General & Office Safety
Introduction and Resources
Ergonomics is the science of fitting tasks to the people who perform them. Ergonomic workplace and task design involves finding ways to reduce the accumulation of physical stresses that can result in injury, compromised work quality and lost productivity.
Work-related musculoskeletal injuries include muscle strain, tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome. People have differing physical capabilities and limitations, so they will have different risk factors and predispositions for musculoskeletal disorder.
The key ergonomic-related risk factors are frequency of motion, force, posture, and combinations of these three factors.
The links, below, provide an understanding of ergonomic issues and practical guidance on how to manage ergonomic concerns.
- NS Environment & Labour | http://www.gov.ns.ca/lwd/healthandsafety/ergonomics/docs/Ergonomics6Steps.pdf
- Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders | http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/rmirsi.html
- Manual Material Handling (Safe Lifting Guidelines) | http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/mmh/generalpractice.html#_1_2
- Fact Sheet - Adjusting Your Computer Workstation
- Fact Sheet - Working With Laptop Computers
- OHCOW Office Ergonomics Handbook
Resolving Ergonomic Concerns
In order to resolve ergonomic concerns, these are the steps which need to be taken:
- At the first sign of discomfort or other problems, stop and evaluate your task and work environment (including any furniture and equipment that you are using). Identify any conditions and practices in need of ergonomic improvements. Even if you're unfamiliar with ergonomic principles, the resources provided on this site will quickly help you gain an understanding of your problem and how to correct it. Many common ergonomic concerns, especially those found in offices, can be quite easily solved this way through simple adjustments. Early intervention is critical, so don't let problems escalate before you act. If you're already experiencing considerable discomfort or pain, proceed immediately to step 2.
- Inform your supervisor of your concern. Be specific, and request that your supervisor submit an online Occurrence Report. Ask your supervisor to work with you to review step 1 and to help you develop appropriate ergonomic solutions. It may be appropriate for you to seek medical advice for your discomfort, especially if you are experiencing any pain. If your concern is not resolved, or if you or your supervisor desire further assistance, proceed to step 3.
- Either you or your supervisor should contact the Health and Safety Office immediately, by submitting a Hazard Report or by emailing the OHS office. Your concern will be evaluated to identify appropriate solutions.
Indoor Environmental Quality
Introduction and Resources
Indoor environmental quality (often known as "indoor air quality") refers to the quality of the air and other environmental factors in an office or other building. Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) can be influenced by contaminants that originate within the building or ones that are drawn in from outdoors. If contaminant concentrations are excessive, IEQ problems can arise, even if the ventilation system is properly designed and well-maintained.
Where IEQ problems exist, they are often traced to ventilation system deficiencies, off-gassing from materials and equipment, microbiological contamination, and outside air pollutants. Other factors such as temperature, relative humidity, lighting, noise, ergonomic stressors (improperly designed work stations and tasks) and job-related psychosocial stressors can contribute to complaints.
Maintaining a Healthy and comfortable indoor environment in any building often requires a holistic approach, integrating many components of a complex system. IEQ problems are preventable and solvable. The links, below, provide an understanding of IEQ issues and practical guidance on how to manage IEQ concerns in our campus buildings.
- Indoor Air Quality - A General Guide | http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/iaq_intro.html
- Indoor Air Quality and Thermal Comfort in Open-Plan Offices | http://irc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/pubs/ctus/64_e.html
- Indoor Air Quality in Office Buildings: A Technical Guide | http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/air/office_building-immeubles_bureaux/sources_e.html
- Fungal Contamination in Public Buildings: Health Effects and Investigation Methods | http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/air/fungal-fongique/index_e.html
- Is There a Maximum Allowable Temperature for Buildings? | http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/max_temp.html
Resolving Indoor Environmental Quality Concerns
In order to resolve concerns over indoor environmental quality, these are the steps which need to be taken:
- Inform your supervisor of your concern. Be specific and give all pertinent details. If the initial facts suggest that there could be a health, safety, or fire risk, the supervisor or Building Manager should immediately contact Safety & Security at 585-1103.
- You and your supervisor should discuss and investigate those IEQ concerns that are obviously less urgent. In some cases, a local cause can be identified and easily corrected.
