Occupational & Office Safety

OSHA's Mission

With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.

Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and salespeople, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. OSHA's electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions. Training can include awareness (Skillport), authorized, NFPA70E (Skillport and classroom) and other areas under electrical standards.

Ergonomics is the process of identifying job-related tasks and then matching the working conditions to human capabilities.

Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors for Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) increases a worker's risk of injury. Work-related MSDs can be prevented. Ergonomics --- fitting a job to a person --- helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs.

Ergonomics Self-Evaluation Form

The purpose of Rensselaer’s Hazard Communication Program is to provide written procedures and guidelines to comprehensively address the process of evaluating the potential hazards of chemicals, and the communication of hazards and appropriate personal protective measures to Rensselaer employees, contractors and visitors. The communication of chemical hazards is the responsibility of all individuals in the campus community and is coordinated through the EHS&RM . Hazards Communication involves the use of Safety Data Sheets (SDS), container labeling and other forms of warning, information and training and comprehensive risk assessment. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), under OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard and the Right to know.

Hazard Communication Program

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Indoor Air Quality

Several factors can affect the indoor air quality (IAQ) in a building. Most often, poor IAQ is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in cleaning, maintenance, or personal products, from vehicle exhaust that becomes entrained in the air intake, or a lack of adequate airflow to the office space. Sometimes, indoor air quality can be impacted by mold and fungal growth. IAQ problems are hard to track down due to the variety of potential sources and the variation associated with their occurrence on a day-to-day basis.

How EHS&RM can help

We have several instruments to monitor IAQ. Our instruments can measure or sample for:

  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Temperature
  • Airborne particles
  • Humidity
  • Volatile Organic Compounds

Unfortunately, there is no single instrument (the mythical “Magic Sniffer”) that can test the air and conclusively identify all contaminants. Identifying the source of an IAQ problem requires knowledge of the potential sources of contaminants and a way to test for them.

If you are experiencing discomfort from the air quality in your building contact EHS&RM at 518-276-6427 and we will conduct an evaluation, collect samples if necessary, and make recommendations based on the results.

Before you call…

To save yourself some time and perhaps some frustration, there are things you can do to investigate poor IAQ conditions in your office.

  1. Plants can be a source of mold and fungi that may cause allergies. If there plants in your work area, experiment with moving one or more types out at a time and see if the reaction is less over the next few days.
  2. Some perfumes, lotions, deodorants, etc. can cause reactions in people who have a greater sensitivity. Be cognizant of the people in your area and their sensitivities.
  3. If you have a refrigerator near or in your office, check it for outdated goods.
  4. Peek in a few garbage cans in case someone just threw away one of the outdated goods from the refrigerator.
  5. If all else fails, give us a call at 518-276-6427.

Appendix II Occupant Diary

Indoor Air Quality Program

  • Damp indoor environments caused by water leaks, floods or high humidity can lead to the growth of mold and other microbial organisms. Uncontrolled mold and microbial growth and exposure to building dampness can be associated with respiratory symptoms. For people who are sensitive to molds, exposure can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation.
  • If you see or suspect mold growth in your building, report it to FIXX@rpi.edu
  • Contact Environmental, Health, Safety and Risk Management, 518-276-6427 or EHS-RM@rpi.edu, if you have health concerns related to mold and microbial growth.
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