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Occupational Safety at UW Oshkosh

This page contains information on occupational safety topics that pertain to a broad spectrum of occupations. Please contact the EHS Manager if you would like more safety information on these topics.

Preventing: Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips, trips and falls constitute a significant amount of injuries on our campus.

Slips, trips and falls can result in head injuries, back injuries, broken bones, cuts and lacerations, sprained joints or strained muscles. The Bureau of State Risk Management has identified “slips, trips and falls” as consistently one of the top five causes of workers’ compensation claims.


“slip” occurs when there is too little traction or friction between the shoe and walking surface. Things that cause individuals to slip might be icy, wet, or greasy surfaces. Highly polished floors and loose rugs can cause a slip. So can shoes without traction, like those with smooth leather soles.


“trip” occurs when a person’s foot contacts an object in their way or drops to a lower level unexpectedly, causing them to be thrown off balance. A trip most often results in a person falling forward, while a slip most often results in the person falling backward. Things that cause a trip might be uneven walking surfaces, clutter on floors, and individuals not paying attention to where they’re walking.


“fall” occurs when you are too far off-balance, and cannot steady yourself to maintain balance. Most slip, trip, and fall incidents are preventable with general precautions and safety measures. Watch where you are going!

Some of the Factors Contributing to Slips, Trips, and Falls Include:

Wet or Slippery Surfaces

Wet or slippery surfaces are a major cause of slips. Highly polished floors such as marble, terrazzo, or ceramic tile can be extremely slippery even when dry and definitely increase the potential for a slip when moisture (spills, rain, snow, and mud) is present. Food preparation areas and residential dorm bathrooms and kitchens are also high-risk slippery surfaces.

The following are some simple ways to reduce the likelihood of a slip and/or fall on wet or slippery floors:

  • Use anti-skid adhesive tape in high-traffic areas
  • Use absorbent mats in entranceways during inclement weather. (Caution: Unanchored mats may cause slip hazards themselves. Make sure that mats lie flat and that the backing material will not slide on the floor.)
  • Display wet floor signs when appropriate. Note that signs are a great awareness tool but should not be the only means of control. Have a procedure to clean up spills and wet floors as soon as practical.
  • WIPE OUR FEET on rugs when entering a building; this makes a big difference in keeping floors dry.
  • Wear proper footwear for better traction on slippery surfaces
  • When walking on ice, point your feet slightly outward and take slow, small steps
  • Try not to carry too much—you need to leave your hands and arms free to better balance yourself.
  • Protect the more vulnerable parts of your body like your head, neck, and spine if you do fall
  • When moving from carpet to tile or dry tile to wet tile, etc., the friction (grip) between the sole of the shoe and the floor surface lessens. Alter your stride to take shorter, slower steps.

Environmental Conditions

No matter how well the snow and ice are removed from campus sidewalks, parking lots, and the surrounding streets, people will invariably encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter. Many cold-weather injuries are the result of falls on ice-covered streets and sidewalks. Walking on snow or ice is especially treacherous.

  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles–use the vehicle for support.
  • Streets and sidewalks that have been cleared of snow and ice should still be approached with caution. Look out for “black ice.” Dew, fog, or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces and form an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement. It often shows up early in the morning or in areas that are shaded from the sun.

Changes in elevation may be unavoidable, but there are some simple ways to reduce accidents caused by these hazards:

  • Watch for bumps, potholes, sidewalk cracks, or changes in elevation
  • If you identify a problem area on campus, report it to the Facilities Management Department 
  • Nearly half of all falls occur on stairs. Keeping stairs in good repair is essential to preventing accidents. Make sure to use handrails.
  • Make sure stairways are well lit, with on/off switches at the top and bottom
  • Keep stairways clear of any obstacles
  • If you are wearing footwear such as high heels or sandals, use extra caution while going up and down
  • Report outdoor stairways if you notice ice, snow, or water accumulation. Call University Police dispatch at 424-1212 to report areas that need attention.



What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given to a group of six different fibrous minerals (amosite, chrysotile, crocidolite, and the fibrous varieties of tremolite, actinolite, and anthophyllite) that occur naturally in the environment. Asbestos minerals have separable long fibers that are strong and flexible enough to be spun and woven and are heat resistant.

Because of its mechanical and thermal characteristics, asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials (roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper products, and asbestos cement products), friction products (automobile clutch, brake, and transmission parts), heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets, and coatings. Some vermiculite or talc products may contain asbestos.

Where is the hazard?

The primary route of exposure for asbestos is through inhalation, however, it can also be ingested. The inhalation of asbestos fibers (which cannot be seen by the naked eye) puts workers at an increased risk for developing the following the following illnesses:

  • Asbestosis — a serious, progressive disease associated with long-term exposure to asbestos that causes damage (called ‘scarring’) to lung tissue. The symptoms of the disease (like shortness of breath) can be managed under the care of a doctor.
  • Lung cancer — Asbestos can result in the development of lung cancer and is one of the leading causes of all types of lung cancers among nonsmokers. Asbestos-exposed smokers have dramatically high rates of lung cancer.
  • Malignant mesothelioma — a rare progressive cancer of the tissue lining the chest or abdomen for which asbestos and similar fibers is the only known cause.
  • Gastrointestinal cancers — have been linked to ingestion of asbestos fibers.

