General Safety

The following sections provide general safety guidelines and procedures:

  1. UT Policies on Safety and Health
  2. General Safety
  3. Safety Suggestions and Hazard Reporting
  4. Office Safety
  5. Safety and Health Inspections
  6. Motor Vehicle Safety
  7. Fire/Life Safety
  8. Electrical Safety
  9. Shop Safety
  10. Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Program
  11. Confined Spaces

Accident Investigation and Reporting

Most accidents are caused by the failure of people, equipment, materials, or environments to behave or react as expected. Accident investigations are an important part of the Institute’s accident prevention program; they are performed to determine how and why these failures occurred and to prevent similar or more serious additional accidents.

It is the responsibility of supervisors to perform an accident investigation on all injuries or accidents. Accident investigations are to be conducted with prevention in mind and should not be done to place blame.

Most accidents can be prevented by eliminating one or more causes. Accidents are analyzed to determine not only what happened, but how and why. The investigator should examine each event as well as the sequence of events that led to the accident. The accident type is also important. The recurrence of accidents of a particular type, or those with common causes, indicates areas needing special accident prevention emphasis.


All accidents occurring at UTIA that result in injury must be investigated and reported. Untimely reports result in delayed claims. Incidents (accidents involving no medical treatment or time lost) must be reported on a Report of an Occurrence form. The employee is responsible for reporting work-related injuries/illnesses to the immediate supervisor as soon as possible. Accidents involving medical treatment or time lost must be reported on the State of Tennessee Division of Claims Administration form TR-0213 and the Supervisors Report of Accident Investigation. These forms are included as Appendix A of the Emergency Response Plan. The supervisor must discuss the incident with the employee and any witnesses before completing the reports. The supervisor must also make any necessary changes in procedures or conditions to prevent similar accidents. All injuries to students and visitors on UTIA property should be investigated and reported on the Report of an Occurrence form. The responsibility for reporting has been assigned to the instructor or department administrator who was in charge of the area, class, or function during which the student or visitor was injured. It is important to include all pertinent information about the accident and the names of any witnesses. All completed forms shall be forwarded as soon as possible to UT Human Resources, Office of Benefits and Retirement.

Worker’s Compensation

The current Worker’s Compensation Policy can be found in the UT Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual section 397. Please refer to this policy for further information or call the Worker’s Compensation Administrator in the UT Office of Benefits and Retirement at 974-4341 for questions or comments about this program.

Accident Prevention Signs and Tags

A ‘sign’ means that which is prepared for warning or safety instructions for employees or the public that may be exposed to these hazards. All signs at the UTIA are to be in accordance with the Occupational Health and Administration’s regulation, 29CFR1910.145. Examples of each sign follow each description.

American with Disabilities Act

UTIA complies with the requirements and guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that new facilities and renovations to existing facilities are designed to provide accessibility for handicapped people. Handicapped parking and wheelchair ramps must remain accessible at all times. Do not block these areas or tamper with other accessibility equipment. In addition, do no remove Braille tabs on elevator buttons or other signs. Report accessibility violations such as blocked wheelchair ramps and blocked handicapped parking to the Safety Office, Parking Services (4-6031), or the UTIA Director of Services (4-7159).


Asbestos is a mineral fiber that causes cancer and various respiratory illnesses. Older buildings constructed prior to 1980 may contain asbestos. Asbestos is commonly found in older appliances, insulation, shingles, flooring materials, siding, putties, and caulking. Generally, it is not a problem unless the material that contains it crumbles or flakes. The Tennessee asbestos regulations do not require building owners to conduct inspections and identify all asbestos locations. Inspections, however, have been performed on all UT facilities. Important: Do not handle asbestos or suspect asbestos or try to remove it yourself. UTIA has an ongoing Asbestos Management Program that strives to eliminate the potential hazards associated with asbestos. The Physical Plant handles contracts for consultation and/or abatement. Direct any questions about asbestos to the Safety Office.

Confined Space

No UTIA Employees are allowed to enter a confined space without advance approval from the Safety Office. If it is determined that a confined space must be entered, the Safety Office must be contacted to provide the necessary training and equipment for the entry.

The following sections provide general guidelines and procedures for confined space entry. This chapter covers the following topics:

  • Confined Space Definitions
  • Monitoring the Atmosphere
  • Atmospheric Issues
  • Combustible Atmospheres
  • Toxic Atmospheres
  • Ventilation
  • Trenching/Shoring

Confined Space Definitions

Confined Space – any enclosed area with the following characteristics:

  • structure that is not designed for extended human occupation – AND –
  • potential for engulfment, entrapment, etc. – OR –
  • atmosphere that is actually or potentially hazardous.

Examples of confined spaces include the following: Crawl spaces, Manholes, Silos, Tanks, Trenches, Tunnels.

Note: Because confined spaces offer limited means of entry or exit and may contain hazards, employees must comply with 29 CFR 1910.146 and the UTIA Confined Space Entry Program when working in these areas. The Confined Space Entry Program is available from the Safety Office. If you have any questions about confined spaces, contact the Safety Office.

Permit-Required Confined Space – Confined space that contains actually or potentially hazardous atmosphere or the potential for engulfment or entrapment by particulate matter, equipment, or liquid.
Entry – Physical act of entering a confined space. An entry occurs when any part of a worker’s body breaks the plane of the confined space opening.
Authorized Entrants – Properly trained workers with the authorization to enter confined spaces.
Authorized Attendant – Properly trained worker who is positioned outside a confined space. This person monitors the entrants within a confined space and the external surroundings.
Person Authorizing Entry – Worker who is properly trained in administrative, technical, and managerial aspects of confined space entry. This person authorizes entry and has the authority to terminate entry when conditions become unfavorable.
Hazardous Atmosphere – Atmosphere that is oxygen enriched, oxygen deficient, combustible, toxic, or otherwise immediately dangerous to life or health.
Hotwork – Operations that could provide a source of ignition, such as riveting, welding, cutting, burning, or heating.
Monitoring the Atmosphere
Due to poor ventilation and physical structure, the atmosphere in confined spaces may be actually or potentially hazardous. Atmospheric hazards include the following:Employees trained in atmospheric monitoring will test several points in a confined space for the following:

  • oxygen content
  • combustible atmosphere
  • potential toxic contaminants
  • any other atmosphere that is immediately dangerous to life or health

Atmospheric Issues

Oxygen Atmosphere
Oxygen enriched atmospheres are more than 23.5 percent oxygen; oxygen deficient atmospheres are less than 19.5 percent oxygen. Certain chemical or biological reactions may reduce oxygen over time, but employee operations such as cutting or welding may reduce oxygen content very quickly. Oxygen levels must be tested regularly whenever hotwork is performed within a confined space. The following graph outlines human reaction to various oxygen levels.

