In this issue of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Listserv – November 6, 2019


1.    The Power of Permeable Pavers

2.    Walking and Working in Cold, Snow & Ice (Including Carbon Monoxide Dangers)

3.    Safety Posters  – Winter Navigation

4.    REVISED Biosafety Door Postings SOP

5.    Please Help Us Help You

6.    Revised Safe Operating Procedures



1.   The Power of Permeable Pavers


The parking lots that are being installed near the entrance to the Devaney Gymnastics Training Facility contain five sections of permeable pavers that capture and treat parking lot pollutants conveyed by stormwater. The five sections of permeable pavers have a total treated volume of 3,200 cubic feet of stormwater.

The permeable pavers are specifically designed to allow stormwater to percolate through the pavers and settle in an aggregate layer that is located beneath. Once the water level in the aggregate layer reaches the designed height it will then seep into the drainage tile system and leave the site through the stormwater conveyance system. This process is effective at removing different types of pollutants such as sediments/solids, nutrients, and total metals that would otherwise be discharged to receiving bodies of water downstream.

The permeable pavers are just one of many different ways that we can reduce UNL’s stormwater impact to our lakes and streams here in Nebraska. To find out more about how UNL reduces its stormwater impact visit the UNL Stormwater Management website. There you will find information regarding some of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) UNL uses around campus as well as the permit that allows us to discharge stormwater to Waters of the State. You will also find a link to the Stormwater Pollution Reporter tool that you can use if you suspect a stormwater quality issue on campus.



  UNL Stormwater Management Plan


  UNL Stormwater Pollution Reporter


2.   Walking and Working in Cold, Snow & Ice (Including Carbon Monoxide Dangers)


Walking and working in snowy/icy/cold conditions are the focus of this article.  Let’s begin by reviewing suggestions for “walking.”  Walking around campus or from your vehicle/bus to your workplace during the winter can be hazardous. Every winter, slip/trip/fall injuries at UNL attributed to snow and ice account for approximately 3% of the overall number of injuries in a given year.  That may not sound like much…until YOU are one of the injured. 


Winter Walking.  Just like winter driving, winter walking requires anticipation.  Think "defensive walking.”  Follow these guidelines to help avoid injury:

         Use appropriate footwear for the surface/conditions.  Avoid slick-soled shoes. Wear boots/shoes/overshoes with grip soles such as rubber or neoprene composite.

         Plan ahead to give yourself sufficient time to reach your destination.

         Plan your route and watch where you walk.  Avoid routes that have not been cleared or appear glazed over. 

         Avoid carrying large/heavy/awkwardly-shaped objects that can obstruct your view or affect your balance or center of gravity. Consider a backpack instead.

         Use special care in parking lots.  Try to park in areas free of ice.  When entering/exiting your vehicle, use your vehicle for support.

         Think about the walking surfaces whenever you move about campus, especially following sunny days.  Some areas previously cleared may have partially thawed and refrozen, especially near the edges, leaving a glaze of ice.

         Use caution when entering a building as any snow left on your footwear will thaw with the building heat. Notice if the floor is wet from previous entrants.  Avoid such indoor wet areas and if they cannot be avoided, traverse them the same as you would walk on ice. Contact Custodial Services to inquire about equipping areas prone to track-in with walk-off mats.

         Pay complete attention to your walking.  Don’t talk on the phone or text, search for items in your purse/briefcase, get distracted by greetings/conversation, thinking ahead to events of the upcoming day, etc.

         Always use “defensive walking” techniques. Watch for hazards like black ice.


If you must walk on slippery surfaces:

         Take short steps or shuffle your feet.  Walk more slowly so you can react quickly to a change in traction.

         Bend slightly as you walk to keep your center of gravity over your feet.  Curl your toes under and walk as “flat-footed” as possible.

         Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them before proceeding.

         Avoid uneven areas and stepping up/down onto icy areas such as from curbs.

         Keep your hands out of your pockets.  Use your arms for balance. Imagine you are going to “walk like a penguin.”


Resources Specific to Winter Walking:


  Snow & Ice Management Association “Safe Winter Walking”

  UNL Emergency Preparedness “Really Obvious: On Ice”

  Walk Like a Penguin (AHSChannel, duration 1:37)


Winter Working.  Next, let’s look at “working outdoors.”  There are a number of hazards associated with working outside in cold weather. Be aware of potential hazards, their warning signs, and how to avoid the hazard so you can safely navigate this winter season.


         Hypothermia.  In cold weather, your body may lose heat faster than it is produced.  Prolonged exposure will eventually use up all your body’s stored energy, resulting in an abnormally low body temperature.  If low body temperature affects your brain, you may not be able to think clearly or realize you are in trouble.  Warning signs include shivering, fatigue, and loss of coordination.  

         Frostbite.  Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing, characterized by reduced blood flow, leading to lack of feeling and color in the affected body parts.  Most often the body parts affected are nose, fingers, toes, ears, cheeks or chin.  Warning signs include numbness, aching, tingling or stinging, bluish or pale skin, and skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.

         Chilblains.  Repeatedly exposing skin to cold temperatures can cause permanent damage to groups of small blood vessels in the skin, characterized by redness and itching that return with subsequent exposures.  Body parts most often affected are cheeks, ears, fingers, and toes.  Warning signs include redness, itching, blistering/ulcers, and inflammation.


Prevention is always the best policy to avoid cold stress.  Here are some precautions workers should take if they must work in extreme cold:

         Wear appropriate clothing.  Layered clothing, loose and not too tight, provides insulation yet allows good blood circulation.    Wear footwear designed for cold, wet conditions.

