Occupational Health and Safety Programs

OSHA's Mission

With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. Our programs meet the requirements set forth by OSHA. 

Information regarding the institutes occupational safety and health programs is provided below:

Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Asbestos has been used in products, such as insulation for pipes (steam lines for example), floor tiles, building materials, and in-vehicle brakes and clutches. Heavy exposures tend to occur in the construction industry and in ship repair, particularly during the removal of asbestos materials due to renovation, repairs, or demolition.

Asbestos Awareness training provides information to assist to identify work areas where asbestos may be present, understand the harmful effects of asbestos, describe methods to avoid asbestos exposure, and become familiar with OSHA and EPA standards designed to protect workers on the job site.

NOTE: This training is NOT for those workers that perform asbestos abatement activities and does not provide equipment training for workers required to use personal protective equipment (PPE) on the job site. 

Reducing the risk of workplace exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens is contained within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations set forth in 29 CFR 1910.1030. 

See: Bloodborne Pathogens Page

This program contains the practices and procedures required to comply with OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.146 - Permit-Required Confined Spaces. Confined space entry can be a hazardous operation and requires a system of controls to protect personnel from entering the space. Those who have no need to enter a confined space are prohibited from doing so.

Confined Space Entry Program

Confined Space Entry Permit Form

This program contains the practices and procedures required to comply with the OSHA standards addressing fall protection during work at heights (29 CFR 1926 Subpart M: Fall Protection, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart L: Scaffolds, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart X: Ladders, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D: Walking-Working Surfaces, and 29 CFR 1910 Subpart R: Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution). Falls from elevation are a major cause of accidents and fatalities in the workplace. The installation of fall protection equipment and its proper maintenance and use, coupled with employee training on recognizing fall hazards, substantially decreases the risk of injury-causing falls from rooftops and other heights.

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) contracted a civil engineering firm, Ryan-Biggs Associates of Troy, NY, to conduct a survey of Rensselaer roofs and to recommend fall protection options for Rensselaer buildings. 

Fall Protection Program

Request for roof access procedure with chemical fume hood shut down required

Appendix 2 Fall Proctection Roof Access Information

Chemical Fume Hood/BSC Shutdown Notice

Any employee who operates a department powered industrial truck must first receive operator safety training and an evaluation of their operating skills. Training must be repeated at least every three years. Please contact EHS if your department intends to purchase or rent a new powered industrial truck, as additional training may be needed. A powered industrial truck is defined by OSHA as any mobile power-propelled truck used to carry, push, pull, lift, stack or tier materials. Examples include forklifts, pallet jacks, low lift jacks.

Forklift Pre-Shift Inspection Form

Powered Industrial Truck Program

The purpose of Rensselaer’s Hazard Communication Program is to provide written procedures and guidelines to comprehensively address the process of evaluating the potential hazards of chemicals, and the communication of hazards and appropriate personal protective measures to Rensselaer employees, contractors and visitors. The communication of chemical hazards is the responsibility of all individuals in the campus community and is coordinated through EHS. Hazard Communication involves the use of Safety Data Sheets (SDS), container labeling and other forms of warning, information and training and comprehensive risk assessment. The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), under OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard and the Right to know.

Hazard Communication Program

Posters: See All

Hazardous Energy Control Program to protect our employees from the accidental start-up of a machine or the release of stored energy during the service, maintenance, and installation of process and/or utility equipment and systems. This program contains the practices and procedures required to comply with OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.147 – Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout).

Lockout/Tagout Program

Appendices I

Appendices II

Hand and power tools are a common part of our everyday lives and are present throughout RPI's campus.  These tools help us to easily perform tasks that otherwise would be difficult or impossible. However, these simple tools can be hazardous and have the potential for causing severe injuries when used or maintained improperly. Special attention toward hand and power tool safety is necessary in order to reduce or eliminate these hazards.  This program contains practices to comply with, but not limited to OSHA's standards: 29 CFR 1910.211, 212, 213, 215, 219, 147, 241, 242, 243, 244, 301, 399,  and ANSI B11.

