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Environmental Health & Safety

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for any of the Environmental Health & Safety training sessions that are offered?

There is no need to pre-register with EH&S for our training sessions. The majority of our training is now offered through Blackboard and MyPath. Other safety training offered by our department is scheduled through the specific departments and supervisors as needed. Contact the main office at 275-3241 with any questions.

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Is EH&S the same as Environmental Services?

No! Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) and Environmental Services are two completely separate departments. If you need housekeeping services you can reach Environmental Services at ext. 5-6255.

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Where do I get information about fire safety?

See the Fire Safety home page or for more student/residential life questions go to the Parent/Student Resource page.

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Who should I contact if I am new here at the University and feel that I am being exposed to hazardous materials?

Health and safety issues can be directed to Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) at x5-3241. The particular concern will then be directed to the appropriate unit for resolution. EH&S has developed policies and plans for many of the hazards present at the University (see our web site at for these plans). These hazards should not pose a hazard to you. However, EH&S should be contacted to check your work location as a precaution.

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Who do I contact if I notice a gas leak from a car?

If you find a car leaking gas, notify Security at ext. 5-3333 or the Parking Lot attendant. Please provide the location of the car, make and model, and license plate if possible.

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Who should I contact if I am concerned about the indoor air quality in my office?

Sometimes adjustments to the HVAC system will improve the air quality. You may contact the Occupational Safety Unit at ext. 5-3241 for an indoor air quality assessment. Placing an indoor air quality meter in the area will allow us to measure carbon dioxide levels (used as an indicator of how much fresh air/air exchanges are occurring), temperature and relative humidity.

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Who should I contact if I'm concerned about the noise levels in my work space?

The Occupational Safety Unit can conduct a noise survey of your area. Contact them at ext. 5-3241.

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What should I do if I notice a strong disagreeable odor in my workplace?

Suspicious odors include those that are not normal for your work location, that can't be identified, or cause employees to feel ill. These odors can include chemical and gas odors. They do NOT include odors from paints, foods or perfumes.

If you detect an odor that persists for more than 10 minutes contact Facilities Dispatch at x34567. Describe the location of the odor, description of the odor and whether the odor is still present in the area. Provide your name, location and telephone number. See the web page on odor complaints - - for more details.

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Who do I contact to assist me if I am uncomfortable while at my workstation?

There are a variety of ergonomic adjustments that can be made to the workstation that address discomfort issues. The Occupational Safety unit has staff who can evaluate your workstations and offer recommendations to make it more ergonomic for you. You may contact the staff at ext. 5-3241. There is also information on our web site on Video Display terminals - - and other ergonomic issues, including the UofRs Ergonomic Program -

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I need to perform a job hazard assessment for my work group. Where can I find more information on how to do this?

The Environmental Health & Safety Occupational Safety home page ( has a link to the Job Hazard Assessment Program which contains detailed information as well as sample forms. You may also contact the Occupational Safety staff at extension 5-3241.

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How do I become a Chematix user?

Your Principal Investigator or the lab's Chematix Supervisor can add you to the roster for your lab following these instructions:

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How and when do I have to register with the UR Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)?

Registration with the IBC is required if you will be working with recombinant DNA molecules. Registration with the IBC is ALSO required if you will be working with or producing a material or agent that requires biosafety level (BSL) 2 or higher containment. Approval of experiments requiring biosafety level 2 or higher containment must be granted by the IBC PRIOR to initiation of these experiments. BSL-1 experiments requiring IBC registration may be initiated simultaneously with IBC registration.

IBC registration instructions can be found under Polices and Procedures off the IBC home page.

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We are in the process of setting up/remodeling our lab space and have questions about fire extinguishers. Who should we contact?

Contact the Fire Marshal's Office at ext. 5-3243 and your question will be directed to the Fire Safety staff member responsible for your area. They will assist you with the extinguisher requirements for your space as well as the proper location and installation if appropriate.

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How often are the fire extinguishers checked to ensure they are still functioning?

The Fire Safety staff schedule monthly inspections of every fire extinguisher to make sure it is in good working condition.

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How do I report a work-related injury or illness?

You need to complete the form on the website When you submit the information, the completed form is automatically sent to both Environmental Health & Safety and the Leave Administration Workers' Compensation office.

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Should I report a near miss incident?

Yes! Reporting a near miss incident is important because it allows us to try to get the hazard fixed before someone gets hurt. For example, a person recently reported that the individual almost got hit by insulation that was falling from a rooftop during a construction project. We were able to rope off the area in time to prevent a pedestrian from actually getting hit. We welcome all efforts to proactively avoid accidents! For more information on reporting near miss incidents see our web page - Near Miss Reporting

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When an employee is accidentally stuck with a needle, why are there so many questions asked in following up on the incident?

The numerous questions following a needlestick enable us to maximize the aid available to the employee, to identify corrective actions to prevent similar experiences for other employees, and to maintain legal compliance. The Exposure Hotline at University Health Services (x5-1164) asks questions to determine the risk involved for the employee. The Employee Incident Form collects information for two primary reasons. First, the EH&S department evaluates the circumstances surrounding the needlestick to identify opportunities to reduce similar episodes. Second, data is collected to satisfy legal requirements. For instance, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires us to maintain a Sharps Injury Log for all percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps. The information required by the Sharps Injury Log includes the type and brand of device involved in the incident, the location where the incident occurred and an explanation of how the incident occurred.

