News and Tips

June - Firework Safety 

 "In 2017, at least eight people died and about 12,900 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission." 2017 Firework Annual Report 



 On average each year, fireworks will cause:

  • 18,500 fires/ year
    • 1,300 Structure Fires 
    • 300 Vehicle Fires 
    • 16,900 Outside and Other Fires
  • Cause an average of 3 deaths and 40 civilian injuries
  • Cost approximately $43 million dollars in direct property damage

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has these helpful safety tips for using fireworks.

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Avoid buying fireworks wrapped in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays, and could be dangerous to consumers
  • Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited
  • Never throw or shoot fireworks at another person or animal
  • Never shoot fireworks off in a metal or glass container
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket

From the National Fire Protection Association, How Hot Does a Sparkler Burn? 

  • Sparklers Burn at 1200°F
  • Glass Melts at 900°F
  • Wood Burns at 575°F
  • Cakes Bake at 350°F
  • Water Boils at 212°F

Watch the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission's Firework Safety 2018 Video or the National Fire Protection Association Consumer Firework Safety Public Service Announcement to learn more about Firework Safety!

May - Gardening Safety

 "According to Garden Research's 2018 national survey, Americans set a record by spending $47.8 billion on lawn and garden products and services this year. That breaks down to an average of $503 per household in 2018 - up nearly $100 from 2017."

Tool Shed

With people spending more time and money on gardening in the United States, it is important to make sure you are staying safe outside while doing yard work. Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind while you are gardening and enjoying the outdoors this summer.

  • Dress to Protect - Use Personal Protective Equipment
    • If using powered tools or equipment wear safety glasses, sturdy shoes and long pants
    • Protect your hearing by using ear plugs or muffs when using loud machinery
    • Wear gloves to protect your hands from blisters, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, fungi, and sharp tools
    • Use insect repellent to protect yourself from garden pests, like ticks and mosquitoes
  • Heat Stress and Hydration
    • Know your limits in the heat, drink more fluids, take breaks often, and watch for symptoms of heat related illnesses
    • Eat healthy meals before yard work to keep you energized
    • Block the sun, wear sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face, head, ears, and neck
    • The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. have the most UV exposure in the United States
    • Stay hydrated, so drink plenty of water
  • Chemicals and Tools
    • Follow instructions on chemical warning labels
    • Always keep chemicals out of the reach of children
    • Make sure that your mechanical equipment is working properly and follow the rules of the instruction manual
  • Ergonomics
    • Do warm up exercises before you start work in the garden
    • Avoid repetitive motions, switch up your tasks every 15 minutes and take a break in between each task
    • Kneeling instead of bending over puts less strain on your back, try using knee pads for extra comfort
    • Take care when lifting heavy objects, lift with your legs not with your back, if something is too heavy, get assistance from a friend or use a tool like a cart to help you

April - Injury Reporting

Do you know what to do if a student gets injured in your classroom? What if a coworker was hurt during a work related event? The Environmental Health and Safety Webpage can help you know how to respond to and what to do after a medical emergency. 

If it is a LIFE THREATENING injury, call 911. If you are unsure about the severity of the situation, just dial 911, we want the ambulance responding as soon as possible. 

Call 911 if the individual has:

  • Persistent or sudden chest pain
  • Breathing emergencies
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Severe altered level of consciousness 
  • Injuries from falling, severe head injuries, severe burns, etc. 

If there is a NON-life threatening injury like:

  • A twisted ankle, wrist and/or back pain
  • A cut that requires medical attention and/or possibly stitches
  • Debris, dust and/or chemicals in the eye (use eyewash station first, if available)

For non-life threatening situation employees should notify their supervisor and proceed to: NCH Outpatient Care Center in Building M. Students and guests may seek services at NCH Outpatient Care Center, however they will be responsible for all service costs. Or students and guests can seek medical attention from their primary care physician. 

NCH Occupational Care Center

Below are the injury report forms, it is important to fill these forms out as soon as possible, with as much detail as you can remember. The purpose of incident reporting is to investigate the event and develop ways to prevent reoccurrence.

You can also check out the Harper Police Webpage for more information. Or check out this safety video created by the Department of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management, and the Harper College Police Department! "Emergency Procedures at Harper College."

March - Office Ergonomics

The goal of office ergonomics is to design your office work station so that it fits you and allows for a comfortable working environment for maximum productivity and efficiency. Harper's Office Ergonomics program is through Environmental Health & Safety.

Visit this link to review our Office Ergonomics Webpage.

Did you know that the chair you are sitting on might be adjustable? The two main office chairs that we have on campus are the KI Engage chair and the Steelcase Criterion chair. Depending on which type of chair you are sitting in, there are many different ways on how to adjust them to better fit you.