How much asbestos causes illness?

Asbestosis has been associated with chronic exposure to high levels of asbestos. Asbestos workers (i.e., working 40 hours/week for 48 weeks/year) who are smokers, and who are not properly protected, have increased risk of developing lung cancers compared to non-exposed nonsmokers.

People who become ill from asbestos are almost always those who are exposed on a day-to-day basis in a job where they work directly with the material. As a person’s exposure to fibers increases, either by breathing more fibers or by breathing fibers for a longer time, that person’s risk of disease also increases. It can take anywhere from 10 to 40 years for someone to develop an asbestos-related illness after their exposure. Disease is very unlikely to result from a single, high-level exposure or from a short period of exposure to lower levels.

How could I be exposed to asbestos, and how can I avoid it?

For the general public, the best way to avoid exposure is to avoid breathing in dust from friable asbestos containing materials (ACMs). As stated earlier, many building materials manufactured over a number of decades contain asbestos.  At this time there is no comprehensive list of building materials that have been assessed for the presence of asbestos.

Therefore, many products found in campus buildings are presumed to contain asbestos.

  • Floor tiles, floor tile mastics (adhesive or sealant), plasters, roofing asphalts, drywall and other miscellaneous materials are presumed asbestos-containing materials (PACMs).
  • If these PACMs are in good condition there is no risk of exposure to fibers even if the material actually contains asbestos.
  • The university maintains a record of the locations of PACMs.  When renovations are performed in these locations the PACMs are tested before work begins to determine if asbestos abatement is needed.
  • If the material is “friable,” that is to say crumbling, or disintegrating to form a dust, there is potential for exposure.  If building materials are found in a friable condition they should be tested for the presence of asbestos.  If the test confirms the presence of asbestos, the material must be removed by qualified personnel.


What can I expect to see when asbestos is removed from my workplace?

When asbestos removal work begins the preparation of the job site and the protective equipment worn by contractors can be frightening to behold.  Asbestos workers face chronic exposure over the span of their career.  As such, the procedures they follow ensure their long term health and safety as well as the health and safety of their clients.

To protect your health and safety the contractor will take the following precautions at the job site:

  • The work site will be clearly marked as a hazard area. Do enter the area until work is completed.
  • The building’s heating and air conditioning system will be closed off from the work area if it contains supply or return air.
  • The work area will be sealed from the rest of the building using plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a physical barrier that contains dust.  For some repairs, such as pipe insulation removal, plastic glove bags may be adequate.
  • A wetting agent (water) will be applied to the asbestos material with a hand sprayer before removal. Wet fibers do not float in the air as easily as dry fibers and will be easier to clean up.
  • The material to be removed will not be broken into small pieces. This could release asbestos fibers into the air.
  • All ACMs, disposable equipment and clothing used in the job will be placed in sealed, leak-proof, and labeled heavy-duty plastic bags. The work site should be visually free of dust and debris.
  • Workers will avoid spreading or tracking asbestos dust into other areas.
  • Upon completion, the entire area will be thoroughly cleaned with wet mops, wet rags, sponges, or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners.

You can find more information about asbestos from the Environmental Protection Agency at  and from OSHA at

Confined Space Program

Confined Space Program

The purpose of the Confined Space program is to protect the health and safety of employees who enter confined spaces and/or are assigned to serve as attendants or rescue personnel.

This program applies to all employees who are authorized to enter a confined space, all employees assigned to serve as attendants and/or provide assistance during a CS emergency rescue and to employees who serve as CS Entry Supervisors and/or CS Entry Program Administrators.


The best way to survive an emergency involving a confined space is to avoid having the emergency.

These procedures assume that workers entering a confined space will follow procedures established for routine entry into confined spaces. While some of the requirements may seem unusual or cumbersome, the procedures are necessary to prevent emergencies or to help workers survive a confined space emergency.

Workers must complete the “Confined Space Entry Permit,” follow the precautions listed on the permit and any other specific procedures established.


CONFINED SPACE — a space that meets all the following criteria:

  • is large enough to bodily enter and perform work;
  • has limited means of entry and egress;
  • is not designed for continuous employee occupancy; and
  • has one of four hazardous characteristics (e.g., hazardous atmosphere, engulfment, entrapment, or other safety/health hazard).

Examples may include tanks, silos, boilers, pits, bins, manholes, electrical vaults, grease traps, and hoppers.

Additional information: 



Our goal is to help to provide a safe environment that minimizes potential injuries, decreases cumulative trauma disorders and workers’ compensation expenses, increases productivity, and ensures a healthier work environment.

Ergonomics tips:

  • Be alert for and avoid situations that can cause repeated strains to the arms, hands, back and neck.
  • Try to maintain a neutral hand or arm position while doing any task.
  • Report to your supervisor any situations that may cause a repetitive strain or stress to your body.
  • Avoid situations that may create strains or muscle pulls due to force or position required to complete the task.
  • In order to reduce the possibility of strains, prepare your body by stretching or participating in simple warm-up activities early in your shift.

Lifting Guidelines                                       

  • Lift with your legs by bending your knees.
  • Do not lift something from below waist level by bending at the waist.
  • Keep the load close to your body.
  • Move your feet to turn and never twist at the waist while lifting.
  • Think about your foot position when lifting an object to ensure your feet are safe if the load falls.
  • Get help with heavy or bulky loads.
  • Be alert for pinch points and watch your hand position.
  • Maintain communication with anyone helping you lift.
  • Be alert when carrying long objects that may strike a person or equipment.

