In this Edition
Is the Lithium Battery in Your Device Safe?
Lithium batteries are in many items, from electronic cigarettes to motor vehicles. Most of the devices are perfectly safe. However, there have been a few issues arising from items containing these batteries. The UW Bothell campus recently had a hover board fire, and there was a fire on the Seattle campus because of a battery-powered vacuum cleaner.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported 171 air/airport incidents involving batteries carried as cargo or baggage since 1991. They prohibit transporting uninstalled lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries in checked baggage. You may be able to transport installed lithium-ion and lithium metal batteries in your carry-on bags, but the batteries must be a certain size and must be installed in a device or protected from damage and short circuit. For more information, see the FAA website and this video. You can also contact EH&S Environmental Programs with questions about transporting batteries.
You can prevent fires from batteries in your devices with a few safe practices:
- Do not leave devices charging unattended, and remove them from power when charging is complete.
- Keep a clear area around items when charging. For example, do not charge your laptop while it is still in your backpack or in your bed. Items such as bedding and clothing can contribute to overheating.
- Purchase devices and batteries from reputable sellers. This is especially important when purchasing replacement batteries. Batteries that do not meet stringent safety standards pose serious fire dangers, and some sellers and manufacturers do not meet the standards. The safest approach is to purchase batteries from reputable, well-known manufacturers.
For questions about safe battery storage and use, contact the EHS& Fire Safety group.
Your Health and Safety Committee
Safety committees provide valuable contributions to the UW’s total workplace safety program. Ten committees represent all UW employees, and the new two-year term for these committees began January 1, 2016.
Representatives from these committees make up the University-Wide (U-Wide) Health and Safety Committee, which also began its new two-year term at the start of the year. The U-Wide committee has two representatives from each of the ten organizational committees, a representative from the Faculty Senate, union representation, and other ex-officio members.
Each committee meets monthly. Members review workplace accident reports and departmental health and safety plans, and help to identify and address potential hazards. This committee structure helps share safety-related information throughout the UW community.
Committees are a great resource. If you have a workplace safety concern or suggestion for your safety committee, get in touch with your representative or the chair of your group committee. See the EH&S website for which committee represents your department and to see the complete membership rosters. These are the chairs recently selected for each of the ten committees:
- Group 1: Administrative and Other Academic Programs – Leslie Anderson, University Advancement
- Group 2: Finance and Facilities – Chad Cook, Grant & Contract Accounting
- Group 3: Student Life – Sara Jones, Recreational Sports Programs
- Group 4: Health Sciences – Nadia Khan, School of Social Work
- Group 5: UW Medicine – Liz Kindred, Harborview Medical Center
- Group 6: College of Arts and Sciences – Paul Miller, Department of Chemistry
- Group 7: UW Bothell – Betsy Brown, Department of Recreation & Wellness
- Group 8: UW Tacoma – Alex Volkman, Advancement, and Hannah Wilson, Library
- Group 9: College of Engineering – Sonia Honeydew, College of Engineering Dean’s Office
- Group 10: College of the Environment – David Warren, Atmospheric Sciences
For more information regarding health and safety committees, contact EH&S at 206-543-7388.
Preparing Your Laboratory for an Earthquake
Part of keeping your laboratory safe is ensuring it is prepared for an earthquake or other natural disaster. Here are some best practices for protecting yourself and others in this potential scenario.
Protect Your Exit Way
Tall or heavy equipment near your laboratory exit could tip over and block it during an earthquake, so take action now to prevent this:
- Secure equipment in corridors as outlined in the EH&S Use of Corridors and Unassigned Spaces policy. A general rule of thumb is to secure any item 4 feet or taller that has a height to (smallest) base dimension ratio of 2.5.
- Look at shelving units, equipment racks, and file cabinets taller than 4 feet, and distillation units, gas cylinders, and cryogenic dewars.
- Contact Facilities Services to get an estimate for adding anchors to secure these items to the wall or floor.
Prevent Injury and Protect Equipment
- Store other large, heavy, and hazardous chemicals (such as corrosives) as low as possible and below head level.
- Store chemicals and hazardous materials in closed cabinets or on shelves with lips.
- Secure compressed gas using two chains or straps. While one strap or chain meets the minimum requirement of the fire code, two straps or chains located at 1/3 and 2/3 of the cylinder height above the floor will perform better in an earthquake. For more information, see the EH&S Compressed Gases web page.
- Secure expensive lab equipment with earthquake restraint systems.
For more information on laboratory emergency preparedness, see the UW Lab Safety Manual, Section 9. For specific assistance in personal preparedness for an earthquake in laboratories, please contact UW Emergency Management by email or at 206-897-8000.