- Many indoor environmental quality situations are the result of a breakdown or other failure in the building's air handling system. If the air handling system appears to be the problem, the supervisor or Building Manager should contact Safety & Security at 585-1103.
- If step 2 does not resolve the problem, you should again review the situation with your supervisor. Either you or your supervisor should contact the Health and Safety Office by submitting a Hazard Report or by contacting the OHS Office. Further investigation, including testing or analysis, may be required.
General Building Inspection
General Building Inspection Process
Formal inspections are an important part of any safety program. Regularly scheduled inspections complement the much less formal observations that faculty, staff and students should do each time they enter building areas.
Formal building inspections are normally carried out by Building Managers (or their delegates). Members of Acadia's Health & Safety Committee and Sub-committees may also take part, or Committee members may perform a random inspection as an audit function.
The purpose of general building inspections is two-fold:
- to survey the facility in order to identify conditions which could lead to an injury, illness, or other loss, and
- to observe work methods, practices, and behaviours that could lead to an injury, illness, or other loss.
Having identified a concern, the inspection also includes a recommendation for corrective action and follow-up.
By documenting the inspection and the follow-up, we are fulfilling our legal obligations and demonstrating commitment to health and safety. Although there are many ways to carry out effective inspections, using a good inspection checklist reduces the chances of overlooking a possibly serious problem.
Building Inspection Procedures
- Building Managers must ensure that each building is formally inspected at least quarterly, in January, April, July and October.
- Building Managers may choose to personally conduct the general building inspections or delegate responsibility. Regardless, Building Managers are accountable to ensure that the inspections occur.
- Building Managers or their delegates shall complete the General Building Inspection Checklist. If a more appropriate checklist is available, it may be used instead. Immediate action should be taken to control hazards that pose imminent danger. Deficiencies and opportunities to improve health and safety shall be noted on the back (page 2) of the checklist. In many cases, inspectors can determine and implement the appropriate corrective actions. Corrective actions taken shall be recorded on the back of the checklist.
- Building Managers must review and action all outstanding deficiencies/opportunities. Effective, reliable corrective actions must be identified and implemented.
- Building Managers must ensure that corrective actions are documented and are followed-up. In many cases, this will require initiating work orders with Physical Plant. Once all actions are complete, Building Managers must ensure that all checklists are locally archived for future reference.
- Audits may be performed by the Health and Safety Office and/or Acadia's Health & Safety Committee to ensure integrity of the inspection program.
Enjoying Safe Off-Campus Field Trips, Labs and other Activities
Many off-campus activities present unique learning opportunities, and equally unique health and safety concerns. We need to consider special preventive and emergency measures, especially when there is a risk of becoming lost, sick or injured and when help may not be close at hand.
Participants must be advised about activity-specific hazards, including those related to travel, accommodation, and environmental risks (such as insect-transmitted diseases, hypothermia, and exposure to solar radiation). This requires careful pre-planning and attention to details by departments. Although the focus should always be on prevention, contingency plans for possible emergencies must also be developed and then communicated to everyone involved. Most importantly, leaders must be competent to run the activity so that they don't endanger themselves or the participants.
The following health & safety requirements will help ensure that everyone enjoys successful and safe off-campus activities:
- Expected requirements for faculty leading outdoor related activities, teaching outdoor labs or taking students off-campus on field trips:
- All faculty should be certified in at least Standard First Aid and Basic Level CPR or greater.
- All faculty are expected to be competent and have an up to date level of skill associated with the outdoor related activity they are teaching and leading.
- All faculty are expected to understand and use risk management technique and use these techniques to ensure the safety of the students.
- All faculty are expected to have a basic knowledge of the following; survival, navigation, accident response, proper clothing, emergency procedures, weather interpretation and search and rescue.
- All faculty are expected to research any geographic area they will be travelling through prior to the event to familiarize themselves with potential risks.
- All faculty should file a medical history form with their school each fall.
- Required Actions for all Outdoor Classes:
- All students will fill out a medical history form on day one of the class.
- All students will be advised during the first class what is expected of them regarding appropriate dress including proper foot wear, as well as the need to carry a full water bottle, use sunscreen, level of physical demand and the need to carry back-up clothing, raingear, hats, mittens, high energy foods, etc.
