Relocatable Power Taps  by Harry J. Oster

Commonly referred to as a “power strips", these devices, when properly used and listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), can safely accommodate several low wattage electrical appliances.  Appropriate uses include computers, certain laboratory equipment and home workshop tools and appliances. Power strips are only intended to be directly connected to a permanently installed electrical outlet.  They must be polarized or grounded and equipped with over-current protection.  Power strips are not to be:

  • Interconnected (daisy chained) with another strip or extension cord (see photo).
  • Used on construction sites and similar locations.
  • Permanently secured to any part of a building or stationary object.
  • Substituted for permanent wiring.
  • Installed through walls, windows, ceilings, floors.
  • Subjected to environmental or physical damage.
  • Used on high-power loads such space heaters, microwave ovens or refrigerators.

The improper use of power strips has been cited by the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) during their weekly laboratory inspections.  If you have been using extension cords or power strips, please contact EH&S for an assessment of your lab’s wiring set-up.

Photo shows prohibited “Daisy Chaining” – one power strip connected into another.

FDNY Annual Familiarization Drill by John LaPerche

The Tenth Annual Familiarization Drill with the FDNY and hosted by EH&S, was held at CUMC/NYPH campus on Saturday April 24th.  Local Washington Heights and upper Manhattan fire units including Engine 67, Engine 84, Ladder 45, Ladder 34, Battalion 13, and Division 3 along with specialty units, including Haz-Mat, Rescue 1 and Squad 41, were on site and focused on the tunnel systems under the buildings at the Medical Center. Also present were Facilities Operations, Public Safety, CU EH&S including Fire Safety and administrators from both NYPH and CUMC. The session began with all groups assembled in Alumni Auditorium for a PowerPoint presentation to introduce routine hazards that emergency responders might encounter throughout the campus. 

Following the presentation, the groups were led on a tour through the tunnels, stopping at the NYPH boiler plant, hazardous waste storage areas, high voltage areas and other areas of concern to the FDNY.  Many of the FDNY attendees were also responders to the 2009 fire in the basement of the Eye Institute, and stated that having prior knowledge of the layout of the tunnel system from previous drills was beneficial in finding the fire and extinguishing it safely without injury. Following the walk through, a “Lessons Learned” lunch session was held.

Fire Drill

University policy to all other uses of hypodermics

‘Sticks’ as the result of recapping hypodermic needles intended for disposal are among the most  preventable injuries in clinical and research settings.  They are also ‘illegal’ - OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (applicable when exposure potential to human blood, body fluids, etc. exists) prohibits needle recapping unless such action is medically necessary or can be safely accomplished using only one hand       technique.  This prohibition extends, as per University policy, to all other uses of hypodermics.  To facilitate needle disposal without the perceived need to recap, ensure that a ‘Sharp’ container is available as close as possible to needle use so that they can be discarded immediately after use.

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