Human Reaction to Oxygen Concentrations  

  • 23.5% – Oxygen Enriched 
  • 21.0% – Normal Atmosphere 
  • 21.0% – Normal Atmosphere 
  • 19.5% – Minimum for Safe Entry 
  • 16.0% – Impaired Judgement & Breathing
  • 14.0% – Faulty Judgement & Rapid Fatigue 
  • 6.0% – Difficult Breathing & Death in Minutes

Combustible Atmospheres

Combustible atmospheres have enough oxygen and flammable vapor, gas, or dust to ignite and support a fire or explosion if exposed to flames, sparks, or heat. Oxygen-enriched atmospheres and hazardous atmospheres in excess of their lower flammable limits are extremely combustible and dangerous. 

Toxic Atmospheres

Toxic atmospheres can cause injury, illness, or death. Safety concerns include inhalation and skin exposure. If the identity of the toxic atmosphere is known, check all appropriate Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for threshold limit values and recommended personal protective equipment. If the identity of the toxic atmosphere is not known, use maximum PPE (i.e. Self Contained Breathing Apparatus).


Ventilation controls the atmospheric hazards of a confined space by replacing unsafe air with clean, breathable air. There are several methods for ventilating a confined space. The method and equipment used depend on the following factors:

  • size of the confined space
  • atmosphere
  • source of the makeup air

IMPORTANT: Ventilation alone cannot reduce some atmospheric hazards to safe levels. Use atmospheric testing to confirm whether the ventilation system has been successful.

Trenching and Shoring

Some operations such as trenching result in confined spaces. Shoring or sloping systems are necessary to protect these spaces and reduce the chance for cave-ins.A trench is a narrow excavation below the ground. Trenches are typically deeper than they are wide; however, the width of a trench is less than 15 feet. Trenches may become confined spaces when an employee must enter the area to work, and the conditions in section 21.2 exist.

A shoring system consists of a structure that supports the sides of an excavation and is designed to prevent cave-ins. Employees must follow all the requirements associated with confined spaces when working within trenches. Prior to any trenching activities, you must contact the Safety Office.

Electrical Safety


The following sections provide general safety guidelines and procedures for electrical safety. This chapter covers the following topics:

  • General Electrical Safety
  • Lockout/Tagout Procedures
  • High-Voltage Procedures

General Electrical Safety

The danger of injury through electrical shock is possible whenever electrical power is present. When a person’s body completes a circuit and thus connects a power source with the ground, an electrical burn or injury is imminent. Most fatal injuries result from high-voltage exposure; however, people can sustain severe injuries from low voltage power if it has a high current flow.
Electrical safety is important in every work environment. The following sections cover circuit breaker loads, electrical grounding, electrical safety guidelines, and electrical emergency response.


The following definitions help clarify general electrical safety:

  • Circuit Breaker: A device that automatically interrupts the flow of an electrical current.
  • Breaker Box: An insulated box on which interconnected circuits are mounted.
  • Electrical Panel: An insulated panel on which electrical wires are mounted.
  • Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI): A GFCI detects grounding problems and “shuts electricity off.”
  • High Voltage: The term high voltage applies to electrical equipment that operates at more than 600 Volts (for terminal to terminal operation) or more than 300 Volts (for terminal to ground operation). Low voltage, high current AC or DC power supplies are also considered to be high voltage.
  • Hazardous Energy Sources: This term applies to stored or residual energy such as that in capacitors, springs, elevated machine members, rotating flywheels, hydraulic systems, and air, gas, steam, or water pressure.
  • Lockout: The placement of a lock on an energy-isolating device. This act prevents workers from operating a piece of equipment until the lock is removed.
  • Tagout: The placement of a tag on an energy-isolating device. A tagout device is a prominent warning device of a lockout.
  • Energy-Isolating Device: A mechanical device that prevents the transmission or release of energy. Examples include manually operated circuit breakers, disconnect switches, line or block valves. Pushbuttons, selector switches, and other control circuit devices do not isolate energy. Energy-isolating devices should be lockable by means of a hasp or other type of attachment. It should not be necessary to dismantle or reassemble a device to lock it.

Electrical Grounding

Proper electrical grounding can help prevent electrical injury. Most electrical equipment is grounded with either a three-prong plug or a two-prong plug and insulation. Never remove the grounding plug from any electrical cord! This creates a potentially dangerous situation. Because a grounding system may be defective without your knowledge, use a GFCI to ensure electrical safety. GFCI’s are required in moist or potentially damp environments.

Electrical Panels

Electrical panels or breaker boxes require special safety considerations, including the following:

  1. Know where your panel box is located.
  2. Do not touch the circuit breakers unless authorized to do so (by Physical Plant.)
  3. Ensure that panel box doors are securely attached.
  4. Do not block access to panel boxes. There should be at least 30 inches of clear space in front of a panel box.

Report tripped breakers Physical Plant and refer any electrical questions to the Physical Plant.

Electrical Safety Guidelines

Follow these guidelines for general electrical safety:

  1. Be familiar with the electrical hazards associated with your work place.
  2. Unplug electrical equipment before repairing or servicing it.
  3. If a prong breaks off inside an outlet, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Call the physical plant for assistance.
  4. Ensure that outlets are firmly mounted. Report loose outlets to the Physical Plant.
  5. Report all electrical problems, including tripped breakers, broken switches, and flickering lights to the Physical Plant.
  6. All appliances used in UTIA buildings must be UL or FM (Factory Manual) labeled.
  7. Do not use an appliance that sparks, smokes, or becomes excessively hot, unless the appliance is specifically designed to exhibit these characteristics.
  8. Portable electrical heaters must be placed to avoid causing a trip hazard and must be kept away from combustible material. Never leave a heater unattended. Unplug the heater at the end of the day and when not in use. Ceramic Heaters are the preferred style of heater.
  9. Keep electrical equipment away from water, unless the appliance is specifically designed for use around water, such as a wet-dry shop vacuum.
  10. Use GFCI’s whenever possible.
  11. Be aware of overhead power lines when working with tall equipment (e.g., grain augers, cranes, backhoes, etc.).
  12. Follow lockout/tagout procedures, as appropriate.

