In this issue of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Listserv, January 22, 2015:     


1.    Friendly Reminder:  Pathogen Inventories

2.    Promoting an Academic Safety Culture, Recommendation #5

3.    Laboratory Coat Rental

4.    Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling 

5.    “Really Obvious” Safety Clips &  “Active Shooter” Videos

6.    New/Revised Safe Operating Procedure/Training



1.   Friendly Reminder:  Pathogen Inventories


If you are a faculty or staff member with collections of human, animal, or plant pathogens, whether the agents are actively being used or are in long-term storage, a new Safe Operating Procedure (SOP) titled Pathogen Inventories is one you should review.  UNL recently adopted a policy requiring any person in possession of a pathological agent to submit an inventory to EHS.  Policy requirements and the mechanics of submitting the inventory are described in more detail in the SOP.  As you conduct the inventory, be particularly mindful of abandoned materials and report these to EHS.  If you have questions, contact the UNL Biosafety Officer by phone (402-472-9554) or email [log in to unmask].



Pathogen Inventories SOP

Disposing of Biohazardous Materials Including Recombinant Nucleic Acids SOP


2.   Promoting an Academic Safety Culture, Recommendation #5


Recently the National Research Council (NRC), the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, completed work on a publication titled “Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research.”  The recommendations within this report apply beyond chemical laboratories/research.

The shift away from mere compliance and toward promoting a strong, positive safety culture has already yielded benefits in other industries. The hope is that the NRC recommendations help move academic institutions toward the adoption of a culture of safety that goes beyond inspections, standard operating procedures, and safety plans, all with the ultimate goal of protecting the lives and health of the campus community.

Recommendations from this report will be reviewed one-by-one in each successive issue of the EHS listserv.  The fifth recommendation is:

Department Chairs and principal investigators should make greater use of teams, groups, and other engagement strategies and institutional support organizations (environmental health and safety, facilities) to establish and promote a strong, positive safety culture. 


Leadership should empower researchers to communicate freely about safety and take an active role in sustaining a safe research environment, promoting safety as a core value. Research groups should work together toward the development of a strong, positive safety culture, remembering to use the resources available internally and externally, e.g. UNL’s Environmental Health and Safety, professional associations, etc.  Safety Committees are another valuable resource to help develop and cultivate a safety culture leading to adoption of safety as the personal attitude of all workers/researchers.

Safety is a priority at UNL.  Make sure it is a priority in your individual work location, laboratory or otherwise.   To this end, consider adopting the following as your personal ethic:

       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 risks of hazards, and prepares to handle emergencies.

       Prevent at-risk behavior:  One does not cut corners or bypass safety measures and shares this information with others, as needed.

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

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



  NRC free download/read online: “Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research (2014)”  

  American Chemical Society, Safety Practices and Recommendations (Publications):

  American Chemical Society, pages 3-6, “Increasing Safety Awareness: An Academic Imperative”

  American Chemical Society “Identifying and Evaluating Hazards in Research Laboratories”

  EHS Job Safety Assessment SOP

  EHS Virtual Manual:


3.   Laboratory Coat Rental


Some departments may be struggling with cost effective solutions for providing proper laboratory attire, specifically laboratory coats.  Lab coats are an integral part of laboratory safety in the presence of biological, radioactive, chemical, and fire hazards.  However, they can be expensive and difficult to launder and maintain. 


One option is to evaluate the benefits of renting lab coats from a full-service uniform rental company.  Benefits include a small rental fee, replacement of worn or damaged coats, and off-site laundering.  One such company offering services to UNL is Cintas.  If a turn-key lab coat rental program may be of benefit to your department, contact the local Cintas Sales Representative: Malcom Wad, [log in to unmask], 402-734-3428 (O);

402-730-4006 (C).


4.   Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling


Here are some tips to help keep you safe and avoid injury while shoveling snow.



       Dress appropriately.  Wear water-repellent clothing, layered for best insulation and to allow removal of a layer to prevent overheating.  Cover your head, hands, and feet with weather-appropriate gear.  Wear shoes/boots with slip-resistant soles.

       Timing matters.  Start snow removal when there is a light covering and repeat.  Do not wait for the snow to stop/accumulate.  Do not plan to shovel immediately after eating and avoid caffeine before beginning. 

