General Health & Safety

WSU employees, as part of their job duties and/or work environment, may encounter a wide variety of workplace hazards.  To protect yourself and other employees, it is important to gain an awareness of potential hazards on campus, how to protect yourself from these hazards, and university policies related to these hazards.  The safety guidelines provided below serve as a foundation for a safe work environment and ensure the well-being of all individuals involved.  Carefully review each guideline and familiarize yourself with the potential hazards associated with your specific job tasks.  It is crucial for all employees to thoroughly review this information and gain an understanding of WSU safety guidelines, procedures, and emergency response protocols.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the safety information presented here, do not hesitate to ask your supervisor for clarification.  Additionally, you will receive more in-depth training on job specific safety topics to ensure you are fully equipped to handle specific hazards and work safely in your environment.

Never perform any work that you deem unsafe or beyond your training and authorization.  Always prioritize your safety and the safety of your colleagues by adhering to established safety procedures, using appropriate personal protective equipment, and reporting any unsafe conditions or practices immediately.  Your commitment to safety, along with the collective efforts of your colleagues, can significantly reduce workplace accidents and injuries.  Remember, safety is an ongoing process, and it requires the dedication and vigilance of everyone involved.

Health and Safety Topic Health and Safety Topic
Housekeeping Lead Safety
Confined Space Occupational Noise
Electrical Hazards Personal Protection Equipment
Powered Equipment Eye Protection
Fall Protection Respiratory Protection
Walkway and Working Surfaces Power Outage
Chemical Safety Tornado/Severe Weather
Asbestos Awareness Medical Emergencies
  Heat Stress Program


  • Regularly clean and organize your work area to prevent tripping hazards, clutter, and accumulation of debris.  Properly store materials and equipment to maintain a tidy and safe work environment.
  • Dispose of waste in designated containers and follow proper waste disposal procedures.  Avoid leaving trash or debris scattered around the workplace to maintain a clean and organized environment.
  • Clean up spills and messes immediately to prevent slips and falls.  Use appropriate spill cleanup materials and follow established procedures to ensure proper sanitation and hazard control.
  • If you notice any unsafe housekeeping conditions, such as excessive clutter, slippery surfaces, or improper waste disposal, report them to your supervisor immediately.  Timely reporting helps prevent accidents and maintain a safe work environment.
  • Actively participate in maintaining a clean and organized workplace.  Encourage your colleagues to follow good housekeeping practices and report any unsafe conditions they may encounter.

Confined Space:

  • Any space that is large enough for workers to enter is considered to be a confined space.  They also have limited or restricted means of entry or exit and are not designed for continuous occupancy.
  • WSU employees are NOT allowed to enter any confined space on campus without prior authorization from their supervisor and proper training.
  • Confined spaces can pose a number of serious hazards, including:
    • Oxygen deficiency:  Confined spaces may not have adequate ventilation, which can lead to a lack of oxygen. This can cause dizziness, fainting, and even death.
    • Flammable/combustible gases and vapors:  Confined spaces may contain flammable or combustible gases and vapors, which can ignite and cause an explosion.
    • Toxic gases:  Confined spaces may contain toxic gases, which can be harmful or fatal if inhaled.
    • Engulfment in solid or liquid:  Confined spaces may contain materials that can engulf an employee, such as sand or water.  This can cause suffocation or drowning.
    • High noise levels:  Confined spaces may have high noise levels, which can cause hearing damage.
    • Grinding, crushing, or mixing mechanisms:  Confined spaces may contain grinding, crushing, or mixing mechanisms, which can cause injury.
    • Configuration:  The configuration of a confined space can also pose hazards, such as narrow openings, sharp edges, or slippery surfaces.
    • Extreme temperatures:  Confined spaces may have extreme temperatures, either hot or cold, which can cause heat or cold stress.
    • Chemicals:  Confined spaces may contain chemicals, which can be harmful if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.
    • Lack of lighting:  Confined spaces may have poor lighting, which can increase the risk of accidents.
  • Never enter a confined space without prior authorization from your supervisor.  Authorization ensures that you have the necessary training, equipment, and support to enter the space safely.  Follow established entry procedures, including gas testing and ventilation checks.
  • All employees who may be required to enter confined spaces must receive training on confined space awareness.