Follow these guidelines for electrical plug and cord safety:

  1. Do not remove the prongs of an electrical plug. If plug prongs are missing, loose, or bent, replace the entire plug.
  2. Do not use an adapter or extension cord to defeat a standard grounding device. (For example: only place three-prong plugs in three-prong outlets; do not alter them to fit into a two-prong outlet.)
  3. Use extension cords only when necessary and only on a temporary basis. Do not use extension cords in place of permanent wiring. Request new outlets if your work requires equipment in an area without an outlet.
  4. Use extension cords that are the correct size or rating for the equipment in use. The diameter of the extension cord should be the same or greater than the cord of the equipment in use.
  5. Do not run electrical cords above ceiling tiles or through walls.
  6. Keep electrical cords away from areas where they may be pinched and areas where they may pose a tripping or fire hazard (e.g., doorways, walkways, under carpet, etc.).
  7. Avoid plugging more than one appliance in each outlet. If multiple appliances are necessary, use an approved power strip with surge protector and circuit breaker. Do not overload the circuit breaker.
  8. Discard damaged cords, cords that become hot, or cords with exposed wiring.
  9. Never unplug an appliance by pulling on the cord; pull on the plug.

Electrical Emergency Response

The following instructions provide guidelines for handling three types of electrical emergencies:

  1. Electric Shock. When someone suffers serious electrical shock, he or she may be knocked unconscious. If the victim is still in contact with the electrical current, immediately turn off the electrical power source. If you cannot disconnect the power source – do not touch the victim and immediately call 911 for assistance
     Do not touch a victim that is still in contact with a power source; you could electrocute yourself. Have someone call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
  2. Electrical Fire. If an electrical fire occurs, try to disconnect the electrical power source, if possible. If the fire is small, you are not in immediate danger, and if you have been trained in fighting fires, use any type of fire extinguisher except water to extinguish the fire.
     Do not use water on an electrical fire.
  3. Power Lines. Stay away from live power lines and downed power lines. Be particularly careful if a live power line is touching a body of water. The water could conduct electricity 

If a power line falls on your car while you are inside, remain in the vehicle until help arrives or it is no longer safe to remain inside. When exiting such a situation, jump from the vehicle, and shuffle away (DO NOT WALK) from the vehicle until you are safely away. Remember that the ground can be energized around the vehicle and to walk away could cause your death.

Lockout/Tagout Procedures

Lockout/tagout procedures are used to isolate hazardous energy sources from electrical, hydraulic, or pneumatic machinery. Furthermore, when service or maintenance work is required, lockout and tagout devices help ensure personal safety from possible energy releases. All employees whose work involves hazardous energy sources must be trained in lockout/tagout procedures.

Before performing service or maintenance work on machines, turn them off and disconnect them from their energy sources. To further ensure employee safety, “lockout” using energy-isolating devices and “tagout” to notify others in the area.

The following sections provide information on lockout/tagout procedures:

Applying Lockout/Tagout Devices

Only authorized employees may apply lockout/tagout devices. The following steps provide a brief outline of approved application procedures.

  1. Notify employees that the equipment requires service or maintenance and is scheduled for shutdown and lockout/tagout.
  2. Use established procedures to identify the type, magnitude, and hazards of the equipment’s energy source. Make sure you know the proper methods for controlling the energy source.
  3. If the equipment is currently operating, shut it down using normal shutdown procedures.
  4. Isolate the equipment form its energy source by activating the energy-isolating device(s). Either lockout or tagout the energy-isolating device(s).
  5. Dissipate or restrain stored and residual energy using methods such as grounding, repositioning, blocking, bleeding, etc. (Capacitors, springs, hydraulic systems, and air/gas/water pressure system may contain stored or residual energy.)
  6. Ensure that all employees are removed from the equipment. Then, test the equipment for successful isolation by attempting to operate it.

IMPORTANT: After verifying isolation, return the controls to neutral or off.

When service and maintenance are completed, authorized employees may remove lockout/tagout devices and return equipment to normal operations. The following steps provide a brief outline of approved removal procedures.

Removing Lockout/Tagout Devices

  1. Inspect the work area and remove any nonessential items. Make sure the isolation equipment is intact and in good working condition.
  2. Ensure that all employees are safely removed from the equipment.
  3. Verify that the equipment controls are in neutral or off.
  4. Remove the lockout/tagout devices and re-energize the equipment.
  5. Notify employees that the equipment is ready for operation.

High Voltage Procedures

In addition to the guidelines associated with general electrical safety and lockout-tagout procedures, there are more stringent safety requirements for high voltage procedures.It is expected that only UTIA personnel that are experienced in high voltage work will perform such operations. In the event that no such person is available, outside qualified personnel (i.e. the local electric company, qualified electricians, etc.) will be contracted for the job.

Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is provided as exit signs and emergency lights. These devices are not to be tampered with! If you observe an emergency light that is not functioning, please call the Director of Services (4-7159) or the Safety Office.

Hazard Communication

Danger Signs: All employees shall be informed that danger signs mean an immediate hazard is present and that special precautions are necessary. Danger signs shall be in the colors red, black and white only.

​Caution Signs: Caution signs shall be used to warn against potential hazards or to caution against unsafe practices, and that proper precaution shall be taken. Caution signs shall be yellow and black only.

Safety Instruction Signs: These signs shall be used where there is a need for general instructions and suggestions relative to safety matters. These signs shall be green and white with black lettering.

​Slow Moving Vehicle Signs: This sign is to be used only on vehicles which move 25 mph or less on public roads. This is not a clearance marker for wide loads, nor is it to replace required lighting on slow moving vehicles. Slow moving vehicle signs shall consist of a fluorescent yellow-orange triangle with a dark red reflective border.

Biological Hazard Signs: This biohazard warning sign shall be used to designate the actual or potential presence of a biological hazard in a room, equipment, container, etc.

Ladder Safety

Prior to use, all ladders must be checked for the following: cracked or broken wood, missing pieces, oils, or lubricants on the steps, etc. If a ladder is found to be in poor/damaged condition, remove it from service immediately!