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Where can I get a sharps container?

Contact University Purchasing for vendor information or your individual department stock room.

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Are there specific requirements to have a tent for a function at the University?

The Fire Safety Unit has established guidelines that must be followed for the use of tents on any of University property. These guidelines address such issues as flame resistance, floor coverings, exits and capacity. Please refer to our web page or contact the Fire Safety Unit at ext. 5-3243 for additional information.

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Do I have to use a caterer on the catering list for University sponsored or paid for food events?

Please refer to the University Sanitarian's Office - Food Events for information on the process for food events and the use of caterers.

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When is the approved caterers list changed?

The list is reviewed annually by the Sanitarian's Office. Requests from vendors to be added to the list are not accepted. Changes to this list must come from strong internal demand or special need.

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What do I do if I find a bat inside the building or other animal where it doesnt belong?

Call the Pest Control Unit immediately at ext. 5-3242. If possible, watch the animal so that if it moves out of the area, you can inform the Pest Control technician of the changed location.

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Do you pick up dead animals found on University property and roads?

Unless the Pest Control Unit was involved in trapping the animal, we are not responsible for cleaning up. You should contact Facilities Grounds.

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Why do we have this pest problem (roaches, ants, flies, mice, etc.)?

The problem is most commonly related to sanitation practices, or lack there of, or structural problems that have not been addressed. Contact the Pest Control Unit at ext. 5-3242 whenever a problem is noted. They can assist you in handling the immediate infestation as well as providing guidance in preventing future occurrences.

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I work in the hospital. What should be done if a patient or belongings are infested with bugs?

Notify Pest Control immediately. Double bag the patients belongings and hold them and the patient at the location where the problem was first noticed if possible. Although you may want to send the person and possessions out of your area, please don't. This just spreads the problem out. Insects in a patient area are a priority call for us and our policy is to provide an immediate response.

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I broke a fever thermometer that contained mercury. Can I be over-exposed to mercury? What actions should I take to clean up the mercury?

Environmental Health & Safety recommends the use of mercury free products both at the University and in your homes. There is a potential exposure to mercury from fever thermometers, especially if incorrect actions were taken for the clean up.

Actions that should be taken should you break a thermometer at home include:

  1. Mercury vapors are generated when mercury is spilled. Minimize exposure to people by removing children from the immediate area. Remove any jewelry before attempting to clean up mercury and wear a pair of latex gloves to prevent dermal exposure. When removing spilled mercury, keep your face as far away from the mercury as possible to minimize your potential inhalation exposure.
  2. If the mercury is on a flat surface, use a piece of paper, such as a 3"x5" card and "herd" the mercury together. Place the collected mercury into a bottle for disposal. To remove the mercury from cracks, use tape. Press either duct tape or cellophane tape onto the mercury and gently lift. Fold the tape onto itself to contain the mercury and place the tape into the waste bottle.
  3. If the mercury is spilled onto a rug, there is little that can be done. If the rug is new, it may be possible to remove the mercury from the rug by using an eyedropper. If the rug is old or the mercury droplets are extremely small, that section of the rug needs to be disposed of. NEVER use a broom or a regular vacuum to clean up mercury - these actions can result in the release of significant mercury vapors. Never throw the collected mercury or contaminated rug into regular trash.
  4. Any collected mercury should be placed into a bottle that can be sealed with a tight fitting top to prevent the mercury vapors from being released. At home the container can be disposed of through the Monroe County Household Hazardous Waste Facility (Monroe County residents only!). For additional information, contact the Monroe County Health Department at 274-6052.

Actions that should be taken should you break a thermometer at work include those listed above. However, since thermometers are used for a variety of purposes, your location may influence your actions and disposal process. Follow the recommendations listed on our web site at If you need additional information, contact the Occupational Safety Unit at ext. 5-3241.

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I have concerns about the general cleanliness or sanitation of a classroom, work area or living space. What can I do?

The Sanitarian's Office takes responsibility for ensuring the University Community has a clean, sanitary and healthy environment. If you can't solve the problem by first dealing with the party causing or contributing to the concern, either contact the Sanitarian's Office at 275-3241 or fill out the complaint form found on the Sanitarian's Office web page.

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The tap water does not seem right. Why does it taste, look or smell funny?

The University's water comes from Hemlock Lake which has a relatively new and sophisticated treatment plant. In addition, the water is tested at various points along the distribution system by the City Water Bureau and the Monroe County Health Department with some testing done routinely from University buildings. The tests consistently show there are no issues with biological, chemical or physical contaminants. This does not guarantee that at any moment in time there could not be a concern with the water coming from the lake, the public distribution system or from our own internal piping.

The Sanitarian's Office will investigate concerns and will have the tap water source tested by either the City or a private lab if deemed necessary. Before requesting testing, there has to be enough evidence that there is a health concern based on the Sanitarian's Office experience. In the vast majority of cases, it is an aesthetic issue, not a health issue, as sediment in the pipes is stirred up due to maintenance or repairs of water lines. Sometimes even lack of use in low volume areas after a long weekend will cause this. Also, during the summer there could be an algae bloom in the lake that can contribute to an off taste.

See the Sanitarian's Office Drinking Water Safety for additional information. If you continue to have concerns with the domestic water, please contact the Sanitarian's Office at 275-3241 or fill out the complaint form found on the web page.

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Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 2/23/2017. Disclaimer.