Electrical Hazards:

  • Identify potential electrical hazards in your work area, such as exposed wires, frayed cords, or overloaded outlets.  Be particularly cautious around electrical equipment and machinery.
  • Never attempt to work on or near energized electrical equipment unless you are a qualified electrician, received proper authorization from your supervisor, and specific training.  Seek assistance from qualified personnel for electrical repairs or maintenance.
  • Use electrically insulated tools and equipment when working near or around energized electrical sources.  Grounding equipment provides a safe path for electrical current to flow away from the body in case of an accident.
  • If you notice any electrical hazards, such as sparks, smoke, or frayed wires, report them to your supervisor immediately.  Do not attempt to fix electrical hazards yourself, as they pose a serious risk of electrical shock.
  • If you work in an environment with electrical hazards, seek training on electrical safety procedures, including hazard identification, proper work practices, and emergency response protocols.

Powered Equipment:

  • Never use powered equipment without proper training and prior authorization from your supervisor.
  • Some equipment (such as forklifts and cranes) require training, assessment of use, and licensing before employees can be authorized to use.
  • Always conduct any pre-use/daily checks to ensure equipment is in good, safe working condition.
  • Report damaged, defective, or unsafe equipment to your supervisor immediately.
  • Wear required PPE when using powered equipment.

Fall Protection:

  • Recognize potential fall hazards in your work environment, such as elevated platforms, ladders, slippery surfaces, or openings in floors.  Use appropriate fall protection equipment when working at heights or in areas with fall risks.
  • Inspect your fall protection equipment, such as harnesses, lifelines, and lanyards, carefully before each use to ensure it is in good condition and free from damage.  Replace worn or defective fall protection equipment immediately.
  • Wear and use fall protection equipment according to its intended purpose and follow proper training and usage instructions.  Ensure that fall protection equipment is securely attached and properly adjusted for your body size.
  • Avoid working in areas with fall risks without appropriate fall protection.  Adhere to established safety procedures for working at heights, including proper ladder usage and edge protection measures.
  • If you encounter any fall hazards, such as damaged railings or slippery surfaces, report them to your supervisor immediately.  Timely reporting helps prevent accidents and promotes a safer work environment.

Walkway and Working Surfaces:

  • Regularly inspect walkways and working surfaces for potential hazards such as uneven surfaces, slippery conditions, or obstructions.  Report any hazards to your supervisor immediately.
  • Wear footwear that provides adequate traction and support for the specific work environment.  Avoid wearing high heels or loose-fitting shoes that could increase the risk of slips and falls.
  • Always use handrails when provided to maintain balance and prevent falls, especially on stairs, ramps, or elevated platforms.
  • Be aware of obstructions and spills on walkways and working surfaces.  Take caution to avoid tripping or slipping and report any spills or hazards to your supervisor promptly.
  • If you encounter spills or messes on walkways or working surfaces, clean them up promptly to prevent slips and falls.  Use appropriate spill cleanup materials and follow established procedures to ensure proper sanitation and hazard control.

Chemical Safety:

  • Before working with any chemicals, read and understand the corresponding Safety Data Sheets (SDS).  The SDS document provides crucial information about the hazards of the chemicals, including physical and chemical properties, health effects, safe handling and storage procedures, and emergency response protocols.  Information on how to find a chemical’s SDS can be found at Safety Data Sheet Search.
  • Adhere to the handling and storage instructions provided on the SDS for each chemical.  These instructions are designed to minimize exposure to hazards, prevent undesired reactions, and prevent accidents.
  • Wear the appropriate PPE for handling chemicals, including gloves, safety glasses, and respiratory protection if necessary.  PPE helps protect you from exposure to harmful chemicals through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion.
  • If you encounter a chemical spill or leak, report it to your supervisor immediately.  Do not attempt to clean up a chemical spill unless you are trained and authorized to do so.
  • More information about chemical safety in laboratories can be found on the Chemical Safety webpages.