  1. Always ensure the locking mechanism on rolling ladders is functioning.
  2. Always fully extend step ladders.
  3. Straight ladders should be placed from the wall 1/4 the height up the wall. To ensure you are at the proper angle, stand at the base of the ladder and extend your arms toward the ladder. If your arms are fully extended (not bent) the ladder has been placed properly.​

Guidelines for Portable Ladders

  1. Portable stepladders longer than 20 feet may not be used.
  2. Portable stepladders must have a spreader or locking device to securely hold the front and back sections in the open position. Before use, be sure stepladders are open all the way and locked into safe position.
  3. All portable ladders should have insulating non-slip material supplied on the bottom of the rails.
  4. Portable single section rung ladders shall not be more than 30 feet long.
  5. Portable multiple section rung ladders shall not be more than 60 feet long.
  6. Rung ladders are to be placed to prevent slipping, or they must be lashed in position. Do not place ladders on boxes, barrels, or other unstable bases, or lean ladders against movable objects.
  7. Don’t use ladders in front of doors that open towards the ladder unless the door is blocked, locked, or guarded.
  8. Ladders with broken or missing steps, rungs, cleats, rails, split wood, etc. will be taken out of service.
  9. Ladders used to gain access to a roof should extend at least 3 feet above the point of support at eave, gutter, or roof line.
  10. Never work from the top two rungs of a straight ladder. Never work from the top plate of a step ladder.
  11. Do not use a metal ladder when working on or near electrical circuits, power lines, or live electrical apparatus.
  12. Face the ladder when climbing up and down, grasping the side rails or rungs with both hands.
  13. Avoid carrying loads up or down ladders. Make use of hoisting equipment.
  14. Do not overreach; take time to move the ladder closer to the work. Do not straddle the space between the ladder and another object.
  15. Planks shall not be used on top of step ladders.


All employees must use proper lifting techniques to avoid injury when lifting heavy objects. In general, employees should seek assistance when lifting objects that weigh 25 pounds or more. Use your good judgement to determine if you need assistance, a dolly, or other tool to safely lift an object. The back supports the weight of the entire upper body. When you lift objects or move heavy loads, your back has to support even more weight. If you exceed your body’s natural limits, your back cannot support both your body and the extra load. The excess, unsupported pressure is transferred to the lower back, where injury is imminent. By using the muscles in your arms and legs and exercising proper lifting techniques, you can move loads safely and protect your back from possible injury.Follow these guidelines to help avoid back injuries:

  1. Avoid moving objects manually. Plan jobs and arrange work areas so that heavy items may be moved mechanically (i.e., a dolly).
  2. Keep in good physical condition. If you are not used to lifting and vigorous exercise, do not attempt difficult tasks
  3. Think before you act. Use proper lifting techniques and lifting aides such as another person, dollies, etc. Get help if you need it.

Medical Treatment

In the event of a life threatening emergency:

  1. Immediately dial 911 from any campus phone or push to red button on the emergency phones. Give the Emergency 911 operator all necessary information — let them hang up first. Send someone to direct EMS units.
  2. Stay with the injured/ill person until medical assistance arrives.

Non-life Threatening Emergency

Medical attention for employees should be sought at the UT Medical Center, St. Mary’s Hospital or Baptist Hospital. Proper paperwork shall be completed as in section 3.2. Medical assistance for students should be sought at Student Health Services or at one of the previously mentioned hospitals. 

First Aid Kits

First aid kits should be located in a conspicuous location in high hazard areas. These are to be used for the immediate response to minor injuries such as cuts or burns. All injury victims have the option of obtaining medical treatment. All injuries should be reported to a supervisor and to appropriate paperwork completed, according to section 3.2.The Poison Control Center number, (800) 288-9999, should be posted near the phone.

  • Inspections designated person should be responsible for monitoring and the maintaining first aid kits. A log should be attached to the kit indicating the inspection date and inspector.
  • Contents A first aid kit should contain such items as: band-aids, gauze, bandages, scissors, latex gloves, and a first aid card. Pocket masks for CPR are also recommended (provided personnel are trained in their use).

Areas using materials for which the immediate administration of an antidote or neutralizing agent may be necessary (i.e., hydrofluoric acid) should be considered. These procedures should also be in each lab-specific Chemical/Hygiene Plan as Special Handling Procedures.

Powered Industrial Trucks

All personnel required to operate a forklift must be trained. This training is provided by the Safety Office. If training was received at another location, proper documentation must be provided.

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

It is easy to prevent slips, trips, and fall accidents. In general employees should always follow good housekeeping practices and pay attention to their environment to avoid slips, trips, and falls. In addition, employees should follow these guidelines:

  1. Turn on office lights. Ensure that passageways are adequately lighted.
  2. Avoid horseplay.
  3. Avoid unnecessary haste. Do not run in work areas.
  4. Use ladders or step-stools to reach high places. Never climb onto a chair, drawer, or shelves.
  5. Keep hallways and stairwells neat and free of obstacles.
  6. Remove items that may pose a potential slipping hazard.
  7. Clean up spills as soon as they occur.
  8. Never obstruct your view when walking.
  9. Do not wear clothing that is too long or shoes that have slippery heels or soles.
  10. Hold the handrail when using stairs.
  11. Be careful when walking on wet surfaces or when entering a building while wearing wet shoes.
  12. Report uneven surfaces, such as loose or missing floor tiles, to the UTIA Director of Services (865/974-7159).


All buildings on the UT Agriculture Campus are non-smoking. Designated smoking areas have been determined for each building. If you have a question regarding the smoking areas for your building, please speak with your department head. In addition, lit candles are not permitted at any time on University property.

Visitor Safety

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture realizes that visitors are a large part of the University function and as such has made provisions for their safety. Employees and students must take special care to ensure visitor safety. Visitors, especially children, shall not be allowed unescorted in high hazard areas such as animal handling facilities, laboratories, and shops.

Should a visitor become injured, be sure to report the occurrence to your supervisor or the UTIA Business Office (865/974-4706) after attending to the injury.

Fire/Life Safety


The following sections provide fire/life safety guidelines and procedures. This chapter covers the following topics:

  • General Fire/Life Safety
  • The Effects of a Fire
  • Fire Prevention
  • Fighting a Fire
  • Arson
  • Combustible Storage
  • Emergency Access and Exit
  • Fire Doors
  • Fire Detection and Notification
  • Fire Suppression
  • Holiday Decorations

General Fire/Life Safety 

Fire/life safety involves numerous safety issues including fire prevention, fire suppression, and emergency evacuation/response. Fire/life safety is everyone’s responsibility. 

IMPORTANT: Learn how to prevent fires and respond to fires—what you learn will be invaluable. 

The University of Tennessee is committed to providing a safe environment for building occupants and emergency response personnel. UT uses nationally accepted codes as guidelines for inspections, testing, and procedures. 

The Effects of a Fire 

Most fires produce an immense amount of smoke that is highly toxic. In fact, smoke is responsible for more fire fatalities than flames. A smoky fire can have the following effect on humans.

