Employee Safety Handbook


1. Culture of Safety & Safety Policy

2. Prevention of Occupational Injury

3. Public Safety

4. Emergency Procedures

5. Non-Emergency Injury/Illness Procedures

6. Asbestos Management

7. Hazardous (Chemical) Waste Disposal

8. Biological or Infectious Waste

9. Radioactive Waste Management

10. Sustainability, Minimization and Recycling

11. Hazard Communication Program

12. Office Safety

13. Laboratory Safety

14. Shop Safety

15. Personal Protective Equipment

16. Hazard Evaluation

17. Safe Lifting/Back Injury Prevention

18. Safety Policies and Procedures

19. Warning Signs and Symbols

20. Safety Services and Programs

21. Training Checklist for Non-lab Work Areas

22. Training Checklist for Lab & Research Areas

23. Training Classes


Welcome to New Mexico State University! NMSU encourages and supports all programs that promote safety, good health, and well-being of all university faculty, staff, employees, students and visitors.

NMSU Environmental Health and Safety
EH&S is responsible for the development, oversight, and management of environmental health and safety programs that provide safe and healthy conditions for work and study, help protect the environment, and comply with applicable laws and regulations. EH&S provides educational programs, technical assistance, and numerous health and safety services to the NMSU community. EH&S staff also functions as consultants to Deans, Directors, Heads of Academic Departments and Administration. The division makes health and safety investigations as necessary and upon request, assists departments in the development of safety programs and participates in health and safety training and education.

EH&S fulfills its mission to make the campus a safe environment by implementing programs and services in eight major areas.

  1. Hazardous waste and materials management.
  2. Regulatory interpretation.
  3. Health and safety inspections/facility audits.
  4. Accident and exposure investigations.
  5. Exposure prevention/indoor air quality.
  6. Radiation licensing and permitting.
  7. Education, training and protective equipment.
  8. Safety standards and procedures

In addition, some units (e.g. the Fire and Police) have other specific requirements and responsibilities established by agencies external to the University.

Safety Committees
The formation of departmental or college safety committees is highly encouraged. Experience has shown that these committees can provide an effective means of implementing safety programs. EH&S can provide guidance and offers staff for membership to aid in the development of these committees.
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1. Culture of Safety & Safety Policy

Responsibility and accountability

Good environmental, health and safety practices are the responsibility of each NMSU faculty and staff member, student, and visitor. The following is a summary of these responsibilities. The full EH&S Policy is on the safety web site and in NMSU AP&P Manual.

Individual Responsibility

All New Mexico State University faculty, staff, and students are responsible for:

  1. Participating in mandated training programs provided by Environmental Health & Safety, supervisors and other instructors.
  2. Properly using university supplied materials and equipment.
  3. Using good judgment in carrying out work assignments and following established procedures.
  4. Promptly reporting unsafe conditions, environmental health hazards, as well as injuries and illnesses to the cognizant supervisor or program director. (Link to report via EH&S suggestion form) (Link for confidential reporting via 3rd party – Ethicspoint)
  5. Giving due consideration to personal safety and the safety of others while performing assigned tasks.
  6. Strictly adhering to federal, state and university safety requirements and guidelines.
  7. Understanding that disregard or chronic negligence of established policies and procedures can result in disciplinary action.

Supervisors Responsibilities

Supervisors, faculty, principal investigators, first line supervisors, and all other persons in authority are responsible for:

  1. Providing safe and healthy environments for those areas and personnel for whom they have supervisory or administrative responsibility, incorporating safety and health issues as an integral part of all activities at the University.
  2. Being continuously cognizant of the safety and health needs of all co-workers and employees for whom they are responsible.
  3. Initiating and enforcing necessary preventive measures to control hazards.
  4. Ensuring necessary support such as engineering and administrative controls, personal protective equipment, occupational medical examinations, and local exhaust ventilation are in place and adequate for operations.
  5. Ensuring employees are trained prior to beginning new tasks (training checklist).
  6. Reporting injuries and illnesses to Worker’s Compensation Office.
  7. Reviewing accident and injury reports for their area(s).
  8. Serving as a focal point for safety and health concerns.
  9. Immediately notifying EH&S when they become aware of a violation of any university, state or federal environmental health or occupational safety rule or regulation. This includes any contact with the state and federal regulatory agencies.

Management Responsibilities

University Administration, all Vice Presidents, Deans and Department Heads are responsible for:

  1. Ensuring that facilities and equipment provided meet requirements for a safe work environment for activities being conducted or modify those activities accordingly to come into compliance with applicable rules, regulations and standards.
  2. Ensuring individuals under their management have the authority and support to implement environmental health and safety policies, practices and programs.
  3. Ensuring areas under their management are in compliance with University, state and federal environmental health and safety policies, practices and programs.
  4. Establishing priorities and committing resources for correction of environmental health and safety deficiencies.
  5. Establishing procedures for dissemination of policies and other safety-related information.
  6. Establishing procedures to implement policies.
  7. Utilizing the system which will be established for assessing safety performance to evaluate their own areas of responsibility and report findings back to central administration.
  8. Immediately notifying EH&S when they become aware of a violation of any university, state or federal environmental health or occupational safety rule or regulation. (Link to file report via EH&S suggestion form) This includes any contact with the state and federal regulatory agencies.

