different from loggersí. No government agency or testing laboratory approves first-aid kits.

Remember that just because a product states that it is "approved" or "recommended", does not necessarily mean that it is!

Family Safety & Health Fall 2001

10 ways to minimize lab waste

1. Good Housekeeping: Enables the efficient use of materials and time, minimizes accidents, reduces the need for repetition of experiments and creates a good working environment.

2. Label All Containers: This is in accordance with both OSHA and EPA regulations.

3. Document Procedures: All labs should prepare standard operating procedures (SOPs). This helps to reduce misunderstandings and helps in running the lab more efficiently.

4. Review Procedures Regularly: Procedures should be reviewed for continual improvement of waste minimization practices.

5. Maintain a Chemical Inventory: This helps to eliminate over purchase of chemicals and minimizes the amount of unneeded chemicals. All chemicals should be reviewed for age, containment and stability.

6. Centralize Purchasing: All departments should have a mechanism in place to avoid duplicate or excessive purchase of chemicals. Existing chemical stores should be reviewed for possible needed items instead of ordering new.

7. Spill Preparedness: Have spill clean up kits available. In laboratories where spill preparedness is addressed, fewer spills occur.

8. Neutralize Corrosives: For acids and bases that do not have any other hazardous constituents, neutralization is often appropriate. Neutralization conducted as part of the laboratory protocol is exempt from regulation.

9. Chromic Acid Cleaning Solutions: Chromic acid is highly corrosive, a strong oxidizer, and contains a heavy metal. In many cases, simple soaps and detergents work fine. Try to use cleaners that are less hazardous.

10. Lecture Bottles: Lecture bottles are easily forgotten in drawers and cabinets. They are also expensive to dispose. Most compressed gas vendors will now supply gases in partially filled cylinders or small cylinders with deposits. If purchase of a lecture size bottle is important to you, make sure the vendor will take the cylinder back.

Adapted from Chemical Health & Safety, Vol. 8 No. 5

Poisoning in children

Some general guidelines to reduce the risk of poisoning in children around the home:

          o Store medicines, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals in original containers with labels and with child-resistant packaging. Lock them out of sight and out of reach.
          o If you must leave the room while using a dangerous substance, take either the youngster or the product with you.
          o Ask the poison center for recommendations, such as having ipecac or activated charcoal on hand for swallowed poisons.
          o Keep emergency numbers for your poison center, doctor and hospital in a prominent place. You can find your local poison center inside the front cover of your phone book or at
          o Use child resistant closures.

    Fore more information try these websites:

    National Safety Councilís Environmental Health Center
    Environmental Protection Agency

    American Academy of Pediatrics
    American Association of Poison Control Centers

    Council on Family Health (202) 429-6600

    Poison Prevention Week Council U.S. Consumer Product

    Safety Commission

    Family Safety & Health Summer 2001


Cancer Mortality among hairdressers and barbers

Cancer mortality patterns were evaluated among hairdressers and barbers,  coded on 7.2 million death certificates in 24 states from 1984 to 1995. Of the 38,721 deaths among white and black hairdressers and barbers of both sexes, 9,495 were from  malignant neoplasms. Among black and white female hairdressers, mortality odds ratios were significantly elevated for all malignant neoplasms, lung cancer, and all lymphatic and hemopoietic cancers. White female hairdressers showed significant excess mortality from cancers of the stomach, colon, breast, pancreas, bladder and from non Hodgkin=s lymphoma and lymphoid leukemia. These cancers were also elevated among black female hairdressers.

-Excerpted from AChemical Health and Safety@ vol. 8, no. 5

Christmas Fire Safety

As the holiday season approaches we should all take a minute to think about safety during the Holidays. Every year thousands of people are injured or killed due to faulty Christmas decorations. Careful planning of your holiday decorations can help prevent any needless injuries.

Here at Creighton University the department of Residence Life distributes a newsletter every winter that clearly states what Christmas decorations are allowed in C.U. Dormitories. Residence Life has also expanded this fire safety concern further with a separate form that explains that C.U. Residence halls are Smoke and Flame Free.