  • Within 30 seconds—disorientation
  • Within 2 minutes—unconsciousness
  • Within 3 minutes—death

Timing is critical during a fire. To ensure your safety, you must know how to prevent and respond to any fire emergency.

Fire Prevention

The greatest protection against property loss and injuries from fire is prevention. Follow these guidelines to promote fire/life safety:

  1. Minimize combustible storage.
  2. Store waste materials in suitable containers.
  3. Use flammable materials in well-ventilated areas. Use and store flammables away from ignition sources, such as cigarettes.
  4. Keep equipment in good working order. Have electrical wiring and appliances inspected regularly.
  5. Ensure that heating units are properly safeguarded.
  6. Do not hunt for gas leaks using an open flame. Use approved gas indicators.
  7. Report and repair all gas leaks immediately.
  8. Conduct hot work in well-ventilated areas.
  9. Test enclosed or confined spaces for flammable atmospheres.
  10. Use open flames carefully. Do not use open flames where flammable atmospheres may be present.

For more information on fire/life safety, refer to other chapters in this manual, including  Electrical Safety, Laboratory Safety, Chemical Safety, etc. 

Fighting a Fire

If you see a fire or smoke, or if you smell smoke, complete the following steps:

  1. Pull the fire alarm to begin evacuating the building.
  2. If you are not in immediate danger, call 911 to report the fire. Provide the operator with the following information:
    1. Building or area name
    2. Approximate location of the fire
    3. Size and type of fire
    4. Your name
  3. If you are formally trained in fire fighting techniques and are not in immediate danger, you may attempt to fight the fire. Donotplace yourself or others in unnecessary danger.
  4. Exit the building by following posted evacuation routes. Do not use elevators during an emergency.

During actual emergencies, building occupants must receive permission from the UTPD, the Fire Department, or the Safety Officer before re-entering the building.

NOTE: Evacuation plans and fire drills are essential for building occupants to respond correctly to a fire alarm. Refer to the Emergency Response Plan for more information.


If you suspect arson, no matter how small the incident, contact the UTPD or the Safety Office. Do not alter the fire scene in any way, unless you are trying to extinguish a live fire. The UTPD and Fire Department work together to investigate possible arson.

Combustible Storage

By storing excess combustible materials improperly, employees not only increase the potential for having a fire, they increase the potential severity of a fire. To reduce the hazards associated with combustible storage, follow these guidelines:

  1. Eliminate excess combustible materials such as paper and cardboard.
  2. Do not store combustible materials in hallways, stairwells, or mechanical rooms.
  3. When stacking combustible materials, leave at least 18 inches between the top of the stack and the ceiling, so that the sprinkler system (if present) can function properly.

Emergency Access and Exit

Emergency access and exit are critical during an emergency situation such as a fire. During a fire, timing and quick response are essential to save lives and property. Effective emergency access ensures that fire trucks can reach a building in time to extinguish the fire. Unobstructed emergency exits ensures that building occupants can exit a building to safety.
These definitions help clarify the concept of emergency access and exit:

  1. Emergency Access – Pertinent facilities and equipment remain available and unobstructed at all times to ensure effective fire detection, evacuation, suppression, and response.
  2. Emergency Exit – A continuous and unobstructed way to travel from any point in a public building to a public way. A means of exit may include horizontal and vertical travel routes, including intervening rooms, doors, hallways, corridors, passageways, balconies, ramps, stairs, enclosures, lobbies, courts, and yards.

IMPORTANT: Each location within a building must have a clear means of exit to the outside. The following sections offer safety guidelines and procedures for maintaining emergency access and exit:

Corridors, Stairways, and Exits

An exit corridor and/or stairway is a pedestrian pathway that allows direct access to the outside of a building and/or allows access to a building entrance and subsequent pathways to the outside of a building (i.e., an exit corridor is the quickest, easiest, and most direct pathway for leaving a building.) Because exit corridors or passageways are the primary means of egress during an emergency, employees must follow the safety guidelines outlined in this section. 

IMPORTANT: There must be at least 36 inches clear width of unobstructed, clutter-free space in all corridors, stairways, and exits. 

Follow these guidelines to promote safe evacuation in corridors, stairways, and exits:

  1. Keep all means of exit clean, clutter-free, and unobstructed.
  2. Do not place hazardous materials or equipment in areas that are used for evacuation.
  3. Do not use corridors or stairways for storage or office/laboratory operations. Corridors may not be used as an extension of the office or laboratory.

Fire Doors

A fire door serves as a barrier to limit the spread of fire and restrict the movement of smoke. Unless they are held open by the automatic systems, fire doors must remain closed at all times.

Fire doors are normally located in stairwells, corridors, and other areas required by Fire Code. The door, door frame, locking mechanism, and closure are rated between 20 minutes and three hours. A fire door rating indicates how long the door assemble can withstand heat and a water hose stream.Always keep fire doors closed. If it is necessary to keep a fire door open, have a special closure installed. This closure will connect the fire door to the building’s fire alarm system, and will automatically close the door if the alarm system activates.

IMPORTANT: Know which doors are fire doors and keep them closed to protect building occupants and exit paths from fire and smoke. Never block a fire door with a non-approved closure device such as a door stop, block of wood, or potted plant. For fire doors with approved closure devices, make sure that nothing around the door can impede the closure.

Never alter a fire door or assembly in any way. Simple alterations such as changing a lock or installing a window can lessen the fire rating of the door.Doors to offices, laboratories, and classrooms help act as smoke barriers regardless of their fire rating. Keep these doors closed whenever possible.

REMEMBER: A closed door is the best way to protect your path to safety from the spread of smoke and fire.

Fire Detection and Notification

UTIA uses several types of fire detection and notification systems including heat detectors, smoke detectors, pull stations, horns, and lights. The following sections discuss these components:

Heat and Smoke Detectors

Fire detectors at UTIA are linked to the Central Alarm. Once a building alarm system is activated, the Reporting System alerts the emergency operator who initiates emergency response.

There are two types of fire detection devices used on the UTIA campus: heat detectors and smoke detectors. Please note the location of the detectors in your area and prevent damage and accidental activation.

  1. Heat Detectors. Heat detectors respond to the convected energy in hot smoke and fire gases (i.e., heat.) Heat detectors are normally located in laboratories, mechanical rooms, storage areas, and areas that could produce high levels of dust, steam, or other airborne particles.
  2. Smoke Detectors. Smoke detectors respond to the solid and liquid aerosols produced by a fire (i.e., smoke.) Since smoke detectors cannot distinguish between smoke particles and other particles such as steam, building occupants must be aware of detector locations and be considerate when working around them. Smoke detectors are normally found in exit corridors, office areas, assembly areas, and residence halls.