The University President has ultimate responsibility for establishing and maintaining health and safety programs and establishing a system for assessing safety performance for the University.

In addition, some units (e.g. the Fire and Police) have other specific requirements and responsibilities established by agencies external to the University.

The formation of departmental or college safety committees is highly encouraged. Experience has shown that these committees can provide an effective means of implementing safety programs. EH&S can provide guidance and offers staff for membership to aid in the development of these committees.

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2. Prevention of Occupational Injury

A wide variety of injuries can occur on the job. At NMSU the majority of reported incidents fall into the following categories:

  • Back injuries and other sprains/strains
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Cuts and abrasions

Injury prevention depends upon job-knowledge, using equipment properly, recognizing hazards, and a safe-work attitude. Specific training, based on equipment manuals and written standard operating procedures, is required to obtain task and equipment knowledge.

Hazard recognition is a learned skill of identifying where and how safety problems can occur. Job experience and good observation are important characteristics of hazard recognition. A person with a safe-work attitude has an ability which is developed individually and is continually reinforced by management. Persons working with a safe-work attitude perform their work in a safe manner while eliminating known high risk activities.

Methods to prevent occupational injury include the following:

  • Don’t take chances or shortcuts
  • Know how to use hazardous materials and equipment,
  • Take responsibility for personal safety,
  • Be observant,
  • When in doubt, ask!

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3. Public Safety

NMSU Police

The NMSU Police Department is located on College Drive. All students and staff should report public safety problems to the NMSU Police Department at 646-3311. Any activities which you observe that make you uncomfortable or make you question the appropriateness of the activity should be reported.

Escort Service

The NMSU Escort Service (646-1111) is provided by the Associated Students of New Mexico State University (ASNMSU). This service provides a person to walk you from one location to another. The area covered ranges from student housing to two blocks off-campus. Even though NMSU is not considered a dangerous campus, the Escort Service provides the added feeling of safety by ensuring students don’t have to walk alone at night. The service is provided free of charge to students and is available from sundown until 12:30 am. Sunday – Thursday (646-1111).

Emergency Stations

Emergency stations are located in many areas throughout the campus. They are easily identified by blue lights and have an emergency telephone attached. As you park or walk around the campus, make note of where the emergency stations are located. Do not try to apprehend a suspicious person yourself; let the police respond.

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Emergency Action Plan

Emergency procedures for your work area are in the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) developed by your department. These include:

  • Escape routes & procedures
  • Disabled assistance & shutdown procedures
  • Coordinators & emergency contacts
  • Evacuation assembly site
  • Reporting method & evacuation verification

Guidelines, requirements and updating information for the Departmental EAP are provided in the program section of the safety web (hr.nmsu.edu/safety/).

4. Emergency Procedures

Emergency Alert System

The EAS system is a supplement to Emergency Action Plan. It is to used for emergency incidents, threatening weather, fire, chemical release, etc.

It is a telephone-based notification system, which can be used to send area-specific information to affected NMSU areas/buildings. Additional alert information may be provided via NMSU web &/or NMSU announcement line

Chemical Spills – Immediate Danger

Ifa chemical spill occurs or is discovered and in your opinion constitutes an immediate danger to yourself or other building occupants ants

  • PULL THE FIRE ALARM to evacuate the building.
  • After activating the fire alarm, immediately call the campus emergency number – 911.

For chemical contact, remove contaminated clothing and rinse contaminated skin or eyes continually with fresh water or eye wash solution for 15 minutes.

All Spills – No Immediate Danger

This is for spills that present no immediate danger to you or other building occupants.

All spills with uncontrolled releases (water flooding, cleaning supplies, etc.) or chemical contamination of a person must be reported to your supervisor and EH&S. For mercury spills, don’t clean up, close the area and call EH&S.

Emergencies are reported at 911;
Non-emergencies should be reported at 646-3311


If you see a fire, smell a burning odor or see smoke you believe to be caused by fire, activate the fire alarm and immediately afterwards call 911.

Do not attempt to put out the fire unless you know it is safe to do so. Do not use a fire extinguisher unless you are trained to do so. All NMSU employees should attend extinguisher training conducted by the NMSU Fire Department (646-2519).

If the fire alarm sounds in your building, evacuate the area immediately. Move away from the building to a pre-designated area. Do not use the elevators.

Medical Emergency

Quickly call 911 for immediate medical attention of employees, students, or visitors.

Do not move an injured person unless they are in a life threatening situation. Call 911 for:

  • heart attacks
  • unconscious persons
  • cuts with extreme bleeding
  • broken bones
  • eye or head injuries
  • chemical exposures
  • electric shock
  • seizures

Or if in doubt, treat the situation as a medical emergency and call 911.

Weather Hazards

The Sun.
Along with the Organ Mountains, the sun is the most prominent feature of the daytime skyline. With the sun comes certain dangers from the high UV level in Las Cruces. Take appropriate precautions to prevent overexposure to the sun such as sun block, headgear, and sunglasses.

