Physical Hazards

Protecting faculty, staff, and students from occupational physical hazards caused by exposure to excessive temperatures, noise, electrical hazards, falls and falling objects, or confined spaces is best achieved by adopting and implementing the applicable the University of Michigan (U-M), EHS guidelines and by developing, where necessary, departmental programs to address these physical hazards.

Heat Stress

Faculty, staff, and students exposed to temperature extremes or heat indexes above 91°F are at risk of experiencing a heat stress-related incident including heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  Such environments include:

  • Working in temperatures or a heat index above 91°F
  • Working around radiant heat sources
  • Having direct physical contact with hot objects
  • Engaging in strenuous physical activities in hot environments
  • Wearing personal protective equipment

Heat Stress Program

EHS manages the heat stress program for U-M.  The Heat Stress Program provides guidance to help you identify heat stress control measures (engineering and administrative controls, protective clothing, work practices, and training).  For more information, contact EHS at (734) 647-1142.

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals

Heat Stress Guideline

Supplemental Information

Noise

Faculty, staff, and students exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels where the individual must raise their voice to be heard at arm’s length, or to very loud impact or impulse noises, are at risk of sustaining a permanent hearing loss.

Hearing Conservation Program

Faculty, staff, and students exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels (where the individual must raise their voice to be heard at arm’s length) or to very loud impact or impulse noises are at risk of sustaining a permanent hearing loss.  The Hearing Conservation Program helps ensure individuals do not suffer health effects from exposure to excessive noise while at work.  The program is for personnel who EHS has determined are exposed to greater than 85 decibels as an eight hour time weighted average. To request an assessment of workplace noise levels, contact EHS at (734) 647-1142.

The Hearing Conservation Program includes:

  • Workplace and personal exposure monitoring
  • Annual audiometric (hearing) tests
  • Hearing protection devices (ear plugs or ear muffs)
  • Annual training on the:
    • Hazards of noise
    • Purpose of audiometric testing
    • Proper use of hearing protection

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals

Hearing Conservation Guideline

Electrical Hazards

Electricians and other qualified personnel working directly with electricity are at risk of experiencing electrical-related incidents such as explosions, arc flashes, or fires resulting in burns or electrical shock.  Faculty, staff, and students in the area may also be indirectly exposed to hazards through extension cords and power strips.

Electrical Safety Program

The goal of the Electrical Safety Program is to minimize potential electrical hazards by specifying proper use and design characteristics of electrical devices, equipment, and systems.  New electrical equipment must be installed and maintained in accordance with the provisions of the latest edition of the National Electric Code (NEC) NFPA 70.  Only U-M Facilities and Operations staff may authorize modifications or changes to circuits or building equipment.

Flexible extension cords (including GFCI cords) are for short-term use with portable equipment and are never a substitute for permanent wiring.  The use of multi-outlet power strips is limited to computer workstations.

Qualified Workers must use lockout and tagout on appropriate disconnect switches to de-energize electrical power to equipment being worked on.  A lockout/tagout system makes it impossible to energize a piece of equipment while the lock/tag is in place.  For more information about lockout/tagout, contact EHS at (734) 647-1142.

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals

Supplemental Information

Scaffolds, Ladders and Fall Protection

Faculty, the staff, other employees, and students working on elevated working surfaces or ladders four feet or higher, and construction workers working on elevated working surfaces or ladders six feet or higher, are at risk of a fall-related injury.  In addition, these individuals are also at risk of injury when working above dangerous equipment and machinery and from falling objects, electrical hazards, and hazardous weather conditions.

Scaffold, Ladder, and Fall Protection Program

EHS manages the Scaffold, Ladder, and Fall Protection Program at the U-M.  The Program provides guidance about how to safely use:

  • Permanent and temporary elevated structures
  • Scaffolds
  • Ladders and stairs  NOTE: Department supervisors are required to provide training to staff on ladder safety.
  • Aerial lifts  NOTE: Employees who work on aerial platforms must obtain a permit as discussed in the Permitted Equipment Guideline.

For information about scaffolding and fall protection training, contact EHS at (734) 647-1142.

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals

Scaffold, Ladder and Fall Protection Program

Supplemental Information

Confined Spaces

Faculty, staff, other employees, and students working in a confined space are at risk of exposure to serious hazards such as, but not limited to:

  • Hazardous atmospheres
  • Engulfment
  • Entrapment hazards
  • Other serious health and safety hazards (electrical, mechanical, temperature extremes, falls etc.)

A confined space is a space that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is large enough and configured so that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work
  • Has limited or restricted means for entry and exit
  • Is not designed for continuous occupancy

Confined Space Entry Program

EHS developed the Confined Space Entry Program to ensure that individuals receive the training, knowledge, and protective equipment to safely complete their work when working in confined spaces.  For more information about confined the Confined Space Entry Program, contact EHS at (734) 647-1142.

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals

Confined Space Entry guideline

Supplemental Information

Forms

Window Washing

Employees and contractors washing windows or performing maintenance on the inside or outside of the building at elevated heights are at risk of a fall-related injury.

Window Washing and Elevated Interior and Exterior Building Maintenance Program

The Window Washing and Elevated Interior and Exterior Building Maintenance Program ensure that anchor points that have been installed on some of the U-M buildings are used as a secure tie off points for this work and are inspected annually.

This program also applies to other work activities or when an alternative method is selected for window washing.  The U-M Responsible Party must be aware of the work requirements and adhere to the provisions of The Window Washing & Elevated Interior and Exterior Building Maintenance Program to assure safe working conditions.  This includes documentation of anchor point inspections within one year of use, hazardous exhaust worker training, and communication with all affected departments.  For more information and a copy of the inspection report, please contact EHS at (734) 647-1142.

Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, and Manuals

Window Washing and Elevated Interior and Exterior Building Maintenance Guideline

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