UWO Campus and State of Wisconsin Resources:

For additional information contact your supervisor, or the Risk and Safety Department (

Other Resources:

NIOSH and OSHA Resources:


Other Resources:

Fall Protection Information

Fall Protection Information

Falls remain a killer of workers in the construction industry and workers in private industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 12 percent of fatal work injuries involved falls.

Falls from ladders and roofs still account for the majority of falls. Identifying fall hazards and deciding how best to protect workers is the first step in reducing or eliminating fall hazards.

Studies have shown that the use of guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers, and travel restriction systems can prevent many deaths and injuries from falls. (Source: OSHA.)

Identifying Fall Risks

All fall hazards should be identified at work sites with the potential for elevated work.

Once an elevated fall hazard has been recognized, an appropriate control measure must be selected. Priority should be given to eliminating the fall hazard over using fall protection equipment.

The first line of defense in addressing a fall hazard is to identify and eliminate the hazard. If a fall hazard cannot be eliminated, the second consideration would be to assess the workplace and process and implement an effective permanent means of providing fall protection. If a fall hazard cannot be eliminated and changes to the workplace cannot adequately ensure the prevention of falls, the last line of defense should be to control the fall.

Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime, and six feet in construction. However, fall protection must be provided regardless of the fall distance when working over dangerous equipment and machinery. Fall protection must be provided on roofs without 42″ high parapet walls or railings. Workers must use fall protection where required. Supervisors are jointly responsible for ensuring workers’ safety.

Types of Fall Protection Systems

There are two types of fall protection systems: “active” and passive”.

Passive Fall Protection Systems Include: 

Active Fall Protection Systems Include:

  • Aerial Lifts and Platforms
  • Guardrails
  • Safety Nets
  • Safety Monitors
  • Barricades
  • Lifelines
  • Work positioning
  • Personal Fall Arrest Equipment

Components of a “Personal Fall Arrest System”

A personal fall arrest system consists of the following:

  • Full-body harness
  • Lanyard
  • Lifeline
  • Snaphooks

A full-body harness consists of nylon and/or polyester straps that encompass the chest, chest, and waist or full body. In the event of a fall, a full body harness distributes the fall arrest forces over the pelvis, thighs, waist, and shoulders.

The attachment of the body harness must be located in the center of the wearer’s back, near the shoulder level, or above the head.

* OSHA Standard: 1926.502(d)(17)

Fall Safety—Theatre

Guardrail Systems in Theatre Catwalks

Many theatre catwalks, as we have at UWO, do not have a standard railing system (e.g., toeboard, mid rail, standard rail); rather, many just have a top rail and perhaps a toeboard.

The new 2002 Wisconsin Enrolled Commercial Building Code, Chapter 10 (Means of Egress) addresses the issue. Section 1003.2.12 does offer exceptions to the standard rail system for theatre occupancies:

Specifically, 1003.2.12:

Exception: Guards are not required for the following locations: #5: At elevated walking surfaces appurtenant to stages and platforms for access to and utilization of special lighting or equipment.

Although the building code provides an exception, fall protection methods must still be utilized from a safety perspective.

Students and workers must follow good work practices including:

  • Ensuring the catwalk is structurally sound and capable of supporting its design loading.
  • Inspecting the catwalk routinely including all welds and bracing members.
  • Being aware of the hazards of catwalks, especially in the presence of corrosive materials.
  • Observing catwalk conditions and reporting any defects immediately.

Contact Information About Fall Protection at UWO:

EHS Manager: Lori Welch, ( or (920) 424-0985.

Fall Protection Resources:

  • Sample Fall Protection Program


Compressed Gases

The following guidelines for cylinder storage are adapted from the Compressed Gas Association, OSHA 1910.101(b), and other resources.

  • Store cylinders in an upright position, away from sources of heat.
  • Keep valve protective caps in place when the cylinder is not in use or when being transported.
  • Cylinders should be individually secured; using a single restraint strap around a number of cylinders is often NOT effective.
    Acceptable means of securing a cylinder are:
    • A bench clamp with a belt
    • A chain mounted to a wall or cabinet
    • The chain or belt should be located between half height and 3/4 of the height of the cylinder.
  • Cylinders must be kept away from electrical wiring where the cylinder could become part of the circuit.
  • Cylinders must be stored in areas designated and marked only for cylinders.
  • Store cylinders away from corrosive vapors or excessive moisture.
  • Where practical, cylinders should be stored in compatible groups:
    • Flammables separated from oxidizers (at least by 20′)
    • Corrosives separated from flammables (at least by 20′)
    • Full cylinders separated from empties.
  • Empty cylinders should be clearly marked and stored as carefully as those that are full because residual gas may be present.
    • Mark empty cylinders EMPTY or MT. The use of cylinder tags is highly recommended.
  • Keep valves closed on empty cylinders.
  • Do not refill cylinders.
  • Do not lift cylinders by their caps or with lifting magnets.
Leadership's Safety Information

The responsibility for the health and safety of assigned employees is primarily vested in the leader. Leaders play a critical role in ensuring an understanding of safety practices and providing incentives to do things right.