Chair features include:

  • Tilt Tension - Increase or decrease the ability to lean the chair back
  • Seat Slide - The seat pan can move in and out, to support the thighs
  • Back Height - The back of the chair can move up and down, adjusting the lumbar support
  • Seat Height - The height of the chair is adjustable
  • Armrest Adjustability - The armrests will move up and down. The KI chair's armrests pivot and the Steelcase chair armrests will adjust in width.

Ergonomic Chairs

Remember to maintain a neutral position, meaning:

  • Your feet should be flat on the floor, if not then use a footrest.
  • Your knees, hips, shoulders and elbows should all be at a relaxed 90-degree angle
  • The mouse should be next to the key board
  • The top of the monitor should be at or a little below eye level, so you are looking down at the screen.

Do you work at the computer and use a phone at the same time? If so, you might benefit from using a phone headset. Do you do a lot of computer entry from paperwork? If so, maybe you should use a document holder. If you do not already have one of these items and feel that you would benefit from having it, talk with your supervisor.

For more helpful tips about your workstation, view our Ergonomic Procedure.

Or, if you are still having trouble with your chair, schedule an Ergonomic Evaluation today by contacting or dialing extension x6929. Environmental Health staff will stop by and help adjust your workstation.

December - Slips,Trips and Falls 

With winter months, comes the possibility of snow and ice. Please be careful walking to and from your vehicles, as well as walking around campus. Contact Facilities Management, 847.925.6350, to report any ice hazards or any seasonal safety issues.


To be prepared for snow storms and extreme cold, check out's webpage for additional safety tips. Or visit the American Red Cross, to review their materials on Winter Storm Preparedness. Snow & Ice Management Association, is a non-profit trade association with a focus on training, events and best practices related to snow plowing, ice management and business management. Here is their top 10 tips for safe walking in the snow and ice:

  1. Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid smooth soled shoes.
  2. Plan Ahead. Walk consciously and occasionally look around you for other hazards instead of staring at your feet.
  3. Make sure you can hear approaching traffic or other noises that signify a hazard is approaching, like oncoming traffic or snow removal equipment.
  4. Accessorize to see and to be seen. Wear sunglasses so you can see in the reflective light of snow and wear bright colors so drivers can see you.
  5. Anticipate ice. Black ice may appear as wet pavement. Ice often appears in the morning or in shady spots where the sun cannot melt it.
  6. Take slow steps, hold onto handrails firmly when going down stairs, and plant your feet firmly.
  7. Enter buildings carefully, there may be wet floors at the entrance that are slippery from melted snow and ice.
  8. Take extra care when you shift your weight, like when stepping off a curb or getting into a vehicle, ice may cause an imbalance and result in a fall.
  9. Avoid taking shortcuts, these paths may be dangerous because it is likely to be in a place where snow and ice removal is not possible.
  10. Look up above you and be careful what you might be walking under. Falling snow and ice may happen when the wind blows and breaks parts away from awnings and buildings.

November - Holiday Decorating Safety 

Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are about 14,700 holiday decorating related emergency room treated injuries during the holiday season of November and December. The most frequent causes for injury during decorating includes falls (41%), cuts or lacerations (10%) and back strains (5%).

Harper College Holiday Decoration Requirements

  • Open flame candles and incense are not allowed inside any campus buildings. 
  • Any space heater shall be UL rated, have a tip-over safety feature, and be plugged into a wall outlet.
  • Holiday decorations shall not block any emergency exit signage, fire alarm pull stations or fire extinguishers.
  • Decorations are not allowed to hang from sprinkler heads or the ceiling grid. 
  • All holiday lights shall be LED and are UL approved. 
  • Connect no more than three (3) strands of lights for every one (1) extension cord (See extension cords safety below).
  • Be sure to use a proper step stool or ladder when putting up holiday decorations in high places, DO NOT stand on office chairs or desks. 
  • Only small artificial, fire resistant trees and greenery are allowed inside campus buildings.

Extension Cord Safety

  • Extension cords are for temporary use only. 
  • Do not daisy chain extension cords together. 
  • They should be in good condition, no exposed wires or broken plugs.
  • The extension cord should be equal to or larger than the cord you plug into it. If in doubt, use a heavy duty cord.
  • Do not tack or staple an extension cord to the wall or woodwork, this will damage the cord and present a fire hazard. 
  • Make sure cords do not dangle off of tables or across floors, this presents a trip hazard.

October - Fire Safety 

Did you know that, according to, "Each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States. But unlike other disasters, home fires can be prevented!"


Every October, Harper College holds an annual fire drill. Everyone on campus is required to participate, and the goal is to exit your building within three (3) minutes. The Palatine Fire Department assists and conducts an evaluation to see how we do against the three minute goal. Staff Members who have volunteered as evacuation personnel, should review their evacuation duties.

Learn more about what you can do at home to stay safe - from preventing a fire, to responding to a fire emergency, to getting help in the aftermath of a fire: