Mercury Pollution Prevention – On September 25, Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) safely disassembled and disposed of a large 12 foot tall mercury manometer on campus.
Records indicate it was “donated” to NMSU a number of years ago. Mercury is a toxic metal that the EPA encourages being phased out whenever possible.
Acquisition of gifts that involve hazardous materials or contain regulated hazardous components must be approved by (EH&S) prior to acquisition.
The annual lab safety refreshers are set for
Oct 23; and
More details are provided at http://safety.nmsu.edu/news/updates/2014-fall-lab-refresher.html
PEC Removal – On September 11, EH&S safely removed Chloromethyl Methyl Ether and other PEC chemicals from a campus lab.
Following the approved Safety Plan for the project, Luis Moralez suited up in appropriate flash fire resistant PPE and respirator as his final prep for the project.
Upon removal and testing the Chloromethyl Methyl Ether crystals was negative for peroxides and for oxidizing potential, but did appear to have a low pH. The PEC waste was packaged in a DOT Inhalation Zone A Box and moved to the EH&S Hazardous Waste Facility.
The additional Nitrobenzene bottle that had visible crystals and other residue on the bottom of the shelf and surrounding bottles were wiped down. The rags, pH paper, PPE, etc. were placed inside a four liter jar for disposal as hazardous waste as well.
Comments/recommendation: prevention is preferred to avoid the potential peroxide safety issues and expenditure of resources (time, dollars, sweat). Researchers are reminded to abide with the NMSU Peroxide Policy to prevent this problem.
On September 10th, 11th & 12th, EH&S provided five 4-hr long refresher training sessions on maintenance safety.
Agenda:(August 29, 2014 Email Announcement)
1. Loss Prevention;
2. Injury review to date;
3. Safety Training: update & procedures;
4. Lab Inspection update;
5. Initiative on Safety, Health & Security;
6. Safety protection: Plumbing & Hot Works;
7. Traffic Safety citations;
8. Utility Cart usage & users;
9. Controlled access enforcement;
10. Asbestos & mold abatements progress;
11. Environmental programs activities;
12. Bicycle Safety program;
[posted July 25, 2014]
EH&S has recently been assisting FS plumbing with new and old sewer access points to ensure safety.
Imaged here is David Avalos, Plumber Lead, working with Ginger Parker, EH&S (taking the photo), in measuring the steel cover guard. This guard is used to help keep employees out of danger when working at the Knox Street sanitary lift station.
Parker, Safety Specialist, and JoAnne Depuy, Biosafety Officer, have also been assessing the occupational hazards for plumbers and similar employees.
As a result EH&S is providing revised training on blood borne pathogens and have recommended additional personal protective equipment.
[posted June 26, 2014]
Phase 1 Hazardous Waste Project - Over the last four months Environmental Health & Safety teamed up with the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department to clean out old legacy, expired and unwanted hazardous chemicals and samples that had been stored in department laboratories and chemical storage areas and no longer useable. Phase 1 of the clean out was completed when over 2,000 labeled chemical containers were bulked into 46 waste drums (2400 lbs) and shipped off campus for final disposal.
The shipment included 38 compressed gas cylinders (lecture-size bottles), 11 of which were highly hazardous Poison Inhalation Hazard gases. General information on NMSUs Hazardous Waste Management Program is provided at http://safety.nmsu.edu/program-link.htm#Hazardous%20Waste%20Management
Phase 2 of the project will include contracting with a special high hazard chemist to deactivate remaining peroxide formers and other highly reactive chemicals. The chemist will also characterize all the remaining unknown / unlabeled chemical containers prior to them being packed and shipped for proper disposal.
[posted June 26, 2014]
EH&S Radiation Safety Manager, Dave Schoep, accompanied an inspector from the Radiation Control Bureau on June 19. He reviewed our program compliance with the New Mexico State Radiation Protection Regulations; the terms and conditions listed on the NMSU Broad Scope Radioactive Materials License; and the various X-Ray Certificates of Registration. Information on the NMSU Radiation Safety Program is on the EH&S website under safety programs at http://safety.nmsu.edu/program-link.htm#Radiation%20Safety
The scope of the audit was wide and included a review of the many types of NMSU Radiation Safety Program written and electronic records; inspection of representative labs that are permitted for radioactive material use and labs where various analytical and medical x-rays machines are used. They also met with University Radiation Safety Committee chair Dr. Dennis Hallford.
Overall, the inspection went very well and we received several compliments from the inspector about many components of the program. At the close out meeting the inspector indicated that there will be no negative findings or warnings cited in the final report from NMED.
[posted June11, 2014]
Environmental, Health & Safety provided an environmental protection presentation on the campus Storm Water Management Program to the Sustainability Council on June 11.
Jack Kirby, EH&S Assistant Director, showed the varied components of the program and NMSU's progress with the storm sewer discharge management as required by the program. The 2013 annual report for NMSU's SWMP permit is available at http://safety.nmsu.edu/programs/environmental/NMSU2013AnnualSWMPReport.pdf
Questions from the group noted metrics and enforcement (e.g. who is watching, penalties), as well as concerns on what else can be done to help prevent pollution of New Mexico's precious water resources.
