In this issue of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Listserv, May 2, 2014:     


1.    Importing Animals and Animal Products + Spring Laboratory Safety Colloquium Online

2.    Two Injuries:  Laboratory Operations

3.    Near-Miss:  Maintenance Activities

4.    Injury:  Agricultural Operations

5.    Near-Miss:  Coiled Air Hose

6.    Elements of Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions #17: Identify the Ongoing Need to Support a Strong Safety Culture

7.    Revised Safe Operating Procedures



1.    Importing Animals and Animal Products + Spring Laboratory Safety Colloquium Online


The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) plays a vital role in ensuring the free flow of agricultural trade/research materials between the United States and other countries.  If you import or export live animals, materials derived from animals (e.g. RNA/DNA extracts, enzymes, blood, tissues, etc.) or livestock-associated microorganisms the EHS Safe Operating Procedure (SOP), Importing Animals and Animal Products, is a resource. 


It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI) to make an application for and obtain required APHIS-VS (Veterinary Services) permits and/or meet the requirements of the State of Nebraska Department of Agriculture animal importation regulations before engaging in the transport of regulated animals and animal products. 


The Spring Laboratory Safety Colloquium, Veterinary Services Permits, presentation and video are now available online. Dr. Kathleen Akin, USDA-APHIS Assistant District Director, provides guidance on navigating the USDA-APHIS web site to find information you need, get further information/consultation regarding VS Permits, and where to find the required forms. In the video Dr. Akin provides hints on completing Veterinary Services Permit forms in a manner to better expedite processing.



  Importing Animals and Animal Products SOP

  USDA APHIS Import Export web site

  Laboratory Safety Colloquium Series

o   EHS web site:

o   Office of Research and Economic Development web site:



2.   Two Injuries:  Laboratory Operations


In this issue we will review two laboratory injury incidents:

#1.   While attempting to remove a pipette bulb, a laboratory worker positioned their hand in relation to the pipette so that when the pipette broke they cut their finger, requiring first aid. 

Suggested mitigation: The worker should have wet the glass on the pipette prior to use and positioned the bulb on the pipette  securely but not a long way down the pipette’s length as they did, making removal more difficult.  When removing a pipette bulb, workers should take care not to apply too much pressure and wear hand protection.

#2. A worker got tetrahydrofuran (THF) into both eyes.  This injury occurred when the worker was attempting to remove distilled THF using a plastic syringe to which a long needle was connected.  The worker was wearing safety glasses over their prescription eyeglasses.  

The worker handled the syringe in a manner that oriented the tip of the needle pointing toward their face.  Upon depressing the plunger to remove air from the syringe, the needle came out. THF sprayed under both pairs of glasses and into their eyes. 

On a positive note, this worker was not working alone and immediately began shouting for assistance.  Lab mates assisted the worker to the eyewash.  While the worker experienced a burning sensation in their eyes for quite some time afterward, there was no permanent damage due to immediate and sustained flushing at the eyewash station.

Suggested mitigation: When there is risk of splash, safety goggles that fit snugly to the face should be used rather than safety glasses. A locking needle/syringe should be used when possible.  Workers should orient needle-syringe connections away from their body/face when working with such apparatus.  If such repositioning of the apparatus is not possible, make sure work is occurring with the hood sash far enough down to prevent splash from reaching your body/eyes. 

Review these two incidents with others as they apply to your work area/tasks so all may learn from the experience of others. If a student who is not a UNL employee should be injured, report it through the Student Injury/Illness Reporter!

Review the FREE laboratory safety posters available through EHS.  Determine which are relevant to your work and request any you wish to post by email ([log in to unmask]) or phone (402-472-4925).


  Environmental Health and Safety web site

  EHS-Provided “Safety Posters”

  Student Injury/Illness Reporter!

  Chemical Safety SOPs

  Personal Protective Equipment for Chemical Exposures

  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Eyes and Face

  Personal Protective Equipment web-based training


3.   Near-Miss:   Maintenance Activities

Identifying and investigating near-misses are key elements in finding and controlling risks before workers are injured or property is damaged. Following is an incident reported through the EHS online Near-Miss/Close Call Reporting System!

A maintenance worker, working in a space with building components that were relatively low, hit their head. When navigating an area with low head clearance a worker should:

       Wear a bump cap.

       Ensure the area is adequately lighted.

       Use extreme caution when navigating the area.

Head protection is necessary when there is risk of:

       Falling or moving objects striking the top or sides of the head. 

       Bumping the head against fixed objects, commonly encountered while working in tight or cramped spaces or when using mechanical devices to approach ceilings to conduct work.

       Accidental contact with energized electrical conductors, e.g. working from ladders or aerial lifts.

       Head injury while riding horses, operating All-Terrain vehicles, and similar situations/equipment.


  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) SOP

  Environmental Health and Safety web site

  Near-Miss/Close Call Reporting System!