The median Las Cruces summertime temperature is 95.5o F. Heat illness (heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heatstroke) is a real issue and is easily prevented. Prevention methods include drinking plenty of water (not tea, coffee, sodas, etc.),
wearing lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored, clothing, and scheduling outdoor activities during cooler part of day.

Lightning is a major component of local storms. If you are caught outside during a lightning storm, seek proper shelter immediately. Safety tips include:

    • Quickly get out & way from pools, lakes & water bodies;
    • Avoid areas higher than the surrounding landscape
    • Get in a hard-topped car;
    • Never use a tree as a shelter
    • Keep away from metal objects;
    • Indoors stay clear of windows, doors, & electric units;
    • Don’t stand in a crowd of people;
    • Unplug computers and equipment and only use the telephone for emergencies.

Strong winds with blowing dust are also a frequent problem. The peak months for strong winds in the Las Cruces area is during February and March. However, strong winds can occur at any time during the year. You can best protect yourself by wearing the proper clothing. If you suffer from respiratory problems, a dust mask or equivalent may be required. Consult your physician for advice.

Rain and High Water
Las Cruces is an extremely arid region. The average annual precipitation for the area is approximately 11 inches. During rain storms the streets can become slick from oils that have built up over time.

Strong and heavy rainstorms are also a reality. When this occurs dangers arise from flash floods and street flooding. Low-lying areas, such as arroyos, quickly flood and become very hazardous. Do not attempt to cross flooded areas of unknown depth.

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5. Non-Emergency Injury/Illness Procedures

All illnesses and injuries occurring from workplace activities must be reported. Steps to take in identifying incidents and seeking treatment are as follows:

Employee Incident Reporting

Any work-related injury or illness, no matter how minor, must be reported to your supervisor at the time of the incident using form NOA-1 “Notice of Accident.” Examples of injuries/illness include but are not limited to: scratches, bruises, burns, dust in eyes, headaches from breathing fumes or vapors, splinters, dislocated joints, broken bones, cuts, muscle strains, particles in the eyes, etc. Form NOA-1 must be submitted immediately after the incident to be considered for workers compensation. In addition, report all near misses to your supervisor so that actions can be taken to prevent future occurrences that might not miss.

Supervisor’s Reports and Investigation

Your supervisor is required to complete WCA Form E1.2, “Employer’s First Report of Injury or Illness,” and “NMSU Worker’s Compensation Supervisor Accident Investigation Report.” Upon completion, these and the NOA-1 form must be submitted to the NMSU Worker Compensation Coordinator, Campus Health Center, MSC 3EH&S, within 24-hours even if medical attention is not required.

When completing the forms, give a detailed description of what happened. Include the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the incident. Include whether Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was required by the task and if PPE was used. Also include the dates of recent safety training. This then provides the necessary information to identify the root cause and prevent future incidents or near misses.

Getting Medical Attention

If there is an injury at work or an illness believed to be work-related, report to Campus Health Center. If immediate attention is required, do not wait for the injury/illness report to be completed. However, for exposure to chemicals or chemical products, take with you a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the material involved. The supervisor should obtain a copy from the depart- mental work files.

Campus Health Center (646-1512/6601) is located at corner of Stewart & Breland Streets. The current hours for Campus Health Center are:

Monday – Friday 7:30 am – 11 am, Walk-in hours
1:30 – 4:30 pm, Appointment and
Walk-in hours

NMSU requires that an injured employee see an University Health Services provider first for all medical care and for any specialist referrals for a work related injury. Exceptions are:

    1. A need for immediate hospital emergency care
    2. A serious injury occurring after clinic hours
    3. An injury occurring outside the Las Cruces area

If any of the above occur, contact the NMSU Worker Compensation Coordinator (646-7375) and University Health Services (646-1512) within 24-hours in order to coordinate all follow-up medical care (WC Procedures).

Employees located off-campus and outside the Las Cruces area should report to the nearest emergency medical facility. Documentation must be sent to the WC Coordinator,
c/o Campus Health Center, MSC 3529, P.O. Box 30001, NMSU, Las Cruces. [section updated 2012]

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6. Asbestos Management

Campus buildings constructed prior to 1981 typically have asbestos within their structures. Asbestos is a fibrous mineral used extensively in building materials as a fire preven-tative measure before its health hazards were fully known. It is only a hazard if the microscopic fibers are released into the air. Once the fibers are in the air, humans can breathe in the fibers which become lodged in the lungs. Most people experiencing negative health effects from asbestos have breathed air containing high concentrations of asbestos over long periods of time.

NMSU operates a program to manage asbestos so that all regulations are complied with during renovation projects and normal maintenance activities. NMSU contracts state licensed workers to perform asbestos removal. Asbestos warning signs will indicate the areas where asbestos-containing materials are being removed. These signs will be posted at such a distance from the removal project that an employee may read the signs and safely avoid the regulated area.