[posted May 21, 2014]
Environmental, Health & Safety helped intern three students from the College of Engineering during the 2013-2014 academic year. Student Interns under Kenny Stevens, Engineering Technology, worked with Jack Kirby, EH&S Asst. Director, on activities related to the NMSU Storm Water Management Program. Abdulaziz Alhuraiti and Spencer Diaz were involved in identifying and describing drainage basins and inventorying storm water control structures, and Jared Richardson prepared a conceptual design to control runoff from the corrals located in the western portion of the Las Cruces campus. The experience was positive for both parties, as EH&S was able to progress with two components of the EPA-required storm sewer discharge permit, and the students were able to work alongside an engineer degreed in their chosen fields of study.
EH&S also recently partnered with a student society to complete an inspection of NMSU storm water outfall structures. EH&S joined up with Beta Alpha Psi, an honors fraternity for NMSU Accounting students, for this endeavor. For Beta Alpha Psi, the activity was a community service required by their charter. For EH&S, it was student outreach for storm water education, a requirement of the NMSU Storm Water Management Program.
[posted May 2014]
EH&S has recently been working closely with a High Hazard Remediation contractor to stabilize 50 potentially explosive chemicals that were picked up from a variety of departments on campus (photo). EH&S also worked with this contractor to identify an additional 50 unlabeled chemicals picked up from campus laboratory operations.
Moving forward, these stabilized and identified waste materials were shipped out this month with other hazardous waste for incineration as needed under EPA rules.
The explosive expert noted that NMSU departments could easily prevent the costly work needed to stabilize & identify the chemicals by marking the identity and dates on these type chemicals when received and by using good inventory control.
Hopefully EH&S will receive less of these potentially explosive & unknown waste chemicals in the future.
Information on the NMSU laboratory safety program is at http://safety.nmsu.edu/program-link.htm#Laboratory%20Safety and information on chemical decommissioning is at http://safety.nmsu.edu/programs/haz_wst/NMSU_LabDeconFrm.pdf----
[posted May 2, 2014]
The Environmental Protection Agency requires water system operators to test and publish an annual report on the quality of water delivered. NMSU, through Facility Services (FS), owns and operates the campus water system.
The NMSU Consumer Confidence Report describing the 2013 testing and NMSUs water quality was emailed to the NMSU Community in April. NMSU provides a very good quality drinking water that is safe and has not exceeded any contaminant levels established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency "Safe Drinking Water Standards" during the past year. In order to ensure the quality of our water, the New Mexico Environment Department and Facilities & Services Plumbing Department routinely sample the water supply and test for over 125 contaminants.
For more information on where your campus water comes from, what it contains, and how it compares to standards set by regulatory agencies, please read the 2013 Consumer Confidence Report. A copy of the report is available under environmental programs on the EH&S website at NMSU 2013 Consumer Confidence Water Report or via the Facilities & Services website library at http://goo.gl/c0q2x4
More: Information and reports on EPA water standards & contaminants as well as frequently asked questions on water quality are available at
[posted April 2014]
Safety comes first – Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) conducted an onsite inspection at Taos for the Room Rodeo Kick-off. EH&S checked the electric cords, cushion surrounding the activity, liability waiver, insurance certificate, and someone had to test the mechanical bull for safe operations. Assistant EH&S Director, David Shearer, stayed on the bull for a short time, had fun and landed safely. This modernized Aggie tradition includes an activity review and inspection. There are approximately 90 safety reviews each year of Campus Activities that involve various types of events.
[posted March 2014]
On February 28, Environmental Health & Safety trained seven Dona Ana Community College facility employees in tractor & equipment safety. Jose L. Gamon, Safety Specialist, instructed this training with assistance from Louie Hinojos, Facilities & Services Groundskeeper. Jose also provides Forklift, Aerial Lift and Boom Truck Safety courses that are designed to impart rules and practices for a safe operation of the equipment. He utilizes video presentations, classroom exercises and "hands-on" operation. The courses are designed to expose the trainees to a safe and efficient operation of the equipment per OSHA regulations, which will ultimately lead to the elimination of hazards in the work area. A partial list & description of EH&S training classes is provided at http://safety.nmsu.edu/training/class_desc_outline.htm#Class%20List .
[posted Feb 2014]
Luis Morales, EH&S environmental manager, lead a new initiative to recycle NMSU sealed lead acid batteries and non-PCB ballasts with local recycler USA Can Recycling Warehouse.
A meeting with USA Can management and a tour of the facility resulted in the facility being deemed acceptable for receipt of NMSU materials. USA Can will also pay NMSU by the pound for sealed lead acid batteries and non-PCB ballasts received for recycling. EH&S delivered ~3,000 pounds of batteries and ballasts and NMSU received a rebate check for ~$600.
In the past NMSU batteries and ballasts were sent to Phoenix for recycling for a modest fee, moving forward sealed lead acid batteries and Non-PCB ballasts will now continue to be recycled in Las Cruces which will result in additional cost savings/direct rebate checks.
The NMSU 2013 OSHA 300 log, a summary of 2013 NMSU accidents/injury, is posted on our safety.nmsu.edu website.
[posted Jan 13, 2014]
On Jan 13, Environmental Health & Safety honored David A. Rockstraw, Chemical Engineering Department Head, as a “Friend of Safety.” He was recognized for his efforts to enhance the culture of environmental health and safety and steps he has taken to improve laboratory safety at NMSU.
Katrina Doolittle, Executive Director for EH&S, presented the award at a laboratory safety seminar titled, Improving the Culture of Safety at NMSU, which was attended by 80 faculty and staff from the College of Engineering who learned about roles and responsibilities for safety and their important leadership role in promoting a positive safety culture.
University Communicaton NEWS release:
NMSU Chemical Engineering department head honored with safety award