    * Other flame sources will not be allowed in the halls, this includes candles, incense, oil lamps, etc.

Look forward to this Residence Life newsletter, and use good judgement and common sense if you feel the need to decorate your dorm room this coming holiday season.

Residential fires during the holiday season are especially tragic. Celebration and joy can quickly turn to sorrow and anguish because basic fire safety guidelines were neglected. Please remember, and keep in the back of your mind that "It can happen to you!"

Here are a few Holiday fire safety tips to use when getting ready for the holiday season approaches at home and here at Creighton University.

Decorating Safety

    * Christmas Trees:
      When buying a natural tree, the most important safety precaution is freshness. He higher the moister content the less likely it is to dry out and become a fire hazard. Check for freshness by examining the needles. Bend them between your fingers. They shouldnít break. Tap the tree gently on a firm surface, if many needles fall off, the tree is too dry. You canít depend on the color of the tree many are sprayed green. To keep your tree fresh longer, cut off two inches of the trunk and place it in a sturdy water holding stand with wide spread legs. Place the tree away from fireplaces, kerosene heaters, wall furnaces and other heat sources. Keep watering your tree. You should not block stairs or doorways. Dispose of the tree when needles begin to fall off in large quantities.

    * Artificial Trees:
      Artificial trees should bear the UL label. Never use electric lights on metal trees like the old silver trees. To avoid electric shock on metal trees, use colored spotlights securely mounted above or below the tree, never fastened directly on it. Plastic trees should be made of fire resistant material. This does not mean that the tree will not burn, but only that it will not catch fire easily. Keep artificial trees away from heat sources. Itís always a good idea to turn off your Christmas tree (live or artificial) whenever you leave your home.

    * Christmas Lights:
      Use only UL approved lighting. Inspect electric lights for broken or cracked sockets and frayed wires replace if necessary. Do not use indoor lights outdoors or visa-versa. Do not overload extension cords, and do not connect more than three sets of lights to one cord. Outlets should be readily accessible for quick disconnection if necessary. Never use lighted candles on or near a tree or other decorations. All lights should be securely fastened to the tree. No bulbs should come in contact with needles or branches. Turn off all holiday lights when you retire or leave home. Outdoor lights should be waterproof and clearly identified as designated for outdoor use. Remove outdoor lighting as soon as the season is over. Even outside lights are not designed to withstand prolonged exposure to winter weather.

"Safety" gift ideas

Put together a gift basket containing one or more of the following safety items for a friend, family members and even you to have around the house during the holiday season.

    * Three smoke detectors and batteries.
    * A quality fire extinguisher.
    * Flashlight and batteries or light sticks.
    * First-aid kit.
    * Carbon Monoxide detector.
    * Mobile phone
    * Second floor escape ladder/ rope ladder.


Excerpts from: Personality Creations, C.U. Residence Life Newsletter,

Childrenís Safety Zone


Falls and Hip Fractures Among Older Adults

In the United Sates, one of every three adults 65 years or older falls each year.  Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among people 65 and older.  Because the U.S. population is aging, the problem of him fractures will likely increase substantially over the next four decades.  By the year 2040, the number of hip fractures is expected to exceed 500,000.

Factors that contribute to falls include problems with gait and balance, neurological and musculoskeletal disabilities, psychoactive medication use, dementia and visual impairment.  Environmental hazards such as slippery surfaces, uneven floors, poor lighting, loose rugs, unstable furniture, and objects on floors also play a role.

What can older adults do to reduce their risk of falling?  Exercise improvers strength, balance and coordination.  Take steps to make living areas safer.  Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower floors.  Ask their doctor to review all medications in order to reduce side effects and interactions.  Have an eye doctor check their vision each year.  Poor vision can increase the risk of falling.

