Everyone Goes Home! Staff safety within library off-site storage collections

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At the Pennsylvania State University Library Annex, staff safety is paramount when working within collection storage areas. Closed to the public, our unit consists of four separate facilities, three of which are unmanned. Thorough training, effective communication and the use of safe practices and safety devices is crucial to keeping everyone safe. A combination of verbal and non-verbal forms of communication ensure all team members are aware of the location of others working within the collection. This includes recorded and/or verbal communication between staff; flashing beacons at the end of each bay to indicate occupancy within a compact shelving bay; barrier tape at the far end of each range within compact storage bays to prevent unsafe entry into the bay by other staff; and sensors at the base of each range to stop the travel of compact shelving if an obstacle is detected. Radios are used to keep staff alert to the condition of others who may be using a lift or otherwise working alone. Well-maintained and appropriately-sized ladders and hydraulic lifts with safety barriers are also used to promote staff safety. Orange vests, safety cones, and teaming up to move heavy book trucks contribute to the safe transfer of additional material to the collection. When an issue arises that compromises safety, a blue-colored cone is located at the site to alert library and maintenance staff as to the location of the problem. Our HelpDesk Ticket system allows library staff to communicate a problem directly to maintenance personnel for evaluation.