Every Wisconsin State Agency has a legal obligation to provide and maintain a safe and healthful workplace for its employees according to Wisconsin State Statute 101.055.

In addition, each agency is required by Executive Order #194 to develop and implement a written comprehensive health and safety program to reduce the incidence of workplace injuries and illness. State of WI Executive Order #194 – Safety & Loss Prevention

Safety Programs

Leaders have an affirmative responsibility to set up and maintain a safety program.

The key principles include:

  • personal protection
  • the work environment
  • proper equipment maintenance
  • safety education
  • departmental supervision and control
  • records
  • inspections
  • investigations
  • analysis


The UW Oshkosh Risk and Safety Department ( is available for consultation in any of these areas.

In addition, two valuable resources to assist you in developing your written safety program are A Guide to Developing Your Written Health and Safety Program, and Safety Fundamentals for Supervisors. These are published by the Wisconsin Bureau of State Risk Management.

The leader must continually review safety measures for their relationship to the physical well-being of every student, visitor, and employee on the campus. The following is a list of some of the principal responsibilities that leaders have in the area of health and safety for all employees under their supervision.

Development of Proper Attitudes

  • The leader is responsible for the development of the proper attitude toward health and safety in all workers under his/her leadership. There is no single way to develop such an attitude. However, the following two activities will help promote the development of a positive attitude:

i.     Personal Example — the leader must set the proper example by his/her personal behavior. When a work area or situation requires personal protective apparel, the leader must also use the necessary apparel. In addition, the leader must never act unsafely or violate a safety rule or an established safe work practice.

ii.     Acceptance of Responsibilities — the leader can best convince other employees of the importance of health and safety issues by carrying out his/her safety responsibilities conscientiously and with conviction.

Knowledge of Safe Work Procedures

  • The leader is responsible for knowing the safe work procedures that must be used to perform each job task. It is also his/her responsibility to know what personal protective equipment is needed for each task and how this equipment must be properly used and maintained.

Orientation and Training of Employees

  • It is the leader’s responsibility to train and instruct employees so they can perform their work safely. This includes the proper use of machinery, hand tools, and the use of chemicals and other hazardous materials. The leader should also stress the importance of proper body mechanics and lifting techniques to prevent back and other related injuries. Special attention and instruction should be given to new employees or employees who have been recently assigned to a new job or different job duties. All training provided by the leader should be documented.

Detection of Employee Personal Difficulties

  • The leader should make every reasonable effort to observe each worker under his/her supervision sometime during each workday. It is the leader’s responsibility (within reasonable limits) to detect personal difficulties such as illness or disability among his/her workers. When such conditions are detected, proper action should be taken.

Enforcement of Safe Practices and Regulations

  • It is the leader’s responsibility to enforce safe work practices and procedures. Failure to do so invites an increase in unsafe acts and conditions.

Conducting Planned Observations

  • The leader should conduct planned observations of his/her employees for the purpose of insuring compliance with safe work practices. Whenever unsafe acts are observed, the leader should inform the worker immediately and explain why the act was unsafe. Depending upon the circumstance, disciplinary action may be warranted.

Prevention of Unsafe Conditions

  • Many unsafe conditions are the result of what employees do or fail to do properly. It is the leader’s responsibility to train and periodically remind employees of what conditions to look for, and how to correct or report these conditions.

Conducting Planned Safety Inspections

  • The leader should conduct periodic inspections of tools, vehicles, machinery and assigned work areas. Planned inspections are an effective and systematic method of discovering physical conditions that could contribute to a work injury.

Conducting Safety Meetings

  • The leader should periodically conduct safety meetings to help increase safety awareness and keep employees informed about their organizations health and safety programs. Safety meetings should be kept short and cover relevant topics such as recent job accidents or specific job hazards.

Correcting Unsafe Conditions

  • The leader should take immediate steps to correct unsafe conditions within his/her authority and ability. When an unsafe condition cannot be immediately corrected, the leader should take temporary precautionary measures. A follow-up system should also be used to ensure that corrective measures are completed in a timely fashion.

Investigating Unsafe Conditions

  • The leader is responsible for conducting accident investigations as soon after the accident as possible. All the facts and opinions regarding the causes of the accident should be compiled and documented.

Employee Injury and/or Illness

The leader is also responsible for becoming familiar with Worker’s Compensation so they can advise employees regarding their rights.

Contact the EHS Manager in the Risk and Safety Department ( for additional information.

Leaders should also become familiar with campus procedures regarding accident reporting, payment of claims, and form completion.

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) Information

“Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)” refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

This requires that a designated individual turns off and disconnects the machinery or equipment from its energy source(s) before performing service or maintenance and that the authorized employee(s) either lock or tag the energy-isolating device(s) to prevent the release of hazardous energy and take steps to verify that the energy has been isolated effectively.

UWO employees and students involved in the LOTO program must be given training.

Periodic inspections of the use of the procedures must be conducted to ensure continued effectiveness of the program:

  • Add the lockout procedure
  • Add the written program


Other Resources:

Machine Safeguarding

Moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries. Crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness can be prevented through machine safeguards. Simply put, any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded.

Where Mechanical Hazards Occur

Dangerous moving parts in these three basic areas need safeguarding:

  • Point of Operation: is the area where work is being done on a material, such as cutting, shaping, boring, or forming of material.
  • Power Transmission Apparatus: is the area of the mechanical system that transmits energy to the parts of the machine performing the work. These components include flywheels, pulleys, belts, connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains, cranks, and gears.
  • Other Moving Parts: include all parts of a machine that move while the machine is operating. These parts can be rotating, reciprocating, or transversing. Feed mechanisms and auxiliary parts of the machine are considered other moving parts as well.

Hazardous Mechanical Motions and Actions

Many mechanical motions and actions present hazards to the worker.

The following types of motions and actions are common to nearly all machines and recognizing them and their danger is essential to worker protection.

Motions Include:

  • Rotating: Rotating parts are dangerous because they can grip clothing or skin, forcing an arm or hand into a dangerous area.
  • Reciprocating: Reciprocating motions are dangerous because a worker may be struck or pinned during the back and forth or up and down motion.
  • Transverse: Transverse motion is movement in a straight continuous line. The danger in transverse motion lies in the possibility of a worker getting caught in a pinch point or dragged by the part itself.

Actions Include:

  • Cutting: The cutting action may involve all three motions and is dangerous at the point of operation. While the cutting action can be dangerous to fingers, limbs, torso and head, flying chips or debris pose a serious danger to the eyes and face.
  • Punching: The punching action results when pressure is applied to the ram for the purpose of stamping metal or other materials. The danger occurs at the point of operation when the material is inserted, held and withdrawn by hand.
  • Shearing: Shearing action involves applying power to a slide or knife to trim or shear metal or other materials. Like the punching actions, the hazard occurs at the point of operation.
  • Bending: The bending action occurs when power is applied to a slide to draw or stamp metal or other material. The hazard occurs at the point of operation, similar to punching and shearing.


Safeguard Requirements

In order to protect the machine operator, safeguards must meet minimum general requirements.

  • Prevent contact: The safeguard must prevent hands, arms, and any other part of an operator’s body from making contact with dangerous moving parts. A good safeguarding system eliminates the possibility of the operator or another worker placing parts of their bodies near hazardous moving parts.
  • Secure: Operators should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safeguard because a safeguard that can easily be made ineffective is no safeguard at all. Guards and safety devices should be made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use. They must be firmly secured to the machine.
  • Protect from falling objects: The safeguard should ensure that no objects can fall into moving parts. A small tool dropped into a cycling machine could easily become a projectile that could strike and injure someone.
  • Create no new hazards: A safeguard defeats its own purpose if it creates a hazard such as a shear point, a jagged edge, or an unfinished surface that could cause a laceration. The edges of guards, for instance, should be rolled or bolted in such a way to eliminate sharp edges.
  • Create no interference: Any safeguard that impedes an operator from performing the job quickly and comfortably might soon be overridden or disregarded. Proper safeguarding may actually enhance efficiency since it relieves the operator’s apprehensions about injury.
  • Allow safe lubrication: If possible, workers should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the safeguards. Locating oil reservoirs outside the guard, with a line leading to the lubrication point, will reduce the need for the operator or maintenance operator to enter the hazardous area.


View Methods of Machine Safeguarding (PDF)


Additional Resources:

Mechanical Lifts/Powered Platforms

Use of scissors lifts and powered platforms is routine at UWO.

Staff and students using forklifts, lawn tractors, and scissors lifts,  must receive basic operational and safety training prior to use. Personal protective equipment (PPE) may also be required.

Each operator shall be instructed in the safe and proper operation of the specific aerial device according to the manufacturer’s operator’s manual, and any other appropriate standards and safe work practices.

Please contact the EHS Manager, Lori Welch ( for additional information.

Some Safety Rules for Operating a Scissors Lift:

  • Ensure that workers who operate aerial lifts are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment.
  • Maintain and operate elevating work platforms in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Know the capacity of the lift you will be using and do not overload. Allow for the combined weight of the worker, tools, and materials.
  • Inspect the lift before each use.
  • Check the area of travel for hazards in your pathway (ground and overhead).
  • Maintain a safe distance from power lines (minimum clearance of at least 10 feet). Always treat powerlines, wires, and other conductors as energized, even if they are down or appear to be insulated.
  • Ensure that others are at a safe distance from the lift. If parked to do overhead work, surround the lift with orange safety cones to mark the safe perimeter.
  • Never modify the equipment without the manufacturer’s approval.
  • If the lift is unattended, lower the platform, shut off the engine, engage the parking brake and remove the key.
  • Never override hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical safety devices.
  • Do not allow workers to position themselves between overhead hazards, such as joists and beams, and the rails of the basket. Movement of the lift could crush the worker(s).
  • Set the brakes and use wheel chocks when on an incline.
  • Must use outriggers, if provided.
Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is intended to protect you from workplace hazards you may be exposed to if the exposure cannot be eliminated or controlled by other means.

PPE is selected based on an assessment of your job tasks and the potential hazards associated with your work. It may include protection for eye, face, head, hands, body, feet, ears/hearing and your respiratory system.

Training is required to ensure the proper use and care of PPE.  The training may be provided by your supervisor, a vendor or by Environmental Health & Safety.

Head Protection

General requirements: the employer shall ensure that each affected employee wears a protective helmet when working in areas where there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects. 1910.135(a)(1)

The employer shall ensure that a protective helmet designed to reduce electrical shock hazard is worn by each such affected employee when near exposed electrical conductors which could contact the head. 1910.135(a)(2)

  • Head and Foot Protection Chart

Eye Protection

The UWO policy on eye protection is the same as the State of Wisconsin policy on eye protection as defined by Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services regulations.