         Cover your head to reduce body heat loss.  Protect ears, face, hands, and feet.

         Try to schedule work for the warmest/driest/least windy part of the day.  Take regular breaks in a warm, dry, and protected area. Limit the total amount of time outside during extremely cold weather. 

         Do not touch cold metal surfaces with bare skin.

         Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially warm fluids.  Avoid drinks with sugar and/or caffeine.

         Avoid exhaustion or fatigue, because energy is necessary to keep muscles warm.

         Be aware of any medications you are taking might make you more susceptible to cold stress.  Certain medical conditions also increase your risk:  diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease.

         Monitor your physical condition and that of your co-workers.  You may not be aware of warning signs that a co-worker would be able to observe. 


A National Weather Service Wind Chill Chart will help you evaluate temperature/wind combinations to work more safely outdoors when the weather is cold.


Other wintertime hazards, often related to snow cleanup, but also applicable in other outdoor work situations are:

         Lacerations or amputations from improperly attempting to clear jams in snow removal equipment. Make certain all powered equipment is properly guarded, isolated from power sources, and all parts have stopped moving before performing maintenance or attempting to clear a jam. 

         Strains and sprains from the prolonged or improper use of shovels or other snow removal equipment. Keep in mind-body movement and positioning.  Avoid overexertion. 


Resources Specific to Working Outdoors:


  EHS Safe Operating Procedure Cold Stress

  National Weather Service (NWS) Wind Chill Chart

  OSHA.  “Cold Stress Quick Card: Protecting Workers from  Cold Stress

  OSHA “Winter Weather:  Plan. Equip. Train.”

  Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).    “Cold Stress.”

  Iowa State University Environmental Health and Safety “Winter Driving”


Carbon Monoxide = Danger!  Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness or death.  It is found in fumes produced by burning fuel in cars, trucks, gas grills, furnaces…and other engines.   Most common symptoms of CO exposure are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.  These symptoms are like the flu.  Too much CO can make you pass out or kill you.


Some tips to prevent CO poisoning:

         Do not operate fuel-burning tools/equipment/machines (e.g., camp stoves, heaters, forklifts, power washers, generators, etc.) indoors. Use battery or electric powered alternatives.

         Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from idling vehicles or use of gasoline or kerosene-powered heaters or generators in an inadequately ventilated area.  Avoid idling vehicles or gasoline-powered equipment in garages or near buildings where the air-intake may allow exhaust to enter the building. 

         Install a CO detector and regularly test the unit/change batteries.

         Have your gas-powered home heating system serviced by a qualified technician yearly.

         Make sure gas-powered appliances are vented properly.

         Never use a gas range/oven for heating.

         Never burn charcoal indoors.

         Never leave a vehicle idling in a garage, even if the garage door is open.


NOTE:  Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.


Resources Specific to Carbon Monoxide

  CDC “Frequently Asked Questions:  Carbon Monoxide”

  OSHA (Carbon Monoxide) Fact Sheet

  Cedars Sinai “Carbon Monoxide Poisoning”


3.   Safety Posters – Winter Navigation


EHS has a developed a number of safety posters of relevance to the campus community. The three posters highlighted this month serve as handy reminders about different aspects of winter surface navigation:  going into and out of buildings, getting into and out of vehicles, walking around campus including navigation of steps. It is recommended that you post all three.



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Order your FREE posters today.  Contact [log in to unmask] or 402-472-4925 with your name, campus mailing address, and quantity desired.


         Safety Posters


4.   REVISED Biohazard Door Postings SOP 


The Biohazard Door Postings SOP has been revised to reflect recent changes in the format of these postings:


        For BSL-2 research, clinical and teaching labs, the biohazard information will now be combined with the standard EHS door placard to provide one posting rather than two separate postings.  EHS will replace the old postings with this new version as we conduct safety surveys over the next 6-12 months.


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Sample: Human Biohazards                  Sample: HIV Research


        The formatting for door postings for animal spaces with biohazards have also been slightly revised. 


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Sample on left: Human & Animal Biohazards        

Sample on right:  Animal Only Biohazard


        Finally, the formatting and content of door postings for greenhouse spaces with plant pests as well as laboratories that require signage due to USDA-APHIS permit conditions have been updated to align with regulatory requirements. 


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Sample: Plant Pathogen/Pest Signage



If updates are needed to these postings for your lab, animal or greenhouse space you can contact EHS at [log in to unmask] to get new postings generated.




          Biohazard Door Postings


5.      Please Help Us Help You


Environmental Health and Safety is committed to excellent customer service and offers a Customer Satisfaction Survey as an easy method for the campus community to provide feedback on our services and staff.  By taking a few moments to complete the survey (, you will be helping us to identify areas where we might need to focus our attention to better serve you. 


In order to effectively evaluate potential areas for improvement, please provide specific information or examples and your name and contact information.  The Director, Brenda Osthus, follows up on all submissions. We greatly appreciate your participation.


Please feel free to contact Brenda Osthus, EHS Director, at 402-472-4927 or [log in to unmask] if you would rather communicate outside the parameters of this survey.


6.   Revised Safe Operating Procedures 


         Storm Water Pollution Prevention SOPs

SOPs in this section were changed to reflect the new name for the State Agency (Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, formerly Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality). Other changes made to improve readability, clarity etc.


         Toxicology and Exposure SOP

Updated toxicity categories to be consistent with the Globally Harmonized System of classification (GHS). Reworded SOP to remove redundancies and improve readability.





Environmental Health and Safety

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

3630 East Campus Loop

Lincoln, NE  68583-0824

(402) 472-4925

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