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Vols Keep an Eye Out for Safety

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month.

In one year the Unites States workforce had over 18,000 work related eye-injuries that resulted in lost time. This number does not account for some minor injuries or those that may occur with non-employed students.

EHS would like to remind the campus community of the eye hazards that we face and how best to reduce risk.

An infographic that reminds Vols to Keep an eye out for safety. Eye safety is more than a pair of safety glasses. Students in labs, Facilities Services workers, and even those working at home may face a risk. Use the correct controls and PPE to prevent injury from hazards such as chemicals, projectiles, and intense light.

What can you do?

Recognize the Hazards and Minimize the risk

Chemical splashes

Chemical splashes, especially from corrosive chemicals such as strong acids or bases can cause severe eye damage. It doesn’t need to be a big splash from a large volume of corrosives. Even small splashes can have sever consequences.

If you use corrosive chemicals you may require protection with chemical splash goggles.


Dust particles, or other debris can be thrown from grinders, lathes, mills, landscaping equipment or other machines.

Use machines properly, with all guards in place. Only use equipment you are trained to use and follow all danger, warning, and caution tags. Use appropriate impact protection such as safety glasses, impact, goggles, and faceshields.

Light Hazards

Some ultraviolet (UV) lamps and some lasers can pose a risk if they are intense enough.

Most systems are designed to automatically protect workers through shielding and guide tubes.

Consult EHS if assistance is needed.

Learn more this month as we post on these special topics

EHS will provide additional posts and media throughout March

Check out our Digital Resources

Download our digital signs and other resources here.


Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Recharge Safely

Many devices use rechargeable batteries at UT, at home, or out and about in our mobile lives. Rechargeable batteries can store a concentrate amount of energy and can overheat, catch fire, or explode if not handled properly.

Rechargeable batteries present significant issues that have caused damage on the UTK campus. The burned laptop shown here is believed to have been the origin of a fire that caused significant damage in Strong Hall in 2019.

Other incidents have been reported around the University of Tennessee System. It is very important that we follow some basic guidelines when handling rechargeable batteries in our offices, industrial areas, or laboratories.

Infographic of with battery icon indicating to charge safely.

What can you do?

  • Only use devices that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and only use batteries and charging equipment designed for the device.
  • Keep batteries at room temperature. Avoid direct sunlight or hot vehicles.
  • Store batteries away from flammable or combustible materials.
  • If you are recharging a vehicle or other lead-acid battery it is also important to ensure that your charging station has adequate ventilation. Recharging lead-acid batteries generates flammable and odorless hydrogen gas.

Remember these tips and consult EHS if you have questions.

Water and Electricity Don’t Mix

On the UTK campus or even when doing remote work we can encounter wet conditions. For example we may have maintenance or engineering shops that spray water for machines or cleaning. Some areas may use water for washing down other areas as well. When water is present it’s important to keep electricity away. A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is one way to achieve that goal.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) describes GFCIs as follows

A ground-fault occurs when there is a break in the low-resistance grounding path from a tool or electrical system. The electrical current may then take an alternative path to the ground through the user, resulting in serious injuries or death. The ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. It works by comparing the amount of current going to and returning from equipment along the circuit conductors. When the amount going differs from the amount returning by approximately 5 milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the current.

The GFCI is rated to trip quickly enough to prevent an electrical incident. If it is properly installed and maintained, this will happen as soon as the faulty tool is plugged in. If the grounding conductor is not intact or of low-impedance, the GFCI may not trip until a person provides a path. In this case, the person will receive a shock, but the GFCI should trip so quickly that the shock will not be harmful.

The GFCI will not protect you from line contact hazards (i.e. a person holding two “hot” wires, a hot and a neutral wire in each hand, or contacting an overhead power line). However, it protects against the most common form of electrical shock hazard, the ground-fault. It also protects against fires, overheating, and destruction of wire insulation.

What Can You Do?

  • Wherever water is sprayed or pooled, electricity can become a dangerous shock hazard.
  • Ensure all electrical outlets within four feet of a water source are protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet, also known as a GFCI.
  • Test your GFCI outlet every time you use it.
  • If not working correctly, report it to Facilities Services One Call 865-946-7777 or

How do you test a GFCI?

  • Every time you use a GFCI you should ensure it works properly
  • First plug in a device such as a lamp.
  • Turn on the device.
  • Press the Test button to trip the GFCI.
  • If the lamp turns off then the test is successful; If not, discontinue use of the circuit and contact Facilities Services.

Learn more

For more information check out this OSHA article and eTool on different types of GFCIs especially those that apply in construction and remote work.


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