The Athabasca Joint Worksite Health and Safety Committee met in Athabasca two weeks ago. One of the duties of the OHS committee is to inspect the worksite on a quarterly basis to identify hazards and recommend ways to eliminate or control the hazards.
The committee took the opportunity to inspect the ARC building. The committee was joined by staff from facilities who offered useful advice and commentary. By the end of the inspection, seven hazards were identified as having the potential to cause injury.
Several staff identified concerns about their current desk and chair arrangements. These staff were directed to fill out an ergonomic assessment request form (see below for link).
A power bar located immediately beside a kettle was moved to prevent a short circuit. An assessment of the electrical load on that circuit will take place.
Two spaces where staff frequently work alone were identified. Working alone means help may unavailable in the event of an injury or medical episode. An immediate administrative control was implemented. Discussion of an engineering control will take place at the November OHS committee meeting.
Several staff identified a recurring sewer-like smell, possibly resulting from the traps in bathroom floor drains drying out. Discussion about how to prevent the reoccurrence of this issue will take place at the November OHS committee meeting
Approximately five offices had very narrow exits due to the position of furnishing or other materials. These narrow exits could create tripping hazards and/or interfere with emergency exit from the building. Additional research into the required width of exit passageways was required and the issue will be addressed at the November OHS committee meeting.
Debris blocking the west loading dock exit of the ARC building was flagged and cleaned up by facilities. This debris included mixed hazardous substances.
Several tripping hazards were identified as requiring remedy. Ironically, many were anti-fatigue mats stored such that they interfered with walkways.
Approximately 30 seven-foot bookshelves were identified as tippy and creating the potential for a crushing hazard. Other shelves had items stored on top, making the shelves even more tippy. The construction of the ARC building may preclude the effective use of straps or brackets, suggesting lower or more stable shelves may be required.
These hazards and potential control strategies will be discussed at the November meeting of the joint committee. Additionally, the committee will discuss concern about the locking of the inner gym door in the main building after hours and improvements to AU’s OHS training materials for new staff.
Additional inspections of the rest of the campus will take place over the next few months.
If you have a concern about a workplace hazard or need to report a near miss or injury, you can fill out the required form here.
You can also contact the union representatives on the Athabasca OHS committee:
If you wish to request an ergonomic assessment, you can fill out the required form here.
Rhiannon Rutherford and Bob Barnetson
AUFA Worksite Health and Safety Committee Members, Athabasca