In this issue of the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Listserv – December 9, 2020


  1. Slips, Trips & Falls in Winter
  2. Holiday Safety
  3. Safety Shorts – Holiday Safety Tips
  4. Situational Preparedness –Safe Holiday Driving 
  5. Please Help Us Help You
  6. Revised Safe Operating Procedure



  1. Slips, Trips & Falls in Winter


According to the National Safety Council, more than 25,000 slips, trips, and falls happen every day in the United States – one every 17 minutes.  Winter poses a unique challenge to preventing slips, trips, and falls. Areas to consider are:



We think of snow as being a potential slip/trip/fall hazard, but frost or even rain can lead to slippery conditions.  Start a hazard mitigation strategy by evaluating any uneven area or hard-to-see curbs or steps. Check illumination in parking lots and on sidewalks since days are shorter. Being able to see well is important for navigating areas prone to ice. Sufficient walk-off matting should be installed inside building entrances to reduce tracked-in water/snow and debris. 


Removing snow and ice from all exterior walking areas helps avoid potentially hazardous situations.  Notice where water tends to puddle up or snow tends to drift and tend to these areas to prevent slippery surfaces. Remember loading docks where workers and perhaps carts need to traverse.  Staircases outdoors should be visible with reflective tape to mark hard-to-see surfaces and ideally have an anti-slip tread or strip.


Complete a safety walk around your facility and parking lot weekly or in adverse weather, paying attention to any changes since the last inspection, seasonal changes, spills or stray objects that have appeared to minimize the chance of an injury slip, trip or fall.


Finally, prepare yourself:




Ø  OH&S “Gearing Up for Slip, Trip and Fall Season”  

Ø  OSHA Preventing Slips on Snow and Ice

Ø  EHS Safe Operating Procedure (SOP), Slips, Trips, Falls – Reducing Risk and Avoiding Injury


  1. Holiday Safety 


The festive holiday season is underway.  To keep the season festive, think about safety during your preparations and activities. Here are some tips to avoid hazards and keep the holiday season “merry.”

Hanging lights/decorations:



Electrical hazards:



Fire safety:



These are just a few tips to help keep you safe during the holidays. Look around your home for other hazards.



  1. Safety Shorts – Holiday Safety Tips


This series features links to short safety resource(s) each month. The focus this month is holiday safety.  More than 15,000 injuries related to holiday decorating result in emergency room visits.  NFPA reports that U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 230 home fires involving Christmas trees.  Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the United States.


(DoitBest, duration 8:47 minutes)


(Electrical Safety Foundation International ESFI, duration 3:04 minutes)


NOTE: Resources are provided for informational purposes only.  Publication does not in any way endorse a particular company or product or affect current UNL policies and procedures.


  1. Situational Preparedness – Safe Holiday Driving


Situational preparedness is so important that we will be looking at various aspects over time, as well as providing resources to assist you to “be prepared” for whatever situations you may encounter at UNL.  Distracted driving remains one of the primary causes of injury incidents.

The holiday season is known for being merry and bright, but it is also known for being the deadliest season when it comes to impaired driving. Almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes every day – that’s one person every 50 minute. In 2018, there were 10,511 people killed in drunk-driving crashes — almost a third of all traffic fatalities nationwide. While there is some fluctuation in numbers from year to year, drunk driving continues to be a major problem. The holidays prove to be an especially dangerous time on the roads, as people are enjoying office parties and festivities and, sadly, making the deadly decision to drive after drinking.  The statistics are clear: The holiday season is a dangerous time for people out on the roads. It is important that those considering driving after drinking know there are deadly consequences to their actions.

To keep people safe on the roads, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to make sure this busy travel period is a safe one, which is why all are invited to team up for the nationwide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign from December 18, 2020, through January 1, 2021, to help put a stop to impaired driving.

Drunk driving isn’t the only risk on the road: Among several others, drug-impaired driving is also a danger on America’s roads. If drivers are impaired by any substance — alcohol or other drugs — they should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle. We want to remind drivers that driving while impaired is illegal, period. Help spread this important message: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DUI.


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Here are a few more ways to avoid becoming a statistic while traveling this holiday season:


Following these guidelines during travel near and far during the holiday season will help you have a “merry and bright” experience.





  1. 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. 


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.


  1. Revised Safe Operating Procedure


Revised title to remove explicit mention of recombinant and synthetic nucleic acids. Clarified that PPE mitigates the risk of exposure during spill clean-up.  Explicitly declared the need for a spill kit in all labs that use or store biohazardous materials.  Reorganized the guidance to provide separate general spill clean-up guidance for most biohazardous materials and also provide enhanced procedures for materials that require BSL-2 containment practices and procedures.  Updated guidance to allow for use of disinfectants besides bleach.  Ensured contact time guidance was consistent throughout the document.  Clarified that expiration dates must be added to disinfectants in spill kits.



Environmental Health and Safety

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

3630 East Campus Loop

Lincoln, NE  68583-0824

(402) 472-4925

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