UNION-MANAGEMENT SAFETY COMMITTEE
August 2023 Meeting Minutes
The monthly meeting of the Union-Management Safety Committee was conducted on August 8th, 2023 by the Environmental Health and Safety department with the following individuals in attendance:
Kathy Cain-Babbitt A AFSCME
Kelly Duncan A Landscape Services
Cory Ghiringhelli A Environmental Health and Safety
Mark Heeres A Dining Services
Devin Johnson A Maintenance Services
Darrel Junkins A Landscape Services
Justin Keech A Custodial Services
Pat Lem A Maintenance Services
Keith Pung A Environmental Health and Safety
Vince Renda A Maintenance Services
Judy Slumkoski A Custodial Services
Laura Weber VA Legal Affairs, Risk, and Compliance
Mark Weiss A Environmental Health and Safety
Jake Woods A Environmental Health and Safety
In-Person Attendance: (A)
Virtual Attendance: (VA)
Juanita Snell previously shared an update regarding break locations that are used by Custodial Service personnel. It was previously mentioned that some of these spaces are individual rooms/closets where cleaning and other chemicals are stored. Committee members discussed why these areas are being utilized as break locations, chemical/electrical concerns, and whether a survey can be performed to ensure designated break locations are safe to use. Jake opened a dialogue with Custodial Services leadership who informed him that they plan on performing an audit of the break room spaces to make sure that they are suitable for taking breaks, and if they find out they are not, will designate other areas to be utilized. Juanita stated that some of the surveyed locations have had chairs and tables mobilized; assessment of the remaining break locations is ongoing. Committee discussions from the July meeting resulted in three buildings being requested to be prioritized; Dalton Center, Kohrman Hall, and South Kohrman Hall. Jake Woods will reach out to Custodial Services for an update and provide a follow up at the August meeting.
Jake Woods shared an update to the public safety concern regarding a situation where a Custodial Services employee’s personal vehicle was broken into while parked in lot #51 (lower Sindecuse Health Center). Laura Weber previously mentioned that University insurance does not cover personal belongings whether they are located in personal or University vehicles. December Committee discussions involved an inquiry for lockable lockers for Custodial Services personnel. Jake shared an update from Juanita stating that the lockers were re-purposed from Bernhard Center to Sindecuse Health Center; Justin Keech mentioned that the lockers were installed at Sindecuse Health Center.
Jake Woods shared an update regarding the center stairs / seating area issue in the Student Center. The stairs and seating are composed of the same material; there is no differentiation between color, surface texture, etc. This lack of delineation between steps and seating area (where a significant drop relative to the steps is present) may contribute to a personal injury due to its design and materials used; particularly hazardous to persons who are blind or have low vision. Jake investigated the situation and made the concerns known to the WMU-FM project manager. A detailed response was provided which stated that the center seating / stairwell was constructed per current Michigan Building Code. The response message indicated a railing could be installed at the top of the landings but would be classified as “owner added”; it was not known at the August meeting if the additional railing would be pursued.
Jake Woods shared an update to the safety concern regarding exterior door schedule and the recent presence of an unauthorized individual at the Seeyle Center. Previous committee discussions included observation of some exterior doors being unlocked during early morning hours. An unauthorized individual was observed to be in the 2nd floor of the facility by Custodial Services personnel and public safety was contacted. Jake brought the situation to the attention of University Athletics and the WMU Department of Public Safety. He was informed that the building is currently locked 24/7 and they would work together to investigate the situation.
Justin Keech introduced a safety concern involving an open door at the Bill Brown complex. Custodial Services personnel observed an exterior door to be propped open with accompanying active door alarm. Personnel were unsure who had propped the door open, how long the door/alarm had been in its condition, or if any response from Public Safety was to be expected. Jake Woods will investigate, bring to the attention of University Athletics and WMU DPS, and provide a follow up.
Kelly Duncan expressed safety concerns regarding herbicide/pesticide usage within the Landscape Services department. Kelly stated that some of the substances being utilized have been recently changed (manufacturer, concentrations, types, etc.) and that employees have not been adequately trained. She also expressed distress with equipment such as measuring cups and other devices not being equally distributed amongst the various Landscape Services regional areas. Mark Weiss will investigate and provide a follow up.
Justin Keech expressed a safety concern involving interior lighting at Miller Auditorium. Justin mentioned that some lighting fixtures have been found to be nonworking or randomly having issues; these include areas such as bathrooms and other spaces without windows. Maintenance Services electricians have been contacted and helped to get isolated issues resolved but the situation appears to be systemic. Devin Johnson will investigate and provide a follow up.
Mark Heeres stated that issues with elevator doors at the Student Center have been observed by Dining Service personnel. A recent situation occurred where the doors closed quickly/unexpectedly on an employee that resulted in a contusion injury. It was mentioned during discussion that both of the building’s elevators seem to have the same issue. Jake Woods will investigate and provide a follow up.
Mark Heeres mentioned that the main entry doors, facing Sangren Hall, at the Student Center were observed to close very quickly and open more difficult than expected. Adjustments to the door opening mechanism may be needed. Devin Johnson will investigate and provide a follow up.
Kathy Cain-Babbitt expressed appreciation to Mark Weiss for recent training he conducted with the Landscape Services department regarding insect disease prevention. She also thanked him for recent acknowledgment of the Canadian wildfire smoke and how it may have impacted employees. Monitoring of air-quality and issuance of alerts similar to the WMU heat stress program were implemented.
Jake Woods mentioned he investigated and found an alternative source for real-time heat stress (wet bulb globe temperature) data. The National Weather Service offers a user-friendly map which provides updated measurements. Information can be found on an EHS Department website spotlight: https://wmich.edu/ehs or directly from the NWS at: https://digital.mdl.nws.noaa.gov/?zoom=4&lat=37&lon=-96.5&layers=F000BTT....
Jake Woods shared that the National Safety Council recognizes August as Back to School Month. This is an annual observance held each year highlighting the importance of being mindful that students are soon returning to their places of learning. Whether students walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus, it is extremely important for everyone take proper safety precautions. Further information can be found at: https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/school-safety/school-...?.
The next UMSC meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023 in the shared conference room located on the ground floor of the E.W. Building at 10:00 a.m.; an invitation to attend via video conferencing platform (WebEx) will also be sent out with these minutes. Please send a substitute representative if you are unable to attend.