Alarm Systems: Pull Stations, Horns and Lights

Fire alarm manual pull stations are installed to manually activate a building’s alarms in addition to the automatic fire sensing devices. When pulled manually, a pull station activates the fire alarm system and notifies University personnel that an emergency exists. Pull stations are located near exit stairways and/or building exits.Emergency horns/bells and lights are located throughout University buildings with new fire alarm systems. Do not block emergency horns or lights. Report damaged or defective horns and lights to the Safety Office. 

Fire Suppression

UTIA uses various types of fire suppression equipment including portable fire extinguishers, and sprinklers systems. The following sections discuss each type of fire suppression equipment:

Fire Extinguishers

Fires are classified according to three basic categories. Each type of fire requires special treatment to control and extinguish it. Therefore, all fire extinguishers are clearly marked to indicate the fire classes for which they are designed. Fires are classified as indicated below:

Class A. Fires involving ordinary combustibles such as wood, textiles, paper, rubber, cloth, and trash. The extinguishing agent for a Class A fire must be cool. Water and multi-purpose dry chemical fire extinguishers are ideal for use on these types of fires.

Class B. Fires involving flammable or combustible liquids or gases such as solvents, gasoline, paint, lacquer, and oil. The extinguishing agent for a Class B fire must remove oxygen or stop the chemical reaction. Carbon dioxide, multi-purpose dry chemical, and halon fire extinguishers are ideal on these types of fires.

Class C. Fires involving energized electrical equipment or appliances. The extinguishing agent for a Class C fire must be a nonconducting agent. Carbon dioxide, multi-purpose dry chemical, and halon fire extinguishers are ideal for use on these types of fires. Never use water on a Class C fire.

There are numerous types of fire extinguishers; however, most extinguishers contain water, carbon dioxide, or dry chemicals.  Remember that a fire needs oxygen, fuel, and heat to start and to be sustained.

Inspection, Testing & Recharging

The Safety Office inspects and tests fire extinguishers regularly. The UT Department of Environmental Health and Safety also ensures that extinguishers are recharged. (Fire extinguishers must be recharged after every use.) To move a fire extinguisher to a new location or report a missing or damaged fire extinguisher, call the Safety Office at 974-4904.

Using Fire Extinguishers

Most fire extinguishers provide operating instructions on their label; however, the time to learn about fire extinguishers is not during a fire. The sooner you know how to use a fire extinguishers, the better prepared you are.

NOTE: Portable fire extinguishers are located throughout all University facilities. They are mounted in readily accessible locations such as hallways, near exit doors, and areas containing fire hazards. Make sure that fire extinguishers are accessible and securely mounted.When using a fire extinguisher to fight or control a fire, aim the spray at the base of the fire. Because most extinguishers only work for a short time, employ a sweeping motion and work quickly to control the fire.

IMPORTANT: Do not attempt to fight a fire unless it is small and controllable. Use good judgment to determine your capability to fight a fire. When fighting a fire, always maintain an escape route. Never allow a fire to block your egress.

Personal Extinguishers and Automobiles

All state-owned vehicles in excess of 20 horsepower must contain a 2 ½ pound A-B-C Class fire extinguishers.

Sprinkler Systems

The purpose of water sprinkler systems is to help extinguish and minimize the spread of fires. Sprinklers are normally activated only by heat. They are not connected to emergency pull stations. To ensure that sprinklers are effective in the event of a fire, maintain at least 18 inches of clearance between any equipment or storage items and the ceiling. (Anything close to the ceiling can defeat the sprinkler system.) Never hang anything from a sprinkler head. Arrange work areas to facilitate sprinklers and allow even water distribution.

Holiday Decorations

Unfortunately, holiday decorations are often fire hazards. Follow these guidelines to improve fire safety during the holidays:

  1. Knoxville Fire Safety Codes do not permit the use of natural vegetation, including live trees, for decorations. Fire resistant artificial trees and decorations may be used.
  2. Candles and other open flame units are not permitted for decoration. (Candles/incense are never to be lit in University buildings.)
  3. Electric lights should not be used on metal trees because of electrical shock potential.
  4. Lights and decorations should be unplugged when the area is unoccupied.
  5. Extension cords should not be used. Position electrical decorations to permit direct connection to electrical power.
  6. Only use electric lights and decorations that have been tested and approved by a recognized agency such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM).
  7. Check electrical items for broken/cracked sockets, frayed/bare wires, loose connections, etc. Discard if damaged.
  8. Trees and other decorations should located well away from sources of ignition such as radiators, heaters, light fixtures, etc. Be sure that trees are out of the traffic pattern and do not block designated paths of exit.
  9. Only flame-proof or non-combustible materials should be used for decoration.

Shop Safety


The following sections provide general guidelines and requirements for shop safety. This chapter covers the following topics: 


  • General Shop Safety
  • Personal Protection
  • Hand Tools
  • Power Tools
  • Tool Specific Safety Guidelines
  • Welding and Cutting

General Shop Safety

The hazards associated with shop work require special safety considerations. Whether you work in a metal shop, wood shop, automotive shop, glass shop, or electrical shop, the potential hazards for personal injury are numerous. This chapter highlights essential safety information for working in a UTIA shop. Refer to other chapters in this manual, including General Safety, Electrical Safety and Fire/Life Safety for more information on handling many shop situations.

Personal Protection

There are several measures you must take to protect yourself from shop hazards. For example, do not wear the following when working around machinery:

  • Loose fitting clothing
  • Neckties
  • Jewelry

If you must wear a long sleeved shirt, be sure the sleeves are rolled down and buttoned. Snug fitting clothes and safety shoes are essential safety equipment in the shop.Make certain that long hair is not loose, but is pulled back away from equipment.Always wear safety glasses with side shields when working with shop equipment. Additional protection using goggles or face shields may be necessary for the following types of work:

  • Grinding, chipping, sandblasting
  • Welding

Wear suitable gloves, preferably leather, when working with the following:

  • Scrap metal or wood
  • Sharp-edged stock
  • Unfinished lumber

Refer to the Personal Protective Equipment chapter in this manual for more information.

Job Safety

Before beginning work in a shop, be sure you are authorized to perform the work to be done and inspect your tools and equipment. If a procedure is potentially hazardous to others in the area, warn fellow workers accordingly. Use warning signs or barriers, as necessary.Notify your supervisor/professor if you notice any unsafe conditions such as the following:

  • Defective tools or equipment
  • Improperly guarded machines
  • Oil, gas or other leaks

Inform other employees if you see an unsafe work practice; however, be careful not to distract a person who is working with power tools.   