Asbestos Awareness:

  • Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was once widely used in construction materials because of its fire-resistant and insulating properties.
  • Familiarize yourself with the appearance and common locations of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in older buildings.
    • Asbestos was used in a variety of building materials, including:
      • Insulation
      • Ceiling tiles
      • Floor tiles
      • Roofing materials
      • Drywall
      • Adhesives
      • Paints
      • Sprayed-on fireproofing
  • Never disturb or attempt to remove ACMs unless you are a trained and authorized asbestos abatement professional.  Disrupting ACMs can release asbestos fibers into the air, posing a serious health risk.
  • Exposure to asbestos fibers can cause a number of serious health problems, including:
    • Lung Cancer:  Asbestos is the leading cause of lung cancer in people who have never smoked.
    • Mesothelioma:  Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and chest.  It is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.
    • Asbestosis:  Asbestosis is a scarring of the lungs that makes it difficult to breathe.  It can develop many years after exposure to asbestos.
  • If you suspect that you may be working with ACMs, report it to your supervisor immediately.
  • Participate in training on asbestos safety to gain a comprehensive understanding of asbestos hazards, exposure prevention methods, and emergency response protocols.  Proper training ensures you can work safely in environments with potential asbestos exposure.

Lead Safety:

  • Recognize potential lead hazards in your work environment, such as lead-containing paint, dust, or fumes. Lead can be found in older buildings, industrial settings, and certain products.
  • Take precautions to minimize exposure to lead, including wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, respirators, and protective clothing.  Avoid inhaling lead dust or fumes and wash your hands thoroughly after working with materials that may contain lead.
  • Adhere to established work practices for lead abatement or renovation activities.  These practices include using wet methods to prevent dust generation, isolating work areas, and properly cleaning up spills or debris.
  • If you suspect lead exposure, such as experiencing symptoms or finding lead-containing materials, report it to your supervisor and OEHS immediately.  Prompt reporting allows for proper evaluation, medical attention, and corrective measures.
  • Participate in training on lead safety to gain a comprehensive understanding of lead hazards, exposure prevention methods, and emergency response protocols.  Proper training ensures you can work safely in environments with potential lead exposure.

Occupational Noise:

  • Recognize potential noise hazards in your work environment, such as machinery, power tools, or loud music.  Prolonged exposure to excessive noise can cause hearing damage.
  • Use appropriate hearing protection devices, such as earplugs or earmuffs, when working in noisy environments.  Choose hearing protection that provides adequate noise attenuation for the specific noise levels you encounter.
  • Minimize exposure to high noise levels by limiting the duration of exposure or moving to quieter areas when possible.  Take breaks in quiet environments to allow your ears to rest and recover.
  • If you find that noise levels are excessive or interfering with your ability to communicate safely, report it to your supervisor and OEHS.  Prompt reporting allows for evaluation of noise levels and implementation of noise control measures.
  • Participate in training on noise safety to gain knowledge of noise hazards, hearing loss prevention methods, and proper use of hearing protection devices.  Proper training ensures you can protect your hearing in noisy work environments.