Specifically, SPS 332.15 adopts the OSHA standard for eye protection. The standard is entitled: Eye and Face Protection, 29 CFR 1910.133, and is a subpart of the regulations entitled Personal Protective Equipment. The standard itself is very brief. It is the interpretation of the standard that is most difficult.

Synopsis of OSHA Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1910.133):

General Requirements

  1. The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.
  1. The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects. Detachable side protectors (e.g. clip-on or slide-on side shields) meeting the pertinent requirements of this section are acceptable.
  2. The employer shall ensure that each affected employee who wears prescription lenses while engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.
  3. Eye and face PPE shall be distinctly marked to facilitate identification of the manufacturer.
  4. The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses equipment with filter lenses that have a shade number appropriate for the work being performed for protection from injurious light radiation.


Protective Footwear

Determining if Foot Protection is Necessary or Required

The initial step for assessing the need of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a hazard assessment. The assessment is an important element of a PPE program because it produces the information needed to select the appropriate PPE for any hazards present or likely to be present at particular workplaces.

For example, protective footwear must be worn when there is the hazard of:

  • Falling or rolling objects
  • Punctures
  • Stubbing or banging
  • Chemical or corrosive contact
  • Electrical shock
  • Burns
  • Slips and falls

Determining Type of Footwear

Select protective footwear based on the hazard assessment.

For example:

  • Steel-toed shoes to resist impact
  • Metatarsal guards to resist impact above the toes
  • Reinforced flexible metal soles or inner shoes to protect against punctures (assuming there’s no risk of electrical contact)
  • Sandals and open-toed shoes are prohibited in laboratories (including art studios), and food service areas (for safety and hygienic reasons)
  • For falling objects, use footwear with steel toes
  • Wear chemical resistant footwear (e.g., rubber, neoprene) in areas with potential chemical or corrosive splashes. Check the MSDS to match footwear with individual chemicals.
  • Replace worn footwear

Even if protective footwear is not deemed necessary, employees should still wear sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Sandals, sneakers or dress shoes may not be appropriate for many physical activities.


General Information

Some of the hazards that threaten hand safety are skin absorption of harmful substances; chemical hazards, such as caustic material, solvents or cutting oils; cuts or lacerations; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; harmful temperature extremes; bacteriological, blood or other infectious materials; and musculoskeletal disorders.

Preventing Hand Injuries

When substitution of less hazardous materials and work practice controls fails to eliminate the risk of injury to hands, protective gloves are the primary means of protection.

Protective equipment includes gloves, hand pads, tapes and mitts. There are many types of gloves available and the challenge is to find the right glove for the job.

  • Chemical Resistant Gloves:
  • Butyl: High resistance to gas or water vapors. Also resists common acids and alcohols.
  • Hot-Mill or Aluminized Gloves: Offer reflective and insulating protection. Generally used for welding, furnace and foundry work.
  • Latex: Provide protection from most aqueous solutions of acids, alkalis, salts and ketones. They resist abrasions during grinding, sandblasting and polishing. These general-purpose gloves are pliable and comfortable. Used for common industrial applications, food processing, maintenance, construction and lab work.
  • Natural Rubber: Liquid proof protection against acids, caustics and dye stuffs.
  • Neoprene: Provides protection against hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols, organic acids and alkalis. They offer good pliability and finger dexterity, high density, tensive strength plus high tear resistance.
  • Neoprene Latex: Protection against detergents, salts, acids and caustic solutions.
  • Nitrile/Natural Rubber: Provide protection from chlorinated solvents and are intended for jobs requiring dexterity and sensitivity. Nitrile/Rubber blend resists abrasions, cuts, tears and punctures.
  • N-DEX Gloves: This nitrile glove provides splash and spill protection against a wide variety of chemicals, although it is not intended for extended immersion activities. It is available in low-powder and powder-free options.
  • Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) Gloves: Resist strong solvents such as chlorinated and aromatic solvents. This material is water soluble (polyvinyl alcohol) and cannot be used in water or water-based solutions.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Gloves: Good for handling materials coated or immersed in grease, oil, acids or caustics. Resists abrasion. Can be purchased lined or unlined depending on dexterity requirements.
  • Silver Shield Gloves: Protection against a wide range of solvents, acids and bases. This lightweight laminate is flexible, but not form-fitting, which affects user dexterity.
  • Vinyl: Provides resistance to a variety of irritants.
  • Viton: Provides resistance to PCBs, chlorinated and aromatic solvents, gas and water vapors. This glove material can be used in water-based solutions.
  • Cotton or Canvas Gloves: General work gloves for parts handling, general maintenance. Provide abrasion resistance.
  • Leather Gloves: Mild heat resistance and good abrasion resistance.
  • Metal-Mesh, Kevlar, or Other Cut-Resistant Gloves: Protect against cuts and abrasions. Used for glass handling, metal fabrication, food processing applications, and handling other sharp tools or objects.
  • Shock-Absorbing Gloves: Protect against repetitive pushing and pounding or extended contact and help lessen the effects of constant vibration.

When ordering gloves, be sure to order the proper size.