To ensure environmentally safe working conditions, all personnel potentially exposed to asbestos must attend Asbestos Awareness Training. Building material should not be disturbed if it is unknown whether or not the material contains asbestos.

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7. Hazardous (Chemical) Waste Disposal

The proper disposal of chemicals is important for the protection of employee health and the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces strict laws that govern the proper management of hazardous waste. The EPA often levies steep fines against institutions and sometimes brings criminal charges against individuals who fail to follow proper procedures. Government institutions like NMSU are not immune.

Environmental Health and Safety has developed a hazardous waste manual

as a guide for waste disposal. It provides information on identification, labeling, segregation, storage, packaging, and turn-in of hazardous waste. This guide is currently available on the EH&S website (safety.nmsu.edu).

Bottom line: If you need assistance in determining whether or not you are producing a hazardous waste, call EH&S (646-3327) for assistance. The following is a general list, non-inclusive, of common materials at NMSU that become hazardous wastes when they can no longer be used for their intended purpose. These wastes must be turned into EH&S for proper disposal; they cannot be poured down the drain or placed in a dumpster.

  • Most laboratory chemicals
  • Pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides
  • Special metal batteries (Ni-Cad, Lithium, Lead-Acid, Mercury)
  • All elemental mercury and mercury compounds
  • Paint, thinners/solvents, and adhesives
  • Maintenance materials such as degreasing and lubricating agents and fuels
  • Janitorial materials such as floor waxes and strippers
  • All spill clean-up materials involving the above items

EH&S Waste material tracking forms need to be completed and attached to each waste container. The form needs to be filled out with ALL chemical names and best estimate of the amount of each in the container, to include ALL diluents (water, alcohols, etc.). This form should be attached to the waste container as soon as waste starts to be collected and can serve as the container label.

Place waste materials in compatible containers. When possible avoid mixing waste chemicals from different waste streams. If mixing must occur, always ensure chemicals are compatible.

Waste containers must be tightly closed at all times when not in use. Store waste containers only in designated areas.

When waste containers are 75% full, package compatible wastes in boxes with packaging materials so that they will not break during transportation. Department of Transportation (DOT) approved shipping boxes are required for liquids.

Call the EH&S office (646-3327) to schedule a hazardous waste pick-up. There is no cost to the department for normal waste disposal. However, analytical fees for unlabeled or abandoned wastes may be charged to the responsible department.

Container for waste collection are available free of charge.

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8. Biological or Infectious Waste

Infectious waste includes any waste item contaminated with biological agents suspected as being capable of transmitting disease. Infectious waste can be divided into three primary groups:

Liquid wastes. Items such as blood, other bodily fluids, or culture media which is known or suspected to be contaminated with disease agents.

Soft materials. Includes materials such as dressings, bandages, bedding, toweling, etc. that are saturated to the point that they are capable of releasing blood, bodily fluids or other potentially infectious materials when handled or compressed.

Sharps. Objects or instruments that are contaminated with blood, bodily fluids, or other infectious agents which could penetrate the skin or could do so if broken. Examples of this include:

  • glassware
  • pipettes (glass and hard plastic)
  • hypodermic needles
  • scalpel blades
  • lancets

Segregation and Storage

Place infectious liquid waste containers into leak proof containers for treatment prior to disposal.

Place soft infectious waste into an infectious waste bag with the biohazard symbol on it and treat prior to disposal.

Place infectious sharps into a sharps container for treatment. A sharp container is typically constructed of hard plastic with the biohazard symbol. The responsible department purchases the required autoclave containers, biohazard bags and sharps containers.

Biohazard (Infectious) Waste Treatment

Biohazardous wastes must be treated as follows:

  • Waste classified as Biosafety Level I & II must be autoclaved at the correct temperature, pressure and length of time to ensure sterilization. A steam sterilization indicator must be included with each load to ensure proper autoclave function. After effective treatment & removal of biohazard symbol, waste may be disposed as trash.

*Note: Before using a steam sterilizer to treat infectious waste, personnel must have documentation that they have been properly trained and understand the operating procedures for each unit.

  • Blood waste and sharps, in sharps containers, are incinerated by a vendor approved by EH&S.
  • Untreated biohazardous material (including human blood, body fluids, etc.) must be incinerated by a vendor approved by EH&S.
  • Contact the EH&S Office for pick-up of biohazard containers for incineration. Large biohazard containers are available upon request.

Please note that the NMSU Biosafety Manual, IBC application as well as the exposure control model plan and related information are available on the Safety website.

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9. Radioactive Waste Management

All radioactive materials (including uranium & thorium compounds), x-ray devices, and similar radiation equipment must be licensed to be purchased, used and stored at NMSU. Licensing must be done via the NMSU Radiation Safety Officer (RSO) at EH&S. The Radiation Safety Committee reviews each new application. The NMSU Radiation safety manual is on the NMSU Safety website and radiation training is available from EH&S.

Disposal options for radioactive material include decay in storage, transfer to EH&S, sewer disposal and transfer to a licensed user.

Each user of radioactive material is responsible for segregating waste by isotope and type.

Waste must be stored in an appropriate, properly labeled, leak proof container.

