Reporter: Anita Adams
Knowing safety procedures are an important part of the life of someone who works in a lab. It reduces a person’s chance of becoming hurt and it also allows a person to know how to respond in the event of an emergency. On Monday June 20, 2005 a man named Mr. Todd McIntyre gave a presentation to the NASA SHARP apprentices on the proper safety procedures and precautions one should take while working in a lab. Throughout this presentation, the apprentices learned about direct and indirect cause factors, things not to do while handling equipment, prevention of injuries and the three different types of injuries, prevention of blood contamination, and fire safety.
Mr. McIntyre opened up his presentation by first introducing himself and telling the students were he worked and what he was in charge of. Afterward, he went around the room and asked all twenty students information about themselves such as their name, where they were from, and what company they were going to be working for as an apprentice. He also asked each student what their intended major for college was. Before getting into the presentation he explained that he would be asking questions and that whoever got it right would receive a Hershey’s chocolate and almond nugget. That gave everyone in the room the incentive to answer the questions that he had and not be fearful or shy.
After surveying everyone and explaining what he was going to be talking about and the rewards, he opened up his presentation with a video taken form an actual camera in a work area. In the film one sees a woman working at a work station in a lab. While she is working, two people walk by. One opens up a door in the floor that leads to a cellar and leaves it open. The other person goes and begins to talk to someone who is in the lab. None of the two people tell the woman that the door to the cellar is open. The woman turns from her work station and begins to walk. Not noticing the open cellar door, she falls through the door and down the stairs into the cellar. Upon request from the students, Mr. McIntyre showed the video a second time. From this he discusses the topic of direct and indirect cause factors. The direct cause factor of an accident like this would be the person leaving the door open and the indirect cause factor would be the two people not telling the woman that they had left the cellar door open.
Another topic that Mr. McIntyre discussed was the things that one should not do in a lab or in general when it comes to handling equipment. He showed several different situations in a slide show where people were using equipment incorrectly and dangerously. Some situations include: a person using a forklift to pick up another forklift that has a man standing on it holding a box, a man changing a light bulb while standing on a ladder that is in a pool with the electrical cord close to the water, a man welding something underneath a car near the gas tank while using two four by fours to hold the car up, a man watching people handle hazardous materials while not wearing the proper safety garment, etc. The SHARP apprentices enjoyed looking at people do silly things that common sense should automatically tell a person not to do.
Prevention of injuries was the main reason Mr. McIntyre had come to give his presentation. He began to talk to everyone about different injury and illness prevention programs that employers put into place in order to ensure that their employees remain safe. He told the apprentices that most jobs have prevention programs and that they should try to find one where they would be working. There were also injury reports that he had collected from his work site. The reports showed the comparison between the numbers of injuries throughout the years. Another comparison that the students saw was between the three different types of injuries that occur in the workplace. Mr. McIntyre also explained the three different types of injuries. They are as follows: a. an injury that only requires a “quick fix” such as a band-aid, b. an injury that can require more than a band-aid and causes the worker to have to leave the job for the rest of the day and c. an injury that causes the worker to miss several days of work.
Next, Mr. McIntyre talked about the proper way to handle blood and prevent blood contamination. He first asked us what blood pathogens were. Afterward he began to explain the different types of viruses that can pass through the blood and infect someone. He mainly talked about Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS. The students were informed that a person can take a shot within a day of being exposed to a pathogen such as Hepatitis that might prevent the disease from developing. Also, he further explained the myth about blood not being able to infect a person after it dries. Although the pathogens are no longer harmful if the blood is dry, if someone was to wet the blood, the disease reactivates and can contaminate another’s blood. The best thing a person can do when they see blood is close off the area and get proper personnel to come and take care of the situation. Each job has people that deal with situations such as blood contamination. The personnel should have protective gear that stops them from being harmed. If one should become contaminated with blood they should immediately notify their manager.
The last thing that was discussed was fire safety and procedures. The apprentices learned how to react to fires and what to do in case of one. Mr. McIntyre actually retrieved a fire extinguisher from the hallway and gave a demonstration on how to use it. He even taught the apprentices how to read the label on the front that would inform them of what type of fire extinguisher it was. First one pulls the tab, aims the nozzle and then presses the handle to release the contents. The apprentices were informed that if there was a fire they should try to leave the building and not put out the flames because they would put themselves in danger. He also informed the interns that the sprinkler system would come on and put out the flames. The last piece of advice Mr. McIntyre gave was to get low to the floor if there was smoke and to use the back of the hand to check to see if door knobs were hot.
At the end of the presentation, the students had a wealth of information on basic lab procedures and safety information. They learned how to prevent accidents by being observant of their surroundings and informing others about dangerous objects in their paths. They also learned to use wise judgment and common sense. The students were informed about prevention programs that keep workers safe and different injuries have different effects on the amount of time the worker has to take off as a result of it. The last two important things that were learned were how to prevent blood contamination and how to be safe during fires. Not only did the students leave with a lot of new crucial information, they also left with Hershey’s chocolate-and-almond-filled stomachs.