Tight-fitting gloves can cause fatigue and be more vulnerable to tears. They can also cause increase perspiration. Loose-fitting gloves impair dexterity and are cumbersome and even hazardous around laboratory equipment. Rings with prongs and long fingernails can tear gloves made of thinner materials.

Hazard Assessments for Personal Protective Equipment

A critical first step in developing a comprehensive safety and health program is to identify physical and health hazards in the workplace. This process is known as a “hazard assessment.” Potential hazards may be physical or health-related and a comprehensive hazard assessment should identify hazards in both categories.

The hazard assessment involves obtaining information on the types of hazards present, the toxicity of the materials involved, and what other options are available to control exposure. General information about chemicals may be found in Safety Data Sheets. The chronic and acute effect of chemicals, biological and radiological materials should also be assessed.

Examples of physical hazards include moving objects, fluctuating temperatures, high intensity lighting, rolling or pinching objects, electrical connections and sharp edges.

Examples of health hazards include overexposure to harmful dusts, chemicals or radiation.

Serious consideration should be given to reducing these hazards by the use of engineering controls and/or administrative controls. Personal protective equipment should be used in conjunction with engineering and administrative controls.

The hazard assessment should begin with a walk-through survey of work areas to develop a list of potential hazards in the following basic hazard categories:

  • Impact: Examples: Working with or around powered tools or machinery. Use of powered liquid sprayers, air hammers, compressed air, or working in areas with high air turbulence where particles, fragments or chips are present. Working in areas where overhead hazards, falling hazards or moving hazards are present.
  • Penetration: Examples: Working with or around powered tools or equipment. Working with glass, wire, metal, sharp objects or other materials that can cut or pierce when broken or fragmented.
  • Compression — Pinching/Crushing/Roll-Over: Examples: Working with or around moving equipment, or parts. Exposure to falling objects. Use of heavy equipment or tools that could cause compression injuries, etc.
  • Chemical: This is a broad category which may include chemicals ranging from slightly irritating (such as cleaning products) to highly corrosive or toxic substances used in laboratories or industrial settings. Working with carcinogens, mutagens or teratogens.
  • Thermal — Heat/Cold: Examples: Operating furnaces, pouring and casting hot metal, welding. Working on steam, refrigerant, high temperature systems, etc. Working with cryogenic materials. Working in temperature extremes (e.g., steam tunnels, freezers, extended work outdoors in winter, etc.).
  • Harmful Dust Examples: asbestos, fiberglass, silica, animal dander. Woodworking, buffing, and general dusty conditions. High levels of airborne contaminants that cannot be eliminated by engineering controls.
  • Light (Optical) Radiation: Examples: Electric arc or gas welding, cutting, or torch brazing or soldering. Working with or around lasers. Working around sources of UV radiation.
  • Biologic: Examples: Working with human pathogens or materials that may be contaminated with infectious human pathogens.

Each of the basic hazards should be reviewed and a determination made as to the type, level of risk, and seriousness of potential injury. Consideration should be given to the possibility of exposure to several hazards at once.

The workplace should be periodically reassessed for any changes in conditions, equipment or operating procedures that could affect occupational hazards. This periodic reassessment should also include a review of injury and illness records to spot any trends or areas of concern and taking appropriate corrective action.

The suitability of existing PPE, including an evaluation of its condition and age, should be included in the reassessment.

Other Resources:

Respiratory Protection Information

Respiratory protection may be necessary when engineering controls cannot control airborne exposures to harmful atmospheres. Information on this Web page and Web pages listed on the left are intended to provide you with information to better understand respirator use, the respiratory protection program and the requirements associated with their use.

Medical Evaluations

Using a respirator may place a physiological burden on employees that varies with the type of respirator worn, the job and workplace conditions in which the respirator is used, as well as the medical status of the employee. In those situations where the use of a respirator is required, you must have a medical evaluation to determine your ability to use a respirator prior to use.

UWO uses Aurora Occupational Health Services to perform these medical evaluations. The physician will review your medical evaluation questionnaire and will provide a written recommendation regarding your ability to use a respirator. The physician must know specific parameters of respirator use, such as the length of time that a person will use the respirator, the frequency of use, and any additional stresses that may be experienced during use.

Additionally, some employees are required to undergo a “periodic medical examination” under the medical surveillance provisions of the OSHA respiratory protection standard CFR1910.134. If you are required to participate in the periodic evaluation, you will need to complete the Medical Questionnaire form.

Scaffold Safety Information

On Aug. 30, 1996, OSHA issued revised standards for scaffolds.

The revised standard, known as “Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry,” is found in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1926, Subpart L.

The final rule updates the existing construction scaffold standards in Subpart L. The new standards set performance-based criteria to protect employees from scaffold-related hazards such as falls, falling objects, structural instability, electrocution, or overloading.

The rule also addresses training and various types of scaffolds, as well as falling object protection, ladders, weather conditions, aerial lifts, stilts, and other matters that were not previously covered by the OSHA scaffold standards. In addition, it allows employers more flexibility when using protective systems for workers on scaffolding. This rule took effect on November 29, 1996.