Ladders are tools.  Many of the basic safety rules that apply to most tools also apply to the safe use of a ladder.  Ladder safety training is a tool for the proper selection, care and safe use of ladders, including stepladders, single and extension, articulated and mobile ladders.  Choosing the right ladder for the job.


This program contains the practices and procedures required to comply with all OSHA standards addressing PPE.  Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.

Silica is a name given to a group of minerals composed of silicon and oxygen.  Commonly found in the crystalline state.  Silica is sand; quartz. Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is very small particles typically at least 100 time smaller than ordinary sand at the beach.  Generated by high energy operations, like, but not limited to: cutting sawing grinding, drilling and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick and mortar.

Training provides information to assist to identify work areas, materials and work practices to understand the harmful effects of RCS.  Understand the methods to be used to avoid exposure.

It is the intention of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to provide a safe, healthful environment for all work activities, research and learning. This program is designed to provide information and requirements regarding respiratory protection to achieve that goal. The use of respiratory protection at Rensselaer is largely directed by the requirements contained in OSHA regulations, specifically 29 CFR 1910.134. A component of this regulation is the concept of achieving exposure control through the determination and implementation of engineering controls whenever feasible. When such controls are not feasible to achieve adequate exposure control, personal protective equipment and/or other protective measures must be used. A respirator is any device intended to protect the user from airborne contaminants and/or oxygen-deficient environments. The selection and proper usage of respiratory protection is a critical component of the desired result of exposure control. Significant amounts of information must be known about the contaminants and the environment in which respirators will be utilized to provide adequate protection.

Respiratory Protection Program


Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and salespeople, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. OSHA's electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions. Training can include awareness (Percipio), authorized, NFPA 70E (Percipio and classroom) and other areas under electrical standards.

Ergonomics is the process of identifying job-related tasks and then matching the working conditions to human capabilities.

Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors for Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) increases a worker's risk of injury. Work-related MSDs can be prevented. Ergonomics --- fitting a job to a person --- helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs.

Indoor Air Quality

Several factors can affect the indoor air quality (IAQ) in a building. Most often, poor IAQ is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in cleaning, maintenance, or personal products, from vehicle exhaust that becomes entrained in the air intake, or a lack of adequate airflow to the office space. Sometimes, indoor air quality can be impacted by mold and fungal growth. IAQ problems are hard to track down due to the variety of potential sources and the variation associated with their occurrence on a day-to-day basis.

How EHS can help

We have several instruments to monitor IAQ. Our instruments can measure or sample for:

  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Temperature
  • Airborne particles
  • Humidity
  • Volatile Organic Compounds

Unfortunately, there is no single instrument (the mythical “Magic Sniffer”) that can test the air and conclusively identify all contaminants. Identifying the source of an IAQ problem requires knowledge of the potential sources of contaminants and a way to test for them.

If you are experiencing discomfort from the air quality in your building contact EHS at 518-276-6427 and we will conduct an evaluation, collect samples if necessary, and make recommendations based on the results.

Before you call…

To save yourself some time and perhaps some frustration, there are things you can do to investigate poor IAQ conditions in your office.

  1. Plants can be a source of mold and fungi that may cause allergies. If there plants in your work area, experiment with moving one or more types out at a time and see if the reaction is less over the next few days.
  2. Some perfumes, lotions, deodorants, etc. can cause reactions in people who have a greater sensitivity. Be cognizant of the people in your area and their sensitivities.
  3. If you have a refrigerator near or in your office, check it for outdated goods.
  4. Peek in a few garbage cans in case someone just threw away one of the outdated goods from the refrigerator.
  5. If all else fails, email us at ehs-rm@rpi.edu.

Appendix II Occupant Diary

Indoor Air Quality Program

  • Damp indoor environments caused by water leaks, floods or high humidity can lead to the growth of mold and other microbial organisms. Uncontrolled mold and microbial growth and exposure to building dampness can be associated with respiratory symptoms. For people who are sensitive to molds, exposure can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation.
  • If you see or suspect mold growth in your building, report it to FIXX@rpi.edu
  • Contact EHS at ehs-rm@rpi.edu, if you have health concerns related to mold and microbial growth.
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