Records of radioisotope use and disposition are maintained by each authorized user.

Biodegradable or environmentally safe scintillation cocktails must be used because of disposal restrictions on hazardous wastes contaminated with radioactivity.

All types of radioactive waste must be segregated by isotope except for carbon-14 and tritium, which may be mixed.

Classification of Radioactive Waste

Solid Waste, includes laboratory trash, paper, plastic, gloves, soils, test tubes and glassware. Broken glass or sharps must be placed in a rigid, puncture proof container labeled “sharps.”

Liquid Scintillation Vial (LSV) Wastes are scintillation fluids inside closed vials.

Bulk Liquid Scintillation Fluids containing other liquids must be clearly labeled with the percentage of each component in the waste container.

Aqueous Wastes that are readily soluble, not otherwise hazardous, and fall within specified limits may be disposed in the sanitary sewer as authorized in the user’s permit.

Biological Waste (contaminated animal carcasses, tissues, blood, human and animal secretions) and Special Waste (hazardous chemical pathogenic or infectious material) requires pre-approval by the RSO at EH&S (646-3327).

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10. Sustainability, Minimization and Recycling

NMSU is dedicated to the protection of the environment and to the preservation of national resources. Objectively evaluate and identify opportunities in your work area that may reduce or eliminate the generation of any waste item, including waste chemicals. Waste minimization includes such techniques as:

Purchase Control.
Covers areas such as purchasing only the necessary amount of material required to complete a job and establishing a centralized purchasing system within departments to prevent purchase duplication.

Inventory Control.
Covers such items as the redistribution of unused materials to other campus users or returning unused, unopened materials to vendors for credit. Clear and proper labeling of all containers is also included within this area.

Operational Controls.
This topic covers periodically reviewing protocols to ensure chemical usage is minimized; reducing chemical usage in experimentation by using micro-scale techniques when practical and evaluating less hazardous substitutes when feasible.

Examples of these controls include but are not limited to:

  • Making double-sided photocopies when practical.
  • Using recycled and recyclable materials such as non- glossy, non-colored paper stock.
  • Using specialty, biodegradable glass cleaning detergents versus sulfuric acid/chromic acid cleaners.
  • Using specimens preserved in a less toxic preservative versus those preserved in formaldehyde-based preservatives.
  • Utilizing aqueous-based preservatives and degreasers
  • Using a heat gun versus chemical-based paint strippers.

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11. Hazard Communication Program


The Hazard Communication Program is an OSHA requirement and is intended to provide information regarding the use of hazardous chemicals in the work place. All NMSU employees should be familiar with the requirements of the written program. Employees that use chemicals or chemical products (including common items such as cleaners, glues, photochemicals, fuels, paints, insecticides, etc) must receive training from NMSU. EH&S gives this training monthly and provides documentation.

Chemical users/buyers must also be aware of NMSU reporting requirements & purchasing restrictions for COI chemicals per Department of Homeland Security requirements (EH&S website). [update 2008]

Written Program

NMSU has developed a written Hazard Communication program. Employees have the right to know the hazards involved with the chemicals and products with which they work. NMSU maintains a written program available to all employees. It is available for review at the EH&S office or via the policy section of the safety web site (safety.nmsu.edu). The written program specifies the university policy, training requirements, responsibilities of employees relating to the program, and procedures for program implementation and maintenance.

HazCom Chemical Inventory

Each department is required to conduct and maintain a inventory of chemicals (and chemical products) used or located in their work areas. The HazCom inventory is to include identity, approximate quantity, hazard type, location, and contact information (two contacts). The inventory must be updated at annually with EH&S. Additional details on the web-based inventory are provided on the safety web site. An MSDS must be available for each chemicals on the list.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS or MSDS)

The SDS is a detailed reference for the chemical prepared by the manufacturer (Prior to June 2012, the SDS was called an MSDS, Material Safety Data Sheet). It contains technical, safety and health information about the chemical. These documents must be available to all staff on every shift. All staff must know what an SDS is and where they are located for their work area. Each department and supervisor is responsible for maintaining a set of SDS for the hazardous materials used or stored within their work areas. SDSs are required as part of a NMSU purchase order. Multiple links are available in the resources section of the safety web site (safety.nmsu.edu) to obtain missing SDSs.


All containers of hazardous chemicals are required to be correctly labeled. The original labels are a primary source of information to prevent unnecessary exposure to hazardous chemicals. Chemicals placed in secondary containers must also be labeled. EH&S recommends the NFPA labeling system for secondary containers. The chemical name, its hazard rating (0 low to 4 extreme) for fire, reactivity, toxicity and any specific hazard are marked on the color coded label.

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12. Office Safety

Office areas are typically safer than most other workplaces. However, hazards exist that can potentially cause illness and injury. Situations, materials and equipment that can lead to illness or injury can include the following:

Tripping hazards – electrical/phone cords, misplaced supplies, open file cabinet drawers

Back injury – improper lifting technique or too heavy of a load for one person

Falling – using equipment other than ladders to reach objects from higher places

File cabinets – tipping over with most of the weight in open top drawer or tripping over drawers that are left open (example)

Shock – using electrical equipment that is not grounded, with frayed cords or unguarded (GFCI) in wet areas.