-Fact sheet from the Center for Disease Control


The June 1st issue of "Environmental Science and Technology" published a new study from Sweden, stating that air pollution from cutting grass for an hour with a gasoline powered lawn mower is equivalent to a 100-mile automobile ride.  Among the significant pollutants are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), classified as probable carcinogens by the centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-Excerpt form Chemical Health & Safety, Vol. 8, No. 5


This 2001 fall semester was one of the best years in resent C.U. history for fire alarm and Resident Hall student evacuation testing. Early last month all of Creighton Universityís Residence Halls had a fire alarm drill. The drills were coordinated this time of the year so that all students for the first time living in a new environment could be educated and introduced to there new surroundings. The fire drill is one of the many safety items that need to be conducted to remind all of us that emergencies do occur. People living in the residence halls need to know where to go and what to do if a fire emergency like this happens.

Some of the items to be aware of in a fire emergency:

         1. Locate fire escape route
         2. Know where two exits are available
         3. Crawl on the floor if smoke is present
         4. If caught in their room by heat, smoke or fire, hang a sheet out their window, so emergency personal can locate them.
         5. After exiting, move a safe distance away from building.
         6. Close doors behind them, to prevent air from circulating and spreading a fire.
         7. Locate pull stations on their floor to indicate a fire emergency to other residence in the building.

Now that all of the scheduled fire drills are complete, this does not mean that the fire alarm wonít go off in the near future. When you hear the fire alarm, treated as if it were a real fire. Disregard the fact that it maybe 3:00 am; in the morning, or earlier. When that fire alarm goes off it is going off for a reason. Either someone in the hall burnt some food, pulled the fire alarm maliciously or a real fire exists. Do not try to figure out why the alarm is sounding or going off, just remember to exit as soon as possible. Your life could depend on it.
One example:
Firefighters, battling a working fire at Washington State University Fraternity, were stunned to find a resident attempting to silence the buildings fire alarm system. His excuse: He wanted to get some sleep.

Students smoking or cooking in dorm rooms regularly disable alarms so nearly 10 percent fail to signal dorm blazes. Even when alarms work, students accustomed to false alarms ignore real danger, cooking in dorm rooms accounted for about 18 percent of dorm fires.

Remember; never tamper with fire safety equipment including smoke detectors, pull stations, heat detectors, sprinkler heads or the fire alarm system. Tampering with such devices could result in serious administrative consequences.

The rules that apply to living in Creighton University Campus Housing can be found in C.U. student handbook. These rules apply for your safety and the safety of others living in the same building. These rules have been developed by a great number of occurrences that happy across the nation at our other Universityís

Some examples:
Saturday, February 5th 2000
Clemson University
Clemson, SC

There was a fire on the fourth floor of a six -story residence hall.  The cause of the fire was determined to be an unattended candle

Sunday, February 6th, 2000
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, Illinois

An unattended candle in a SIU resident hall room started on fire.

Friday, February,11 2000
Atlantic Union College
Lancaster, Massachusetts

A fire in a three- story, wood frame residence hall completely destroyed the building. It was a cooking related fire

Saturday, February 6th 2000
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington

A fire started by a candle occurred in an off- campus fraternity

Tuesday, March 7th 2000
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio

A cigarette that was discarded started a fire in a residence hall into a trashcan.

Many of the fires that were listed above could have been avoided, as well as many headaches that followed. Make sure you are all practicing fire prevention in your resident hall. Be responsible for your attitude toward this Life Safety Issue. It only takes a second and rarely gives you a second chance.

William D. Worthing
Creighton University
Fire Safety Specialist

Accident Facts and Stats

The following are some facts and statistics reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other Federal Agencies:

    * Approximately 5,000 unintentional work related injury deaths will occur this year!!!

    * 75,000,000 days of work were lost on the job last year due to accidents!

    * On average, 18 workers per day will be killed in accidents, and it is estimated that 137 additional will die from occupationally related diseases.

    * Accidents in the workplace in the United States cost over $112,000,000.00 annually

    * OSHA penalties in excess of $100,000.00 or more increased by nearly 80% last year.

    * Workplace injuries and illnesses number in excess of 6,000,000 annually.

No matter how you look at it, the following is true in relation to business and safety:

   1. Accidents cost lives!
   2. Accidents cost time!
   3. Accidents cost production!
   4. Accidents affect moral!.
   5. Accidents cost money!


There is an old saying that applies very much to accidents: "If you havenít got time to do it right, when are you going to find time