Outdoor UW Events May Require a Permit
Is your group planning a party, departmental graduation ceremony, or other event at UW? Your outdoor event may require a permit from the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) if any of the following apply:
- Outdoor assembly events, public and private, when the attendance exceeds 99 people for an enclosed area and 499 persons for an open area
- Events that will occupy a space that obstructs a fire lane or building access
- Tents, canopies, and air-inflated structures
- Propane barbecues and grills, open flames (including charcoal grills), and candles
- Fireworks or pyrotechnics
For events requiring a permit, SFD requires the application two weeks in advance of the event. You can complete a special event application on the SFD website. For more information, see the EH&S website or call EH&S at 206-221-7055 or SFD at 206-386-1450.
If you are serving food at your outdoor event, see the next article for how to determine whether you need to apply for a temporary food permit from EH&S.
Do You Need a Temporary Food Permit for Your UW Event?
If you are organizing an event where you plan to serve food, you might need a temporary food permit. The following groups need a temporary permit to sell or give away perishable food on UW property at an event open to the campus community:
- Registered student organizations (RSOs)
- UW departments
- Non-UW groups organizing an event sponsored by a UW department
- Off-campus groups intending to serve food from off-campus sources
If your group is planning to serve perishable food, no permit is needed if any of the following apply:
- The food is provided by UW Housing and Food Services
- The group is private and holding an invitation-only event, such as a wedding reception or conference
- Home-prepared foods are to be served only as part of a departmental potluck
- You plan to offer non-perishable, commercially pre-packaged food
You can easily apply for a temporary food permit on the EH&S website; please apply at least 10 working days before the event. For more information about food safety and permits, see the EH&S Food Safety web page or contact us.
Staff Spotlight: John Kelly
John Kelly is a program operations specialist for the Building and Fire Safety group in EH&S. He advises on capital projects to help ensure the designs meet safety and environmental standards.
A native of Salt Lake City, Kelly’s family history and personal experiences led to his interest in occupational health. His grandfather died in a mining accident when his father was only two years old. During college jobs at a machine shop and a detergent manufacturing plant, Kelly witnessed the suffering caused by workplace injuries that could have been prevented.
After Kelly completed his B.S. degree in biology from the University of Utah, he moved to Seattle, inspired by the natural beauty of the area. He completed a M.S. in Environmental Health in the UW Department of Environmental Health (now DEOHS). After graduating, he joined the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Cincinnati where he completed health hazard evaluations at industrial facilities around the country. While Kelly really enjoyed that work, he returned to Seattle to be “out west” again and pursue recreational interests. He joined EH&S as an industrial hygienist, focusing on chemical safety, regulated building materials, and chemical safety before transitioning into his current role of capital project review.
Kelly reviews designs for construction projects at the UW. He writes and maintains design criteria for laboratories and safe access, reviews project drawings and specifications, and makes recommendations for improvement. He also identifies and facilitates small capital safety projects to solve facility-related health and safety problems. Over the years Kelly has realized that “while technical ability is important, personal relationships and the ability to work with others determines the success of a project.”
Preventing workplace injuries by designing safety into a facility is rewarding for Kelly. He is confident that his opportunity to participate in the design process has resulted in safer facilities for occupants and maintenance personnel.
Kelly’s interests include skiing, hiking, kayaking, and music.
New State Regulation of Radioactive Material
The Washington State Department of Health Office of Radiation Protection has issued a new regulation to increase control over locations with large quantities of radioactive material. This new regulation, WAC 246-237 Radiation Protection – Physical Protection of Category 1 and Category 2 Quantities of Radioactive Material, replaces the previous orders issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Based on differences between the new WAC and the previous orders, EH&S Radiation Safety has updated the procedures for granting access to and securing these locations. See the official memo for more information about this new WAC and the associated updated procedures.
OSHA Announces Final Rule Lowering Silica Exposure Limit
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust. The new limit is 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, with an action limit of 25 micrograms.
Employers can reduce silica dust exposure using engineering controls such as vacuums and wet methods. Construction industries will have until June 23, 2017, and general industry until June 23, 2018, to implement the standard. More information on the silica standard is available at the OSHA website.
The UW has maintenance and construction workers that may fall under each category. EH&S works closely with Facilities Services to monitor and reduce employee silica dust exposure. If you are working with concrete, stone, pottery clay, or other mineral dust and are interested in measuring or reducing your exposure, your supervisor can contact Gary Bangs.
Send comments and submissions to the newsletter editor, Anne Tschider.