Fire – due to improper use of extension cords, surge protectors or multi-plug units

Chemical exposure – from glues, solvents, toners, cleaners, etc.

Computers – cumulative trauma disorder, eye strain, neck/shoulder/back pain.

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13. Laboratory Safety

This section provides only a brief summary of laboratory safety. For more in-depth information refer to the NMSU Guide to Laboratory Safety developed by the University Safety Committee and EH&S (details are provided on the EH&S web site). Staff working in laboratories should be familiar with certain rules; these include:

Chemical Hygiene Plan/Lab Std Training

Departments with labs must have a Chemical Hygiene Plan (updated annually) and appoint a Chem. Hygiene Officer. All lab employees (regular or student) must be trained by EH&S (minimum training – HazCom & Lab Standard )

Food and Drink Consumption

Maintaining food, drink, smoking materials, and cosmetics, in a laboratory potentially exposes employees to toxic substances. Consuming food or drinks, applying cosmetics, and smoking are not allowed in these areas. Well-defined areas are to be established for their storage and consumption.

Protective Equipment

Clothing is a critical factor in the safety of laboratory personnel. As such, teaching and research laboratories must enforce the OSHA standard for proper clothing worn by people handling hazardous chemicals (PPE Guide). At a minimum, lab users must wear the following:

Safety glasses must be worn at all times in areas (i.e. near) where hazardous materials are being used. Splash goggles (acid goggles) or face shields with splash proof sides must be worn for splash protection from corrosive or dangerous chemicals.

Protective gloves when the potential exists for contact with corrosive, toxic materials, infectous, or hazardous materials

Appropriate protective clothing (pants, lab coats, aprons, or tyvek-type coveralls) and closed-toe shoes in areas where hazardous chemicals are used or stored.

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14. Shop Safety

This section contains a brief summary of conditions that personnel working in shop settings may encounter. Examples of shop safety include, but are not limited to:

Respiratory Protection

This NMSU program preserves the health of personnel by preventing exposure to harmful air contaminants. Requirements include medical review, training and annual fit testing. Personnel are trained on the recognition of respiratory hazards, the use and care of appropriate respiratory protection equipment, and the need to comply with university, state and federal regulations. Where practical, exposure to air contaminants will be eliminated by the application of engineering controls (i.e. enclosure of the operation, ventilation, or substitution of less toxic materials).

Lockout Tagout

The LOTO standard requires that machines and equipment are isolated from potentially hazardous energy sources (e.g. steam, electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, or gas). To avoid unexpected start-up, lockout or tagout must occur before employees perform service, maintenance, or renovation. Performing this action prevents personal injury, fire, or equipment damage.

Confined Spaces

A confined space is an area with limited or restricted entry/exits and is not designed for continuous occupancy. It is a permit-required area when it contains a potentially hazardous atmosphere, such as limited oxygen content. It may also require a permit if it contains mechanical and/or electrical equipment, which upon contact or activation may trap, crush, or electrocute persons. Examples of such areas include pump stations, wells, tanks, ducts, utility vaults, steam tunnels and ventilation/exhaust units. Permit required areas are clearly labeled. Call EH&S for permit before entry. NMSU Confined Space Program.

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15. Personal Protective Equipment

Faculty, staff, and students may be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while performing their jobs or in certain environments (e.g. chemical, biology, ag., art, theater and engineering departments, also facility, ag., & engineering shops). Your supervisor will inform you of and provide the specific PPE you must wear (guide). The following are only general guidelines. If you are required to wear PPE not mentioned here or have other questions, contact your supervisor or EH&S for additional information. More information is available on the safety web site (safety.nmsu.edu).

Eye and Face Protection

Chemical hazards – Safety glasses are the minimum protection for all operations involving chemicals. If a risk of splash to the eyes and face exists when using or dispensing hazardous liquids, non-vented chemical goggles or safety glasses with side shields and full-face shield offer the best protection.

Physical hazards – High-pressure cleaning or spray equipment requires that safety glasses with side shields and full-face shields be worn. Work activities producing chips or dust (e.g. grinding/drilling, power fastening, or power tools) require safety glasses with side shields as the minimum protection level. In some cases full face shields are required.

Welding – Welding operations require full welding hoods with the appropriate tinted vision screen. Safety glasses with side shields must be used with or without the hood. Acetylene-oxygen torch soldering, brazing, or cutting, requires appropriately tinted safety glasses with side shields or tinted goggles.

Lasers – Appropriate safety eyewear is a must when using lasers or when in areas with a working laser. Different lasers require different types and shades of eye protection. Lasers are to be registered with EH&S and users must be trained (eyesafety guide)

Hand/Arm and Body Protection

Gloves resistant to the chemical(s) in use, a protective smock, lab coat, or coveralls, and at times a splash apron are the correct PPE for handling hazardous chemicals. Specialized gloves and arm sleeve covers are recommended when working with cryogenic or electrical hazards. To reduce cut or abrasion injuries, use puncture or abrasion resistant gloves, arm sleeve covers, and at times an apron.

