Supplemental Safety Instruction for the Department of Internal Medicine

OSHA Safety Rules make a difference in workplace safety. 5,214 workers died on the job in 2008 as compared to 4,609 workers killed on the job in 2011. Since 1970, workplace fatalities have been reduced by more than 65 percent and occupational injury and illness rates have declined by 67 percent. At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled. Because of overwhelming preference for on-line training, the following module will try to present safety information quickly and succinctly.

The following information is tailored to Internal Medicine's employees in Building's 1, 2, 5, 119, and 178 on the VA Campus. ETSU Health and Safety requires every employee to complete a yearly series of on-line safety modules to maintain your OSHA compliance. These gentle reminders help us retain safety information pertinent to our jobs.

If you are a laboratory employee or have a scientific position, you should have taken 4 other modules:

  1. Lab Safety
  2. Hazardous Waste
  3. Hazard Communication Standard
  4. Portable Fire Extinguishers

If you are in a non-scientific position, you should have completed the following modules:

  1. Portable Fire Extinguishers
  2. Hazard Communications Standard

If you have not taken these modules, please notify Kenton Hall or Angie Metcalf. We will get you set up with Health and Safety.

In addition to the above module's information, we want to remind all employees of some basic safety rules.

Internal Medicine tries very hard to maintain a safe work environment. It is part of everyone's job description to see that this safe work area exists. If you see something lying in the floor that could cause a slip or fall, pick it up or notify Kenton of a potential hazard. If someone spills liquid, such as tea, coffee or water, that could cause someone to slip and fall, wipe it up or call Kenton for help. We have absorbent materials if a large liquid spill occurs. If an object (such as a cart or box) has been placed in a walkway and now causes a tripping hazard, either move it to a safer location or notify Kenton. If you see a dangerous situation in the laboratories, even if it is not in an Internal Medicine room, notify Kenton. Since we spend at least 37.5 hours a week working for ETSU, about a quarter of your life is spent on the VA Campus. It just makes sense that we should do everything we can to make our work environment as safe as possible.

If you visit the Research Labs:

  1. I want you to be aware that there are CHEMICALS present that can harm you. (Acids, bases, caustics, oxidizers, etc.)
  2. There are PHYSICAL items that could harm you. (UV light, hot temps, cold temps, sharp objects, etc.)
  3. There are BIOLOGICAL agents that can cause infections. (Tissue culture of human cells, bacteria, viruses, various live animal species, etc.)

Special Clothing Rules

"Office ONLY" workers can wear clothing and shoes allowed by ETSU and appropriate for a professional office. Laboratory workers must follow certain rules based on OSHA Safety Regulations.

Laboratory workers (and visitors to the laboratories) should wear clothing and shoes that reflect and are appropriate for the job they are doing. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided for any specialized job in the department. In the labs, wear shoes that cover your feet and offer protection from falling objects and spills. No open toe shoes such as sandals or flip flops are allowed in Internal Medicine Research Laboratories.

Heels Sandals and open shoes may be fine for an office environment. They are NOT allowed in the research laboratories due to the risk of injury.

We try to maintain all types of PPE in the Department of Internal Medicine.

When designing experiments, please include the appropriate PPE needed for your safety in your procedure manual. Most experiments will require a lab coat and gloves at a minimum. If there is a risk of a chemical or biological splash, eye protection would also be required.

Face Shields The Department of Internal Medicine stocks safety glasses, face shields, masks, goggles and other devices to protect your face from exposure to a chemical or biological agent.

In case of an accidental splash into the eyes, all labs have been outfitted with an eyewash station. The correct procedure calls for washing the eyes for 15-20 minutes if a chemical splash occurs. At that time, we can decide whether further treatment is necessary. Health and Safety will help determine how detrimental the splash could be to your health.

Eye Wash Eye washes are available for any type of substance that splashes into the eye. You need to hold your eyes open in the water for 15-20 minutes.

If there is an accident where you are covered in a dangerous chemical or where your clothing catches fire, we have SAFETY SHOWERS located in nearly all Internal Medicine labs. Additional showers are located in the hallways.

Every building housing Internal Medicine labs has safety showers and eye washes that can be reached in seconds if an accident should occur. Make sure you are so familiar with the locations of these safety showers that you could find them with your eyes closed. Your well-being may depend upon it!

Shower The correct procedure for using a safety shower:
  1. Yell for assistance & Pull the handle.
  2. Get under the water!
  3. Remove clothing - being body shy and refusing to remove clothing can be the difference between 1st degree burns and 3rd degree burns or worse.

After using the safety shower, you may want to use the enclosed showers on the east end of building 119 (2nd floor) to remove any lingering chemicals. Building 178 has showers on the ground floor. If a serious injury has occurred, we will call 911 to have emergency care here as quickly as possible

Internal Medicine Offices

If you are doing a job in the offices that might get you stained with toner or inks, we can provide gloves and a plastic apron for your protection. If you are working with lots of stiff paper, a pair of thin gloves might prevent paper cuts and skin abrasions

Aprons The Department of Internal Medicine stocks PPE of many types. These are available to the office staff as well as our laboratory employees and students.

In order to be more comfortable and avoid repetitive motion injuries, look for ergonomic ways to improve your work station. Adjust your computer screen and chair height to the proper places to prevent neck and back strain. Take a short break and look way from the computer screen to prevent eye fatigue. Stretch legs and arms periodically to prevent muscle fatigue.

If your job evolves and has new risks .......
Please see Kenton or ask ETSU Health & Safety to determine what PPE are required to maintain your safety.

Wash Your Hands

One of the simplest actions to prevent the spread of disease or chemical contamination is to wash your hands! Wash Thoroughly - use soap, wash well for 20 seconds minimum and then rinse.

