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Environmental Health, Safety, and Risk Management

Office Safety

Fire and Electrical Concerns

Some of the most frequent violations of the fire code are found in office settings in, on and around campus. The tendency of occupants to treat their offices as their personal space and adopt habits that are not acceptable in a business setting results in frequent fire code violations. Be on the lookout for the following:

  • Extension cord and relocatable power tap misuse
    • Daisy chaining
      • Plugging one extension cord into another or plugging an extension cord into a powerstrip or vice versa.
    • Use of extension cords in lieu of permanent wiring
      • Extension cords should be for temporary use only.
      • Best practice would be to unplug an extension cord at the end of each shift.
  • Overloading circuits
    • If it heats/cools, shreds or copies, or produces significantly bright light - chances are it uses a LOT of electricity.
    • Just because there is an open plug doesn't mean it is safe to continue adding appliances
    • Although there is not currently a policy in place to prohibit cooking devices in individual offices it is likely on the horizon. Utilization of department break areas or conference rooms for food preparation is best practice.
  • Blocking electrical panels
    • If there is an electrical fire - the power needs to be turned off before the fire can be completely extinguished. If the electrical panel is inaccessible this will delay the fire fighting process and could result in additional fire damage or injury.
  • Inappropriate or excessive storage of unused decorative materials, equipment, or documents in offices and electrical/mechanical storage rooms.
    • Storage of ANY items in a room designated as an electrical/mechanical storage area "not necessary to maintain the building" is strictly prohibited by California Fire Code.
    • Excessive storage of unused items is fire loading. The more fire loading the more intense the heat of a fire; the hotter the fire gets, the more rapidly it spreads and the more damage it does. Discard or electronically archive unnecessary paperwork and surplus obsolete or damaged equipment.
  • Personal heaters
    • Combustible or flammable materials within 36" is strictly prohibited... including furniture!
    • Unapproved devices
      • Non-UL listed, all heaters used on campus must be UL (or other similarly accredited testing laboratory like CEL) listed.
      • Non-thermally overload protected. Thermal overload protection helps prevent the device from causing a fire in an overheating situation.
      • Those that fail to shut off automatically when tipped over. Per California Fire Code ALL heating devices must shut off when tipped over without exception.

Slips, Trips and Falls

  • Maintain corridor width in student and office areas of no less than 32"
  • Maintain walking access space in not normally occupied areas, like storage rooms, no less than 24"

Related Links


Worksite Inspections

Department Safety Coordinators Campus List