Safety Guidelines

Follow these guidelines for general shop safety:

  1. Know the hazards associated with your work. Be sure you are fully educated on the proper use and operation of any tool before beginning a job.
  2. Always wear appropriate safety gear and protective clothing.
  3. Wear nitrile gloves when cleaning with degreasers or ferric chloride (latex gloves do not provide adequate protection.)
  4. Ensure that there is adequate ventilation to prevent exposure from vapors of glues, lacquers, paints, and from dust and fumes.
  5. Maintain good housekeeping standards.
    1. Keep the work area free from slipping/tripping hazards (oil, cords, debris, etc.)
    2. Clean all spills immediately
    3. Remove sawdust, wood chips, and metal chips regularly
    4. It is recommended that electrical cords pull down from an overhead pulley rather than lying on the floor
  6. Leave tool and equipment guards in place.
  7. Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.
  8. Make sure all tools and equipment are properly grounded and that cords are in good condition.
    1. Double-insulated tools or those with three-wire cords are essential for safety
    2. Use extension cords that are large enough for the load and distance
  9. Secure all compressed gas cylinders. Never use compressed gas to clean clothing or skin.
  10. Always use flashback arresters on cutting/welding torches.
  11. Take precautions against heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
  12. Wear infrared safety goggles when appropriate.

The Safety Office periodically inspects all UTIA shops. Refer any questions regarding shop safety to the Safety Office.

Hand Tools

Hand tools are non-powered tools. They include axes, wrenches, hammers, chisels, screw drivers, and other hand-operated mechanisms. Even though hand tool injuries tend to be less severe than power tool injuries, hand tool injuries are more common. Because people take everyday hand tools for granted, simple precautions for safety are easily forgotten.
The most common hand tool accidents are caused by the following:

  • Failure to use the right tool
  • Failure to use a tool correctly
  • Failure to keep edged tools sharp
  • Failure to replace or repair a defective tool
  • Failure to safely store tools

IMPORTANT: Use the right tool for the job to complete a job safely, quickly, and efficiently.
Follow these guidelines for general hand tool safety:

  1. Wear safety glasses whenever you hammer or cut, especially when working with surfaces that chip or splinter.
  2. Do not use a screwdriver as a chisel. The tool can slip and cause a deep puncture wound.
  3. Do not use a chisel as a screwdriver. The tip of the chisel may break and cause an injury.
  4. Do not use a knife as a screwdriver. The blade can snap and cause an injury.
  5. Never carry a screwdriver or chisel in your pocket. If you fall, the tool could cause a serious injury. Instead, use a tool belt.
  6. Replace loose, splintered, or cracked handles. Loose hammer, axe, or maul heads can fly off defective handles.
  7. Use the proper wrench to tighten or loosen nuts. Pliers can chew the corners off a nut.
  8. When using a chisel, always chip or cut away from yourself.
  9. Do not use a wrench if the jaws are sprung.
  10. Do not use impact tools, such as chisels, wedges, or drift punches if their heads are mushroom shaped. The heads may shatter upon impact.
  11. Direct saw blades, knives, and other tools away from aisle areas and other employees.
  12. Keep knives and scissors sharp. Dull tools are more dangerous than sharp tools.
  13. Iron and steel hand tools may cause sparks, which are hazardous around flammable substances. Use spark-resistant tools made from brass, plastic, aluminum, or wood when working around flammable hazards.

Improper tool storage is responsible for many shop accidents. Follow these guidelines to ensure proper tool storage:

  1. Have a specific place for each tool.
  2. Do not place unguarded cutting tools in a drawer. Many hand injuries are caused by rummaging through drawers that contain a jumbled assortment of sharp-edged tools.
  3. Store knives or chisels in their scabbards.
  4. Hang saws with the blades away from someone’s reach.
  5. Provide sturdy hooks to hang tools on.
  6. Store heavy tools, such as axes and sledges, with the heavy end down.

Power Tools

Power tools can be extremely dangerous if they are used improperly. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed by power tool accidents. Common accidents associated with power tools include abrasions, cuts, lacerations, amputations, burns, electrocution, and broken bones. These accidents are often caused by the following:

  • Touching the cutting, drilling or grinding components
  • Getting caught in moving parts
  • Suffering electrical shock due to improper grounding, equipment defects, or operator misuse
  • Bring struck by particles that normally eject during operation
  • Touching hot tools or workpieces
  • Falling in the work area
  • Being struck by falling tools

When working around power tools, you must wear personal protective equipment and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could catch in moving machinery. In addition to general shop guidelines, follow these guidelines for working with power tools:

  1. Use the correct tool for the job. Do not use a tool or an attachment for something it was not designed to do.
  2. Select the correct bit, blade, cutter, or grinder wheel for the material at hand. This precaution will reduce the chance for an accident and improve the quality of your work.
  3. Keep all guards in place. Cover exposed belts, pulleys, gears, and shafts that could cause injury.
  4. Always operate tools at the correct speed for the job at hand. Working too slowly can cause an accident just as easily as working too fast.
  5. Watch your work when operating power tools. Stop working if something distracts you.
  6. Do not rely on strength to perform an operation. The correct tool, blade, and method should not require excessive force. If undue force is necessary, you may be using the wrong tool or have a dull blade.
  7. Before clearing jams or blockages on power tools, disconnect from power source. Do not use your hand to clear jams or blockages, use an appropriate tool.
  8. Never reach over equipment while it is running.
  9. Never disable or tamper with safety releases or other automatic switches.
  10. When the chance for operator injury is great, use a push stick to move material through a machine.
  11. Disconnect power tools before performing maintenance or changing components.
  12. Keep a firm grip on portable power tools. These tools tend to “get away” from operators and can be difficult to control.
  13. Never leave chuck key in chuck.
  14. Keep bystanders away from moving machinery.
  15. Do not operate power tools when you are sick, fatigued, or taking strong medication.
  16. When possible, secure work pieces with a clamp or vise to free the hands and minimize the chance of injury. Use a jig for pieces that are unstable or do not lie flat.


Moving machine parts must be safeguarded to protect operators from serious injury. Belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, fly wheels, chains, and other moving parts must be guarded if there is a chance they could contact an individual.
As mentioned before, the hazards associated with moving machinery can be deadly. Hazardous areas that must be guarded include the following:

  1. Point of operation. Area where the machine either cuts, bends, molds, or forms the material.
  2. Pinch/nip point. Area where moving machine parts can trap, pinch, or crush body parts (e.g., roller feeds, intermeshing gears, etc.)
  3. Sharp edges.