Personal Protection Equipment:

  • Use all feasible engineering and work practice controls to eliminate and reduce hazards as required.  In addition, you may be required to utilize Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) as part of routine tasks.  Depending on the specific job task this may include items such as Safety Glasses, Hard Hat, Respirator, Fall Protection Device, Gloves, and Safety Shoes.
  • Familiarize yourself with the PPE requirements for your specific job task.  Consult with your supervisor to determine the appropriate PPE for your specific work activities.
  • Inspect your PPE carefully before each use to ensure it is in good condition and free from damage.  Replace worn or damaged PPE immediately to maintain its protective effectiveness.
  • Wear PPE correctly and according to its intended use.  Follow usage instructions provided with the PPE and store it properly when not in use to prevent damage and extend its lifespan.
  • If you notice any damage or defects in your PPE, report it to your supervisor immediately. Do not use damaged or defective PPE, as it may compromise your safety.
  • If you are unsure about the proper use or selection of PPE, seek training from your supervisor or safety personnel.  Proper PPE usage is essential for maximizing its protective benefits.

Eye Protection:

  • Recognize potential eye hazards in your work environment, such as flying debris, sparks, chemicals, or harmful radiation.  Wear appropriate eye protection to safeguard your eyes from these hazards.
  • Use safety glasses, goggles, or face shields that provide adequate protection against the specific eye hazards you encounter.  Choose eye protection that meets ANSI standards and fits properly.
  • Inspect your eye protection carefully before each use to ensure it is in good condition and free from scratches, cracks, or other damage.  Replace worn or damaged eye protection immediately.
  • If you encounter any eye hazards, such as flying debris or chemical splashes, report them to your supervisor immediately.  Prompt reporting allows for proper risk mitigation and emergency response if necessary.
  • Participate in training on proper eye protection selection, usage, and care to ensure you are using it effectively to protect your eyes from workplace hazards.

Respiratory Protection:

  • Familiarize yourself with potential respiratory hazards in your work environment, such as dust, fumes, vapors, or gases.
  • Consult your supervisor or OEHS to determine the appropriate respiratory protection for your job tasks.  NOTE: Some respiratory protection equipment (RPE) requires additional training, medical evaluation, and fit testing.  More information can be found on the Respiratory Protection Program page.  OEHS should be consulted prior to purchasing and using respiratory protection equipment (313-577-1200).
  • Wear the appropriate respiratory protection for the specific respiratory hazards you encounter. Different types of respirators, masks, or dust filters, provide varying levels of protection against different hazards.
  • Inspect your respiratory protection equipment (RPE) carefully before each use to ensure it is in good condition and free from damage. Check for cracks, tears, or other defects that could impair its protective effectiveness.
  • Wear RPE according to its intended use and follow proper fitting and usage instructions. Clean and maintain your RPE regularly to extend its lifespan and ensure optimal protection.
  • Participate in training on proper RPE selection, usage, and maintenance to ensure you are using it effectively to protect yourself from respiratory hazards.

Power Outage:

  • In the event of a major campus wide outage, WSU has emergency generators that will restore power to critical building systems of some areas of campus. 
  • To report a minor localized power outage at a university building (including residence hall and apartment buildings), call WSU Police Department at 313-577-2222 and WSU Facilities Planning and Management (FP&M) Service Center at 313-577-4315.
  • Keep a flashlight and batteries in key locations throughout your work areas.

Tornado/Severe Weather:

  • WSU Police Department is equipped to receive a National Weather Service message and will alert all WSU essential employees in the event that severe weather conditions should make it necessary for employees to move to designated shelter areas.
  • University employees during normal business hours will be made aware of Tornado warnings via Wayne State Alerts, text message alerts, and alerts through the Blue Light Emergency Phone Speakers.
  • A Tornado watch means tornadoes could potentially develop and a Tornado warning means a tornado has actually been sighted.

Medical Emergencies:

  • Call WSU Police Department (313-577-2222) and advise them of your location and the nature of the victim's illness/injury.
  • Do not move the victim unless there is an immediate life-threatening emergency.
  • Before providing first aid to the victim, assess the victim and the area for any hazards that may cause serious harm to yourself.  For example, an electrical hazard, inhalation hazard, or a chemical hazard.
  • Comfort the victim and reassure them that medical assistance is on the way.
  • Remain on the scene to assist WSU Police Department /medical service providers with pertinent information about the incident.