Three Ways to Increase Occupational Health and Safety at SLC

An illustration of three employees; two are wearing hard hats. They are discussing safety regulations in the workplace.

Submitted by Trish McPherson, Occupational Health and Safety Officer

The following are three ways to promote a healthy and safe working environment at SLC by increasing awareness and action surrounding these occupational health and safety initiatives:

1. Share the Air, Be Scent Aware

Have you considered the impact of scent?

Exposure to perfumes, colognes, and other scented products such as aftershave, deodorant, soap, shampoo, hairspray, body spray, air fresheners, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, etc. can trigger reactions in individuals with asthma, allergies, migraines, or chemical sensitivities. 

Susceptible individuals can experience a variety of symptoms, including headache, sore throat, runny nose, sinus congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, dizziness, anxiety, anger, nausea, fatigue, mental confusion, and an inability to concentrate. The impact on all those affected can be quite severe, resulting in great difficulty in work and study activities.

What can you do to help?

  • Be considerate of those who are sensitive to fragrance. Avoid using scented products; instead, use scent-free alternatives.
  • If you do use scented products, use them sparingly. A general guideline for scented products is that the scent should not be detectable more than an arm’s length away from you. Do not apply scented products in a public area.
  • Avoid using products (e.g. air fresheners or potpourris) that give off chemical-based scents in your work area.
  • Avoid using laundry products or cleaning agents that are scented. Air out drycleaned clothing before wearing.

Increase your awareness

To protect individuals with fragrance sensitivities and to possibly prevent others from developing such sensitivities, faculty, staff, students, and visitors are strongly encouraged to avoid or reduce the use of fragranced products, and to replace them with unscented alternatives. This is a request for voluntary cooperation towards a scent-reduced environment, and not a ban on scented products.

Other strategies for messaging

  • Adding verbiage to your email exchanges/signature line and other correspondences.
  • Adding verbiage to automatic replies (if applicable).
  • Adding verbiage to automatic replies when faculty/students book times (if applicable).
  • Adding information to specific department webpages.
  • Adding information to Blackboard sites.
  • If you feel you can do so comfortably, approach the scented individual, and let him/her know how you or others react to fragrances. Be specific about the types of physical reactions you or others have (e.g. asthma attacks, migraines, shortness of breath). Talk to the individual in a cordial and respectful manner. Ask for their understanding and cooperation. Many people are unaware of the potential health effects of fragrance chemicals.

Information Poster 

Feel free to print this poster to hang in your office or work area.

2. Help Reduce the Number of False Fire Alarms

A false alarm is an alarm activated by a detector that is not caused by an actual fire. 

Why are false alarms dangerous and/or costly? 

  • When firefighters are responding to a false alarm, they are not available to respond to actual emergencies.
  • Death and serious injury have occurred in cases where people believed they were hearing “just another false alarm” and failed to evacuate a building in time to save themselves.
  • False alarms increase risks to firefighters and the community. 
  • False alarms take additional wear and tear on fire trucks and equipment. 

You can help reduce the number of false alarms – and safeguard our community – by reviewing and addressing the common causes of false alarms. 

False alarms can be caused by:

  • Poorly installed smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Malfunctioning or improperly maintained alarm devices and equipment. 
  • Accidental damage to devices or alarm systems.
  • Dust, steam, and debris interfering with an alarm device.
  • Malicious actions, and 
  • Fire drills or tests that are not communicated in advance to the Fire Department.

What you can do to help reduce the number of false alarms:

  • If you have a contractor performing hot work, ensure you reach out to to request a Hot Work Permit in advance of the planned work.
  • Keep the area around the smoke/heat detectors and sprinklers clear and do not store items, shelving or equipment close to smoke/heat detectors and sprinklers.
  • Activities that may generate heat or smoke have the potential to trigger fire alarms. Anticipate and plan for activities that may set off the fire alarm. If unsure, reach out to  to confirm work activities in advance of the planned activity.

3. Avoid "Cable Management Chaos"

Kingston Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) Workplace Inspection Findings

Working in any office means lots of devices, which come with wires and cables on and under desks. Lots of draping and disorganized cables and cords can be hazardous. Finding ways to keep cables organized will make for safer spaces, as well as make for easier installation or removal of devices, prevention of damage to cables and wires and ease-of-cleaning for custodial staff.

To help everyone avoid “cable management chaos”, the Kingston Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) is offering Velcro cable ties to anyone who would like to make their workspace safer, and easier for custodial staff to keep clean. Please contact if you wish to be provided with a cable tie.

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