Listed below are some of the key provisions of the regulation:

  • The standard requires fall protection at a 10 foot height above a lower level for employees. [1926.451(g)(1)]
  • Guardrail Height — The height of the toprail for scaffolds manufactured and placed in service before January 1, 2000 can be between 36 inches (0.9 m) and 45 inches (1.2 m). The height of the toprail for scaffolds manufactured and placed in service after January 1, 2000 must be between 38 inches (0.97 m) and 45 inches (1.2 m). [1926.451(g)(4)(ii)] When the cross point of cross bracing is used as a top rail, it must be between 38 inches (0.97 m) and 48 inches (1.3 m) above the work platform. [1926.451(g)(4)(xv)] Midrails must be installed approximately halfway between the top rail and the platform surface. [1926.451(g)(4)(iv)] When a cross point of cross bracing is used as a midrail, it must be between 20 inches (0.5 m) and 30 inches (0.8 m) above the work platform. [1926.451(g)(4)(xv)]
  • Erecting and Dismantling — When erecting and dismantling supported scaffolds, a competent person must determine the feasibility of providing a safe means of access and fall protection for these operations. [1926.451(e)(9) & 1926.451(g)(2)
  • Training — Employers must train each employee who works on a scaffold on the procedures to control or minimize the hazards. [1926.454]


Employees must be trained in (partial list):

  • Access
  • Electrical hazards
  • Fall protection and prevention of being struck by falling objects
  • Maximum safe load of the scaffold
  • Proper handling of materials on the scaffold
  • Proper scaffold construction
  • Proper use of the scaffold
  • Site safety
  • Inspections — Before each work shift and after any occurrence that could affect the structural integrity, a competent person must inspect the scaffold and scaffold components for visible defects. [1926.451(f)(3)]

Other Resources

Safety Rules for Powered Equipment

Safety Rules for Powered Equipment

In order to maintain the highest level of safety and efficiency in the work area, it is necessary to conform to standard work practice behavior. When working with equipment of any kind you must be aware of the potential for injury and observe behaviors that will eliminate risk. Organization and planning are fundamental aspects of safety.

Work Behavior

Please observe the following in the work area. Please remember that you are using a shared space.

  • Do not rush. Be organized and plan in advance what equipment you will use for the work activity you’re completing.
  • Respect others’ space and working time. Distractions cause accidents.
  • Keep your working area tidy and organized.
  • Ask questions about equipment you’re using if unsure about operations.
  • Be aware of who is using what, and the location of others in the room.
  • Wear required work attire. 
  • Use the right tool for the  job.
  • Do not eat or drink.
  • All pieces of powered equipment are potentially very dangerous if mishandled. You must comply with all safety regulations when using the equipment.

The following are general safety guidelines for use of some of the powered equipment typically found in studios and shops.

General Shop Safety Guidelines

  • Wear suitable eye protection when engaged in any activity where eye hazards may exist.
  • Wear hearing protection when operating a power tool when the signage indicates it. 
  • It is mandatory that you keep all machine safety guards on the machines in their correct position.
  • Keep-the floor clear of scraps and litter.
  • Exercise care in your handling of large, heavy and long pieces of material.
  • Make sure that everyone is clear of the machines before turning the power on to the machines.
  • Wait to clear scrap stock from the machines until it has come to a complete stop.
  • Do not engage in any form of “horse play” while in the shop.
  • Keep fingers clear of the point of operation of machines by using special tools or devices such as push sticks, hooks, pliers, etc. 
  • Avoid excessive use of compressed air to blow dirt or chips from machinery to avoid scattering chips. NEVER use compressed air guns to clean clothing, hair, or aim at another person. ALWAYS wear safety glasses when using compressed air.
  • A brush, hook, or special tool is preferred for removal of chips, shavings, etc. from the work area. Never use your hands.
  • Check the power cords and plugs on portable tools for damage or fray before using them.

Additional resources:

Welding, Torching and Brazing Safety

Welding, flame cutting, and brazing are common activities in UWO maintenance, shop, and instructional areas.

Supervisors and instructors must ensure all equipment is code-compliant, and in safe working order and that users are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment.

Please direct any questions regarding safety procedures to your supervisor or instructor or the Risk and Safety Department (

General Rules for Welding at UWO Include:

  • Know the hazards of the material(s) you are working with. Contact your supervisor or instructor for Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Please contact the Risk and Safety Department ( for air monitoring/exposure evaluation to welding fumes.
  • There are specific fire safety requirements for welding, flame cutting, and other “hot work” at UWO. Please see the following links or contact the Risk and Safety Department ( for additional information.
  • Precautions such as isolating welding and cutting, removing fire hazards and combustibles, and providing a fire watch for fire prevention shall be taken in areas where welding or other “hot work” is performed.
  • A “fire watch” shall be provided during the work and maintained for at least 1 hour after welding, flame cutting or other “hot work” has been completed. The “fire watch” is responsible for monitoring the entire operation to ensure that a fire has not started and to quickly extinguish any small fires that may ignite.
  • A fire extinguisher must be located adjacent to the activity and should be immediately available to the fire watch. The individual assigned to fire watch duties should not have other functions to perform and should maintain a constant watchfulness over the operation.
  • Eye protection shall be worn. Other persons adjacent to the welding area shall be protected by noncombustible or flameproof screens or shields and shall wear appropriate eye protection.
  • In shops, studios and laboratories use exhaust ventilation such as snorkel hoods and capture hoods to minimize your exposure to welding fumes. Contact your supervisor or instructor for instructions on the proper use and limitations of this safety equipment.


Other Resources: