Are All of Your People Accounted For? by Matthew O’Hanlon, Senior Fire Safety Officer

If the fire alarm sounded or an emergency necessitated a building evacuation, where would the personnel from your office, lab or work area meet to ensure all faculty, staff and students are safe and accounted for? 

If you are unsure, the time to develop an “emergency action plan” is now, before an event happens.
A good emergency action plan will include the following components:

  • Location of the closest emergency exits
  • Knowledge of alternative exits
  • A designated primary meeting location (a.k.a. muster point)
    • Permanent, specific and identifiable location that faculty, staff and students in your work area are familiar with, such as a building, statue, landmark, etc.
    • Should be remote from the evacuated building
      • Proximity to building might not be safe
      • Access to building must remain clear for Emergency Responders
  • Identification of a secondary meeting location
    • Extreme weather may warrant an indoor muster point
    • Magnitude of emergency (major gas leak, terrorism, etc.) may warrant a location further away from your primary muster point

Once assembled, plan to take a physical head count at the muster point rather than relying on electronic communication.  In the past, during major events, electronic communication has been compromised by call and data traffic related to the event itself, or by the authorities for safety reasons.  To ensure accountability, if you need to leave after meeting at your pre-determined location, inform more than one person from your office or work area.

A fire or emergency can happen at any time.  Account for your safety and the safety of your group by preparing a good evacuation plan including an agreed upon meeting location. 
Call Public Safety to report a fire or emergency:

  • CUMC (212) 305-797
  • Morningside (212) 854-5555

Please contact EH&S Fire Safety with questions: fire-life@columbia.edu

Shipping with Dry Ice? There’s a New Label for That
by Aderemi Dosunmu, Biological Safety Officer

Does your laboratory ship packages with Dry Ice? Please be aware that as of October 1, 2014 the USDOT, IATA and ICAO introduced new labels for placement on packages containing Dangerous Goods. The new Class 9 Dry Ice label removes the black horizontal line at the bottom of the vertical lines. Pictured is the old label alongside two images of the new label:

dot shippign sign

Shippers should order replacement labels from a supplier of these items, such as Grainger. EH&S can provide limited numbers for those who need to ship before their new labels are received. In addition, there is a new Class 6 Infectious Substances label. The new label for shipping Category A Substances removes the outer diamond and states that “In case of damage or leakage immediately notify the Public Health Authority”. Pictured is the old label and an image of the new label:

dot sign2

Please note that RASCAL certification courses do not cover shipment of Category A substances. EH&S must be notified of any intention to ship Category A substances (UN2814 or UN2900), so we may assist in the safe packaging and compliant documentation of such shipments. Contact EH&S at hazshipping@columbia.edu.

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