       Clear vision is important.  Be sure your cold weather clothing does not obstruct your vision so you can watch for icy spots/uneven surfaces.  Retain awareness of your surroundings so you do not inadvertently find yourself in a traffic path as vehicles may not have good traction on the snow/ice.

       Prepare yourself.  Shoveling snow can raise your heart rate and blood pressure.  Be sure your muscles are warmed up by stretching as you would for any workout.  Walking a few minutes or marching in place is one suggestion for a ‘warm-up.”  Cold, tight muscles are more likely to result in a sprain or strain.  If you have a history of heart or other medical problems or do not exercise regularly, check with your doctor before shoveling.


While shoveling:

       Pace yourself.  Snow shoveling is an aerobic activity.  Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

       Use proper equipment.  Use a shovel comfortable for your height and strength.  Sometimes a smaller blade is better as it avoids the risk of trying to pick up too much snow at once.

       Use proper technique.  When gripping the shovel position your hands 12 inches apart.  This increases leverage and reduces the strain on your body. If possible, push the snow rather than lift to avoid back strain.

       If you must lift, lift properly. 

o   Lift with your legs and tighten your stomach muscles.

o   Keep your back straight and do not bend at the waist.

o   Scoop small amounts and walk to where you want to dump the snow.

o   Never remove deep snow all at once, rather shovel an inch or two and repeat.

o   Do not twist your body to shovel or empty the load.  Never throw snow over your shoulder.


These are just a few tips to help prevent injury related to snow removal.  Stop immediately if you feel pain or become fatigued.



  National Safety Council “Snow Shoveling”

  Snow and Ice Management Association “Safe Snow Shoveling”

  American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons  “Orthoinfo: Prevent Snow Shoveling and Snowblowing Injuries”

  Colorado Comprehensive Spine Institute  “In The Bleak Mid-winter: 10 Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling”


5.   “Really Obvious” Safety Clips & “Active Shooter” Videos


Mark Robertson, UNL Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, has developed more “Really Obvious” short clips (one minute or less) on a variety of safety topics:


       No Phishing (cybersecurity-phishing information)

       On Ice (walking safely on ice)

       Flu Shots (CDC recommendation)

       Get Smart (good information in an emergency)

       Passwords (cybersecurity – info on curiously strong passwords)

       Keep Stuff (secure your personal belongings)

       TIPS Reporting (UNL incident reporting system-not for emergencies)

       Walk (walking on/around campus)


Information added to the EHS Core-Emergency Preparedness web-based training in the past few years includes information on “active shooters.”  There are three separate videos accessible through the UNL Emergency Planning and Preparedness web site:

       “Shots Fired on Campus:  When Lightning Strikes”

       Department of Homeland Security “Active Shooter Preparedness”

       “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Event” (English and Spanish)


The Core-Injury and Illness Prevention Plan and Core-Emergency Preparedness web-based trainings (WBT) are required only once during employment. However, these two courses, as with other EHS web-based trainings, are updated regularly.  Therefore it is recommended that these two “Core” courses be retaken periodically.



  Really Obvious  Preparedness  Clips

  Active Shooter videos

  Core-Injury and Illness Prevention Plan WBT

  Core-Emergency Preparedness WBT


6.   Revised Safe Operating Procedures & Training 


Safe Operating Procedure:

  Select Agents

Revised to reflect a change in regulation that exempts certain strains of Francisella tularensis from regulation as a Select Agent 



  Spill Prevention and Countermeasures (SPCC)

Updated the facilities for which oil-handling personnel must take this training and made a minor wording change.


  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Updated to include information on standard laboratory attire (before adding necessary PPE)


  Portable Ladder Safety

Updated to include newly available resources, NIOSH mobile app for use when using extension/straight ladders, and OSHA checklist


  General Electrical Safety (Awareness) Training

  Electrical Safety for BSM Workers

Each updated to include the information that surge protectors are designed for low power applications


  Chemical Safety Training, Unit 1

  Custodial Services:  Chemical & General Safety

  Housing Custodial Operations:  Chemical and General Safety

  Housing Dining Services:  Chemical, General and Equipment Safety

  Maintenance Operations:  Chemical and General Safety

Each updated to reflect new door posting format for both laboratory and non-laboratory spaces.




Environmental Health and Safety

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

3630 East Campus Loop

Lincoln, NE  68583-0824

(402) 472-4925