Head and Foot Protection

A hard hat or other head protection and foot protection may be required for certain jobs or work areas (e.g. construction zones). Foot protection is required when the potential for foot injury is present from rolling, falling, piercing or electrical hazard. All hard hats or safety shoes must meet the requirements for protection outlined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Hearing Protection

Certain work areas and job tasks are designated as requiring hearing protection. You are required to wear approved protective equipment; this does not include personal stereos with headphones. Certain work areas or tasks may be designated as requiring additional protective measures. Supervisors are responsible for identifying these areas and for generally providing training on the use of hearing protection equipment. If you have questions about high noise levels in your work area, you should ask your supervisor or contact the Environmental Health and Safety for more information.

Respiratory Protection

Some employees are required to wear respirators. Respirators include dust masks, air-purifying negative-pressure respirators, self-contained breathing apparatus, supplied-air respirators, and other such devices. If you must wear a respirators, you must have a medical evaluation, be “fit tested” and trained by EH&S before using it. Annual training is required. NMSU has a written Respiratory Protection Program.

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16. Hazard Evaluation

Industrial hygiene is the study and prevention of occupational illnesses due to materials and conditions present in the workplace. This involves the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace hazards to maintain a healthy and safe environment for all university faculty, staff, students, and visitors. EH&S staff can assist with the evaluation and control of the following hazards:

Chemical hazards – lab chemicals, cleaning supplies, paints, solvents.

Physical substances – heat, cold, radiation, noise.

Biological substances – blood, body fluids, infectious agents.

Indoor air quality – health effects experienced while working in campus buildings caused by airborne agents.

Ergonomics – musculoskeletal disorders due to repetitive motions with poor positioning or excessive force.

Non-Routine & Hazardous Activity

  • Prior Approval/Safety Review( form) in HazCom Plan (safety approval), Lab Guide & Chem. Hygiene Plan;
  • Activity Review Permit for employee or student use of campus, bldg, classrooms, etc. Examples include food sales, mechanic apparatus or hazardous material use, rallies, etc

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17. Safe Lifting/Back Injury Prevention


Back injuries are among the majority of reported incidences occurring at NMSU. Training on safe and proper lifting is provided by EH&S. Listed below are some recommended procedures to help you avoid back injury:

  • Loads over 25 pounds may require assistance – ask for help!
  • Position yourself so that the load you are lifting is kept close to your body.
  • Lifting a load to shoulder height or higher is risky – request assistance!
  • Position yourself so that your ears will be above your knees when you are ready to lift.
  • Lift with your legs.
  • Maintain your balance by placing one foot slightly ahead of the other.
  • Complete the lift before turning or twisting your torso with the load.

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18. Safety Policies and Procedures

Several policies relate to protecting your environment, health and safety. You should be aware of their content and follow the procedures as appropriate. Several recent policies are briefly discussed here. Refer to the policy section available on the web (safety.nmsu.edu) for complete detail.

Prior Approval/Safety Review

All activities involving unusual or non-routine use of hazardous or highly toxic material as well as hazardous work activities and campus events are to be reviewed for safety & approved before starting. Details & Prior Approval forms are on EH&S web (safety.nmsu.edu). Campus Activity request forms are at http://www.nmsu.edu/~activities/activityplanning.html.

Hazardous Material Shipping

Per DOT regulations and NMSU policy, all hazardous materials shipped from NMSU must be via trained, Physical Science Laboratory personnel (details are on the EH&S website).

Hazardous Material Use In Buildings

Hazardous materials use inside buildings is to be controlled to keep exposures are below permissible exposure limits. Except in special vented areas (e.g. labs), volatiles are restricted to:

  1. Unoccupied areas or occupied areas with additional ventilation, and
  2. by trained employees using respiratory or other protection.
  3. For more information, contact the EH&S 646-3327

Hazardous Waste

All hazardous, infectious and regulated material must be disposed of through or under the supervision of EH&S.


State law ($100 fine) prohibits smoking in NMSU buildings and vehicles [update 2007]. NMSU policy prohibits smoking in and within 25’ of the entries to NMSU buildings [updated 2006]. Smoking is also prohibited in all NMSU vehicles. Smoking is only allowed in designated smoking areas.

Nondiscrimination & Reporting Hazards

Employees who report environmental, health or safety problems to internal departments are protected from discrimination. (see EH&S web for details) EH&S maintains an open door policy to resolve these issues. (Link to file report via EH&S suggestion form). Fraud, safety, and other concerns can also be reported anonymously to the Audit Office via the Ethicspoint’s website or by phone (additional information) (Link for confidential reporting via Ethicspoint website).

Mercury Minimization

In order to reduce the associated risks and comply with wastewater discharge requirements, NMSU must reduce its use of non-essential elemental mercury and mercury devices. The remaining materials are to be safe guarded from spillage and listed on the NMSU HazCom inventory system (details).

