Office Safety

Office areas are different from many other operations found at the University. Health and safety hazards that are most commonly found in University offices, classrooms or closing related environments are discussed in the following information. EHS has developed a checklist for areas to use in assessing whether the common hazards/issues found in office environments have been properly addressed for that area.

The following topics are discussed below:

  • Emergency Procedures
  • Injury or Illness Procedures
  • Ergonomics Assessments
  • Material Storage
  • Building Environment Issues
  • Waste Procedures
  • Contacts for Assistance

Emergency Procedures

  • For emergency assistance, telephone 911. The Department of Public Safety (Campus Police) provides emergency response for campus incidents. Procedures are found in the UI Emergency Procedures Guide
  • The DPS web site includes for details on the siren warning system, the Hawk Alert message system, fire prevention and safety, and a printable desktop guide on emergency procedures.
  • If a small fire situation arises, University employees are not required to use a fire extinguisher, but if they do the operator must report the incident to 911 as soon as possible.

Injury and Illness Procedures

  • For work-related injury or illness, the electronic First Report of Injury form must be submitted through the HR Self-Service site within 24 hours of the incident.  Once the report is submitted to the UI Benefits Office, automatic e-mail notifications will be sent to the injured employee, the supervisor, and the HR Unit Representative.
  • If medical treatment is needed, treatment locations authorized by the workers compensation insurance claims administrator in Des Moines must be used to receive benefits for medical payments and work absences.
  • When an employee is injured on the job, it is important to conduct an accident investigation as soon as possible. Guidance and forms are on the EHS web site.

Ergonomic Assessments

"Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.  Ergonomics is an approach or solution to deal with a number of problems – among them are work-related musculoskeletal disorders.”– NIOSH

Click on UI's Ergonomics Program for more information about the services offered and steps to take to request assistance.

Material Storage

Proper material storage and housekeeping are essential in maintaining a functional office operation.  Click on this link for more information on storage of office materials.

Building Environment Issues

Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) concerns are generally related to ventilation systems, the air, materials, operations inside a building, moisture intrusion, and individual sensitivities.  In a University building, the first contact for an indoor environmental quality concern is the maintenance organization for that building.

Other concerns not related to building air quality, but which may be perceived as an air quality issue are noise, transient odors from paint, roof repair, construction, lighting, workstation design, or job stress.  These issues need to be addressed between management of the affected department and the department overseeing the cause of the source.

Universal Waste Procedures

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates disposal of hazardous universal waste such as fluorescent lamps, batteries, and thermometers as these items may contain hazardous metals or materials. The EHS website has lists of these items, along with procedures to label the waste and have it picked up by EHS.  Custodians remove items such as fluorescent lamps for proper disposal.

Additional Information on Management of Universal Waste
 
In the State of Iowa, alkaline batteries and incandescent lamps (light bulbs) may be thrown away in the regular trash because they are not considered hazardous or universal waste.

Contacts for Assistance

It is advisable to first check with your supervisor if you have questions about your building or workplace procedures. Many units have a designated safety coordinator or safety committee representative to answer your questions.  You may also telephone EHS at 319.355.8501 or check the EHS website for individuals to contact directly.