MC receives OSHA warnings
September 13, 2013
In late August, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent a letter to Monmouth College outlining seven alleged workplace hazards that were given through an informal complaint. The letter was received by Monmouth College Director of Personnel Michael McNall on Aug. 22, instructing that the alleged hazards must be investigated and corrected by Aug. 29. OSHA tentatively closed the complaint on Monday, Sept. 9.
OSHA, at the time of the notice, had not visited campus to verify the hazards but made it clear that documentation of the alleged hazards would be needed or a formal inspection by OSHA would be carried out.
The alleged hazards outlined by OSHA in the letter to McNall include:
Maintenance employees use cleaning supplies (hazardous chemicals), and they are kept in unmarked containers.
Emergency lights throughout the college do not function.
The mechanical rooms have bare conduit.
Maintenance employees use a machine that sprays a mist, in order to clean bathrooms. Respirators are not provided to maintenance employees.
Maintenance employees use extension cords with cut insulation. The cords are taped up with duct tape.
Maintenance employees use new chemicals, and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) books have not been updated.
Maintenance employees use acids/caustic chemicals, and they are not supplied with eyewash.
According to McNall, all initial hazards given by OSHA were alleged, but after an investigation by the maintenance department of these hazards he found several to be valid concerns. The findings of his inspection include:
-Of the 500 emergency lights on campus, some were not functioning properly.
-After inspecting the 70 custodial closets and mechanical rooms on campus, measures were taken to make sure the rest of the complaints were taken care of.
-Two unmarked cleaning supply containers were found.
-Several MSDS sheets were also not found.
-A few vacuums were found with frayed cords.
-There was one instance of a rusted conduit.
- There were four instances of metal plates missing or broken on junction boxes.
-No respirator is required for the shower misting machine but protective masks were given to the custodial staff anyway.
-Personal bottles of eye wash were also given to custodians.
“In our investigation and response, we really tried to go above what OSHA was requiring,” McNall said. “We were able to identify and address the concerns.”
Along with correcting and investigating all of the hazards, McNall offered two retraining sessions for all maintenance, custodial and trade staff. The sessions helped staff members understand the processes and procedures. No unlabeled, mislabeled or double-labeled containers will be allowed; frayed cords must be reported and replaced; MSDS sheets must be accurate, updated and stored in each building; and work orders processes were reviewed.
It is important to report any hazards to Resident Life staff so proper action can be taken.
“There’s some real momentum now with safety,” said McNall. “We don’t want to let this safety initiative rest.”