4.   Injury:  Agricultural Operations

An agricultural worker turned sharply on an embankment while operating a single row open-cab combine.  The worker was thrown free and sustained injuries.  Workers operating this type of machinery should follow the manufacturer’s safe operating guidelines. The EHS SOP, All-Terrain Vehicles, provides general safety information that can also be applied to the type of equipment in this report.  A few recommendations for operating such equipment are:

       Prior to operation, riders should read the equipment manual, participate in hands-on instruction, and demonstrate competency to an experienced and trained instructor.

       Be familiar with the area of operation and do not operate the equipment at excessive speeds.  Go at a speed appropriate for the terrain, visibility conditions, and your experience.

       Be especially cautious when approaching hills, turns and obstacles and when operating on unfamiliar or rough terrain.  Know what conditions will result in a shift in the center of gravity of the equipment.


  Environmental Health and Safety web site

  All-Terrain Vehicles SOP

  Near-Miss/Close Call Reporting System!


5.   Near-Miss:  Coiled Air Hose

Following is an incident reported through the EHS online Near-Miss/Close Call Reporting System!

A worker was slightly injured (first aid only) while using a coiled air hose.  When he extended the hose it literally shattered into dozens of pieces.  It was determined that the hose failed due to brittleness and not air pressure. There was no visible residue inside the tubing.  Except for the brittleness, the tubing seemed in good shape—no abrasions or deformities.

The manager subsequently inspected other such assemblies in use at their facility.  They identified another air hose still in service that could be readily broken when disconnected, not under air pressure, and at room temperature. Often failure can be caused by a kink, resulting in tearing at the kink when under pressure. 

The two defective coiled air hoses had been purchased as recently as four years ago from a local agricultural supply store.  There were no markings on the tubing and so the manufacturer could not be determined.  All like-kind coiled air hoses at this facility were removed from service.  Apparently the manufacturer had used material not suited for the application.

This incident could have resulted in more than the very minor injuries that did occur.  The manager of the facility henceforth will only purchase name brand hose assemblies marked with ratings on the hose.

When using any equipment or tools, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for safe operation.  Inspect tools/equipment for integrity prior to use and immediately remove damaged/defective tools/equipment from service.  If you use air compressors at your facility, you are encouraged to carefully inspect the air hose and receiving tank.  Receiving tanks have also been known to fail violently, spewing shrapnel. 


  Eastern Washington University published guidance on safe use of air compressors

  Near-Miss/Close Call Reporting System!


6.   Elements of Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions   #17:   Identify the Need to Support a Strong Safety Culture


As you may recall from previous issues of the EHS listserv, there has been a great deal of national attention given to the topic of laboratory safety in higher education following investigations of serious incidents at UCLA and Texas Tech.  As a result, the American Chemical Society (ACS) issued a report, Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions.  While this report focuses on laboratory safety, its content is applicable to all campus settings. 

This report contained seventeen specific recommendations for creating vibrant, strong safety cultures in academic institutions.  Each of these recommendations is being highlighted individually and presented as a series in the EHS listserv.  The final recommendation in the ACS report is:  

Identify the ongoing need to support a strong safety culture and work with administrators and department chairs to establish a baseline budget to support safety activities on an annual basis.

Many of the suggestions described throughout this series of seventeen articles can be implemented with little or no cost.  Nevertheless, new and innovative approaches for building a strong safety culture may require funding. 

Before budgeting funds can be considered, departmental needs should be identified. Lack of current funds should not be a deterrent to identifying and communicating needs.  Dialogue should be encouraged at all levels to identify needs and deficiencies.  This will enable adequate planning to meet current and future needs.  Safety committees can be an important resource to assist in identifying and prioritizing needs, and facilitating communication throughout a unit or department.  A safety culture cannot be realized if it is perceived as an unaffordable expense. 

Always “think safety” to help foster the proper attitude toward safety as reflected in the “Safety Ethic,” espoused by the Safety Culture Task Force of the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety:

       Value safety:  Safety is an integral part of what one does, its automatic, and it does not change its priorities. It is never questioned and never compromised.

       Work safely:  One continues to learn about safety, learns to recognize hazards, assesses the risks of hazards, manages the risk of hazards, and prepares to handle emergencies.

       Prevent at-risk behavior:  One does not cut corners or bypass safety measures in the laboratory (or other work environment) and shares this information with others, as needed.

       Promote safety:  One encourages and acknowledges others in working safely.

       Accept responsibility for safety:  One takes steps to work safely, setting a positive example for others, and being accountable for safety. 


  Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions


7.  Revised Safe Operating Procedures  


  Safety Protocol:  241Am (Be) Neutron Probe SOP

SOP contents rearranged for ease of use,  a new Gauge Accountability log  included, contact information updated and asphalt gauge information removed. 


  Safety Protocol:  Sealed Sources SOP

Minor changes to this SOP update the activity of the sources.




Environmental Health and Safety

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

3630 East Campus Loop

Lincoln, NE  68583-0824

(402) 472-4925