Wash Washing hands for 20 seconds or more can prevent spreading germs or chemicals to others.

How do you keep your hands disinfected when you do not have water and soap at your desk? Use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Look for solutions with 60% alcohol or higher. Squirt solution onto hands and rub thoroughly. Allow to dry. Do not wipe off with a towel or rinse hands with water. The solution is designed to kill bacteria as the liquid dries on the skin.

Sanitizer Alcohol based hand sanitizers are available for use any time washing with water is not practical.
Do not rinse hands after using these products. They are not designed to be used with water.

Accidents at ETSU

Thank goodness accidents are few and far between here at ETSU. But OSHA asks us to think ahead and pre-plan our reactions should an accident occur.

Bumps and Bruises may be the most common accidents. Treatment may be a simple as using an icepack or as serious as medical attention if the person has a preexisting hematological disorder where blood does not clot properly.
Cuts and Scrapes can require just disinfection and a bandage or stitches in the emergency room.
Allergies can be as mild as a sniffle or rash or so severe as to be life threatening. The two most common severe allergies we have encountered in the department are associated with Bee Stings and Latex. People with sensitivities to stings or latex usually carry an epi-pen in case of exposure. A trip to the hospital is usually prescribed after epi-pen use. Keeping windows closed so that insects can't get into the building is probably the best precaution to keep bees out. Removing latex items from the room where a latex-sensitive person is working is a good precautionary step. Be aware that latex molecules can remain in a room where latex gloves have been used in the past. So care should be taken to notify all workers of potential latex exposure when they start to work in Internal Medicine.
Exposure to a serious Bloodborne Pathogen such as HIV or any of the Hepatitis viruses will get you an immediate evaluation by an infectious disease physician. Appropriate treatment will follow.
Broken Bones get you a quick trip to the emergency room for treatment.
Heart Attack treatment may include using the DEFIBRILLATOR located in building 119 near the elevator next to the loading dock. We will also call for emergency services to get you to the hospital asap.
An Unresponsive Person will also get a visit to the hospital via emergencies services.

If you are injured - notify Angie or Kenton immediately. If we are not available - call 911 if medical treatment is necessary.

So in review - What happens if there is an accident
If you need a Band-Aid - we have you covered.
If you need a doctor - we can do that too.
If you need to visit the hospital - we will arrange it.
YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY are the ONLY THINGS THAT CONCERNS US when an accident occurs here at work.

What happens after an accident?
All accidents (and near misses) must be reported to your supervisor.
The accident must also be reported to the Lab Manager or Office Manager.
Paperwork must go to Human Resources.
OSHA demands yearly public reporting of accidents at each workplace.

Employees are required to convene a meeting to see if the accident could have been prevented. Recommendations must be submitted to prevent another similar accident from occurring. These recommendations become part of our standard operating procedures. This procedure provides continuous improvements to our safety methods in Internal Medicine.

Violence in the workplace. Violence is very rare at ETSU, but here are some examples to consider.

One form is the BOMB THREAT. If you are the person that happens to answer the phone when a threat is made, ETSU would like you to remain as calm as possible and ask the caller some questions.
Ask the person their name?
Ask when the bomb will explode?
Ask why they placed the bomb here?
Ask if they know they may be harming many innocent people?
Take notes about the call.
What was the gender of the caller?
Did the caller have an accent?
Did the caller sound educated?
Was the caller calm or excited or angry?
Did the caller have slurred speech?
Were there any background noises over the phone?

Then notify ETSU Safety department by calling 911. Relate all the information you gathered. The Safety division will make further decisions about building evacuation.

Another form of violence would be a physical attack. The vast majority of cases do not involve one employee injuring another employee. Most workplace violence occurs when a family member comes onto campus and brings a personal argument to a public space. Either way - Employees can be terminated for these types of fights. You would be endangering the rest of the staff when an abusive or violent family member comes into the workplace.

Assault and robbery have occurred on or near campus in the past. If you are working late and have misgivings about walking to your car after dark, contact ETSU Safety, they can provide an escort to get you to your vehicle safely. Call 439-4480 for this service.

Public Safety

Warninf System A community wide warning system has been put in place by ETSU; you can see the tower in the yard behind the Medical Library
Also notice the red emergency phone tower in the foreground. These contain a button to summon police if there is an emergency or if you feel threatened.

In order to increase safety awareness, ETSU has a page of safety information on its website. Look for the link titled SAFETY at the top of the home page to access the information. Or just go to

One of the most visible aspects of this safety campaign is the siren installed on tall towers around campus. There is one prominently located in the yard behind the Medical Library on the VA Campus. Warnings, including dangerous weather situations, mandatory evacuations and serious campus situations requiring a sheltering location or a lockdown, will be broadcast over the outdoor warning towers. These warnings will also be displayed on your ETSU computers. You can also sign up for cell phone notifications of emergencies.

If there is an emergency situation - you may want to dial 911 on your phones to get help. If you dial 911 from an ETSU phone, you will reach ETSU Public Safety. If you dial 911 on your cell phone, you will reach the Washington County 911 service. ETSU Public Safety may provide a quicker response because of their close proximity.

ETSU has also installed 7 EMERGENCY PHONE TOWERS on the VA Campus. These towers let you summon police if you feel threatened. They are located on or near ETSU parking lots.

In Conclusion

Maintaining a safe work place should be a top priority for every one working in the Department of Internal Medicine. By following a few simple rules and caring about our fellow workers, we can have years with no serious accidents.

If you have recommendations or suggestions for additional safety measures that Internal Medicine should consider, please bring these to Kenton at your convenience.