- The first class will be used to teach awareness of the demands of the course. Also, at this time the course outline will be reviewed, medical history forms issued and equipment lists given to the students and reviewed. The first class should not be outdoors doing the activity but used to set the standard of the classes to come.
- Any required personal equipment (boots, raingear, etc.) being used in a class that is the responsibility of the student will be examined and checked by the instructor.
- The instructor will identify any first aid trained persons in the class.
- Required Actions for Day Trips:
- A day trip will be any experience that leaves the campus with the expectation of returning before dark. If the experience meets these criteria, the leadership will do the following:
- Always carry a first aid kit and know how to use it.
- The instructor will inform their director's office of where the class is going. If the class is running late, that is, not able to return by 4:30pm, you must try to contact the director's office.
- Faculty members will file a detailed route plan only for day trips that are off road or water based.
- The instructor will carry the student's medical history form with the first aid kit and have a copy placed in each student's file.
- The instructor will do a pre-class check to ensure all students have all personal and university equipment necessary for the class and that it is in good condition.
- During travel by foot, canoe, ski, snowshoe or bike, the instructor will assign a lead person and a sweep person.
- During travel, the instructor will have safety guidelines in place (example; stop at every intersection on a trail to regroup, buddy system for students, water and energy breaks, etc.).
- The instructor will carry a map and compass or GPS during any off road event.
- The instructor will carry a leader's or emergency pack during all off road trips.
- Instructor will carry the necessary repair kit and tools for the activity.
- The instructor will check the weather forecast for expected conditions and make the appropriate judgement regarding the safety of the students.
- Required Actions for Overnight Trips:
- Overnight trip are any trip that will have the students off campus for one or more nights. The following criteria must be met:
- All students will complete a medical history form.
- The instructor will carry the medical history forms during the activity and file one in each student's personal file.
- The instructor will develop a route plan outlining where the overnight experience will travel to, stay and carry map and compass or GPS at all times (if off road).
- All group members should wear a compass and whistle at all time and understand the use of a escape bearing and emergency signals.
- The instructor will have the appropriate emergency equipment available at all times (first aid kits, throw bags, etc.).
- The instructor will issue to each student the mandatory personal equipment list and conduct a mandatory equipment check prior to departure.
- The instructor will develop an emergency procedures plan and educate the class members on the procedures.
- The instructor will check the weather forecast and adjust the event as necessary.
- The instructor will develop group safety rules and guidelines.
- The instructor/class will develop a menu plan and ensure all food is appropriate and packed.
- The instructor and class members will carry an emergency pack at all time when off road.
- The instructor will use Acadia Safety and Security as the primary contact in the event of an emergency. The back-up person will make their location known to Acadia Safety and Security and will be contacted by them if needed.
- The instructor will file duplicates of all informed consent forms, the route plan, the emergency procedures and copies of maps and location with a back-up person at Acadia.
- The instructor will notify the back-up person and Acadia Safety and Security immediately upon the return to campus at the end of an overnight experience.
- Required Actions for Non-Outdoor Overnight Trips:
- All students will complete an informed consent form.
- The instructor will carry the informed consent forms during the activity and file one in each student's personal file.
- The instructor will file a travel plan with the director's office listing place that will be visited, route that will be travelled, contact phone numbers, accommodations, time of departure and expected time of return.
- The instructor will check the weather forecast and adjust the travel as necessary.
Other General and Office Safety Resources
A Comprehensive Safety Overview - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/landscaping/
Safe Use of Tractors - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/tractors/
Stepladder Use - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/ladders/step.html
Hazard and Risk Overview - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/hsprograms/hazard_risk.html
Risk Assessment -http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/hsprograms/risk_assessment.html
Basic Information - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/noise_basic.html
Auditory Effects - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/noise_auditory.html
Non-auditory Effects - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/non_auditory.html
Exposure Limits - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/exposure_can.html
General Safety & Secuity Tips - Transport Canada
Travel Medicine - Health Canada
Traveler's Health - Centres For Disease Control (CDC)
Information and Assistance For Canadians Abroad - Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Negative Interactions - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/violence_negative.html
Parking Lot Safety - http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/violence_parking_lot.html