There are three types of barrier guards that protect people from moving machinery. They consist of the following:

  • Fixed guards
  • Interlocked guards
  • Adjustable guards

A fixed guard is a permanent machine part that completely encases potential hazards. Fixed guards provide maximum operator protection. Interlock guards are connected to a machine’s power source. If the guard is opened or removed, the machine automatically disengages.

Interlocking guards are often preferable because they provide adequate protection to the operator, but they also allow easy machine maintenance. This is ideal for problems such as jams.

Self-adjusting guards change their position to allow materials to pass through the moving components of a power tool. These guards accommodate various types of materials, but they provide less protection to the operator.

IMPORTANT: Guards must be in place. If a guard is removed to perform maintenance or repairs, follow lockout/tagout procedures. Replace the guard after repairs are completed. Do not disable or move machine guards for any reason. If you notice that a guard is missing or damaged, contact your supervisor and have the guard replaced or repaired before beginning work.

NOTE: Hand-held power tools typically have less guarding in place than stationary power tools. Use extreme caution when working with hand-held power tools and always wear a face shield.

Tool Specific Safety Guidelines

In addition to the safety suggestions for general power tool usage, there are specific safety requirements for each type of tool. The following sections cover safety guidelines for these types of tools:

  • Drill Press
  • Grinder
  • Jointer and Shaper
  • Lathe
  • Nail/Air Gun
  • Planer
  • Sander
  • Saws (Band, Circular, Radial Arm, Table)

Welding and Cutting

Welding and cutting are two forms of hot metal work that require special safety considerations. Unless they are done in a designated shop area, welding and cutting are strictly prohibited without proper authorization.
Before conducting welding or cutting operations, inspect your equipment for the following:

  1. Welding leads must be completely insulated and in good condition.
  2. Cutting tools must be leak-free and equipped with proper fittings, gauges, regulators, and flashback devices.
  3. Oxygen and acetylene tanks must be secured in a safe place.

In addition, follow these guidelines for most welding and cutting procedures:

  1. Conduct welding and cutting operations in a designated area free from flammable materials. When welding or cutting is necessary in an undesignated or hazardous area, have someone nearby act as a fire attendant.
  2. Periodically check welding and cutting areas for combustible atmospheres.
  3. Take care to prevent sparks from starting a fire.
  4. Remove unused gas cylinders from the welding and cutting area.
  5. Keep hoses out of doorways and away from other people. A flattened hose can cause a flashback.
  6. Mark hot metal with a sign or other warning when welding or cutting operations are complete.

Welding Guidelines
Cutting Guidelines

Temperature Extremes

Heat Stress

People may suffer from heat stress during hot, humid conditions. Because the climate in Tennessee is conducive to heat stress, people must take preventative measures to reduce their risk. To prevent heat stress when working outside, employees should limit strenuous physical activity during the hottest portion of the day, wear a brimmed hat when in the sun, take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of fluids. Heat stress occurs in four forms: heat syncopy (fainting), heat rash, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Heat Syncopy (Fainting)

Heat syncopy most often occurs when persons are standing still for long periods of time. This allows blood to pool in the feet and may cause the person to faint. While losing consciousness is a problem, the larger problem usually results when the person receives a concussion from hitting a stationary object. To prevent the onset of heat syncopy do not stand still for long periods. If you must stand in one place for long periods, raise up on your toes several times each minute, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy meals while in heat stress situations. Fainting due to heat usually occurs when one is standing still for long periods of time, causing blood to pool in the feet/legs. This can cause the person to lose consciousness and thus causing further injuries. To prevent heat syncopy, rock back and forth from heel to toe, drink plenty of fluids, and move about as much as possible.

Heat Rash

Heat rash (prickly heat) is caused by the body’s inability to remove perspiration. Prickly heat most often occurs in the waist area where clothing rubs on the skin constantly. Heat rash can be alleviated by weary loose fitting clothing and by the use of baby powder or cornstarch in areas prone to the rash. 

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is usually caused by strenuous physical activity and hot, humid conditions. Because heat exhaustion is the body’s response to insufficient water and salt, it should be treated as quickly as possible. Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include the following:

  • Exhaustion and restlessness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Cold, clammy, moist skin
  • Pale skin
  • Cramps in abdomen and limbs
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse

Take the following steps to administer first aid for heat exhaustion:

  1. Have the victim lie down in cool or shaded place.
  2. If the victim is conscious, have him/her slowly sip cool water. Do not force the victim to drink.

If the victim is unconscious or is conscious but does not improve, seek medical aid as soon as possible.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is usually caused by exposure to extreme heat and humidity. Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature by sweating. Heat stroke is extremely dangerous and may be fatal if not treated immediately.

The signs and symptoms of heat stroke include the following:

  • Red, hot, dry skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • High temperature
  • Strong pulse
  • Noisy breathing
  • Unconsciousness

Immediately take the following steps to administer first aid for heat stroke:

  1. If possible, move the victim to a cool place. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Remove the victim’s clothing. If the victim is conscious, place him in a half-sitting position and support the head and shoulders. If the victim is unconscious, place him/her on the side with head facing sideways.
  2. Fan the victim and place cool wet cloths on the body.

Cold Stress

Even though we live in the south, UTIA employees are still susceptible to cold stress. The first response to cold external conditions is shivering and constriction of blood vessels in the extremities (i.e., hands, feet). Injuries from the cold are generally classified as hypothermia or frostbite.


Hypothermia can result from air temperatures as high as 50F. Other contributing factors are inadequate clothing, wetness, contact with metal, or high winds (wind chill factor.) Also, sedatives and alcohol increase the risk of hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include: uncontrollable shivering, slowed heart rate, slurred speech, drowsiness. Affected persons will no longer care that they are cold.


Frostbite results from lack of circulation to extremities (fingers, toes, ears) and because of inadequate protection (mittens, socks, hats). Frostbite is the freezing of fluid around the cells leading to tissue damage. Tissue damage can be superficial or very deep (which may result in the loss of body parts). Symptoms of frostbite include: gray or white skin (progressing to reddish-purple and then to black), initial pain that subsides with time and potential blisters. Also the affected body part is cold and numb.


Prevention of cold stress includes: adequate clothing, rest in warm areas, removal of wet, damp clothing, eating well-balanced meals, and drinking plenty of water.