Golf Carts

The NMSU utility cart safety program requires that all golf and utility carts used on campus roads and walkways be registered and tagged. They are to be inspected to ensure that they have the proper safety equipment (lights, signals, horn, brakelights, etc.). In addition all users must have a NMSU cart operator permit to drive these units (see policy on website). [update 2008]

Driving University Vehicles

Prospective drivers of University vehicles must have a valid driver’s license and will undergo a motor vehicle records check. Out of state license holders will be required to provide a certified copy of your driving history before a NMSU permit is issued. You will also be required to attend a National Safety Council’s defensive driving course (or equivalent). This class is provided monthly by EH&S. As noted above utility cart operators must also have an operators permit.

Controlled Access Policy

Except in emergencies, for specific projects, and on controlled routes all cars, trucks, and similar large vehicles are restricted from driving or parking on campus walkways and turf areas. Details are provided in the Controlled Access Policy on the EH&S web.. [update 2008]

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19. Warning Signs and Symbols

The following symbols identify hazardous areas/materials and safety equipment. They are to be used on lab/shop door signs to identify hazards and equipment found in the area.

Indicates that a material is poisonous if inhaled or ingested.

Indicates that a material is flammable.

Indicates that a material is corrosive. To prevent contact with the skin, the user must wear PPE.

Indicates that a laser is in the location. Only enter after verifying that the laser is not in use

Indicates biohazardous materials are in the area and are potentially infectious to humans. A sign must be posted in areas & on containers of such materials.

Indicates radioactive materials are located in the area.

A safety shower is located within 100 feet or 10 seconds traveling time.

Indicates the location of an emergency eyewash system.

Fire extinguisher location.

Carcinogen chemical hazard

First aid symbol.

Electricity hazard

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20. Safety Services and Programs

  • Accident/Injury Investigation
  • Air Samples
  • Air Quality
  • Animal Facility Inspection
  • Asbestos Waste Pick-up
  • Asbestos Program
  • Biological and Biohazardous Waste
  • Biosafety Program
  • Blood, Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Cancer-causing Agents
  • Chemical Inventory
  • Chemical Spill, Release
  • Chemical Waste Pick-up, Disposal
  • Community Right-to-know
  • Compressed Gases
  • Computer Work Stations
  • Construction Safety
  • Defensive Driving Classes
  • Drain Disposal
  • Driving Permit for NMSU Vehicles
  • Emergency Action Plan
  • Emergency Showers and Eyewashes
  • Employee Right-to-know
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulations
  • Ergonomics Classes
  • Forklift Operation
  • Freezers (flammable storage)
  • Fume Hood Safety & Inspection
  • Gas Cylinder Safety
  • Hazard Assessment
  • Hazard Communication Program
  • Hazardous Waste: Management/minimization, pick-up, disposal, and spill cleanup
  • Hearing Conservation
  • Indoor Air Quality Investigation
  • Injury and Illness Prevention
  • Laboratory Safety Training & Inspection
  • Ladder Safety
  • Lead Hazards
  • Laser Safety
  • Loss Prevention & Control
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
  • Mercury Spill Response/Clean up
  • Microwave Ovens – Leakage Review
  • NMED Radiation Protection Regulation
  • Noise Level Evaluations
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulation
  • Odors Investigation
  • Office Safety
  • PCBs
  • Radiation Safety and Permitting
  • Recombinant DNA
  • Refrigerators (flammable storage)
  • Regulatory Information
  • Regulatory Point-of-Contact for EPA, OSHA, DOT, NMED and Other Regulatory Agencies
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety Training
  • Safety Equipment Inspection
  • SARA Title III
  • Sewage Disposal Monitoring
  • Shop Safety Training
  • Video Display Terminals
  • Ventilation
  • Videotapes: Safety Topics
  • Waste Minimization

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21. Training Checklist for Non-lab Work Areas

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22. Training Checklist for Lab & Research Areas

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23. Training Classes

EH&S provides training to help improve the working environment of NMSU employees as well as ensuring compliance with regulations related to safety, health and environment protection. Except for Defensive Driving these classes are free. Below are short descriptions for some of the classes offered. Additional information is provide for class listing schedule registration. If you have any questions, please call EH&S (646-3327) or visit EH&S website.

Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom). This required course covers NMSU’s written HazCom program, inventories, MSDSs, and labeling of chemicals in work areas.

Laboratory Standard (Lab. Std.). This class reviews the OSHA’s Lab Standard, chemical hygiene plans, SOPs and additional obligations for labs. Prerequisite: HazCom Class.

Radiation Safety This class covers regulations, requirements, and principles for radiation use in research.

Bloodborne Pathogens.
This course provide employees with information and training on precautions for dealing with blood, infectious materials and other biohazards.

Respiratory Safety and Fit Testing is required annually for all employees using respirators (including dust masks).

Defensive Driving Class (DDC) is required to drive a University vehicle. Be prepared to give your full name, address, date of birth, a current/valid driver’s license number, and a department account number ($$).

Laser Safety. This class covers legal requirements for setup and use of Class IIIb and IV lasers as well as typical hazards

Ergonomics focuses on improving performance and health, through the better workplace use and design.

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