Los Angeles Unified School District

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Key OEHS Programs

Addressing Environmental Health and Safety in LAUSD Schools

The Los Angeles Unified School District is committed to providing a safe, healthy and productive environment for its 672,000 students and 80,000 employees. 

The Office of Environmental Health and Safety OEHS) is dedicated to providing a safe and healthy environment for the students and employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District. This mission is supported through periodic inspections of existing District facilities, and careful evaluation of all school sites to ensure a school environment that is health-protective and conducive to learning.  The 2012 OEHS Services Overview can be found by clicking here:

OEHS administers a range of health and safety programs, several of which are summarized below. Click on any link of interest for further information. 

  • Indoor Environmental Quality

Concerns or complaints associated with indoor air quality, excessive classroom noise or inadequate lighting should be directed to OEHS at (213) 241-3199. For further information, refer to Safety Alert No. 13-02, Indoor Environmental Quality (*.pdf).  

  • Odors & Other Air Emissions

If odors or other air emissions from a nearby industrial facility are affecting school occupants, immediate notification should be made to the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) at 1-800-288-7664 and OEHS at (213) 241-3199. For further information, refer to Safety Alert No. 03-02, Procedures – Responding to Toxic Air Emissions (*.pdf)  and Safety Alert No. 01-04, Procedures – Toxic Air Release (*.pdf).

  • Assessment of Proposed New School Sites

The LAUSD is currently engaged in the largest building program in its history.  Since July 1, 2001, OEHS has performed more than 100 environmental assessments of proposed new school sites.  The purpose of these assessments is to ensure that site conditions will not pose a significant risk to future site occupants.  State laws in this area were reformed in 2001 based upon the assessment protocols established at LAUSD.  The OEHS review process includes the following:  geohazard assessment; pipeline safety hazard analysis; rail safety analysis;  EMF assessment; air quality risk assessment; traffic impact/pedestrian safety assessment; and soil/groundwater contamination assessment.  The findings of these studies are documented in the Environmental Impact Report or Mitigated Negative Declaration prepared for each site pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act.  OEHS has also developed "Distance Criteria" to establish an adequate buffer zone between high risk features (eg. freeways, industrial facilities, landfills, rail lines, pipe lines, power lines) and proposed new school sites.  For more information, see OEHS Distance Criteria, Revised 12/10/08                                                                                                                          

In 1988 and 1999, OEHS conducted studies of lead in drinking water.  Both studies concluded that daily flushing of drinking fountains for 30 seconds would reduce lead concentrations below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended guidelines. To implement these recommendations, the District developed a policy for flushing drinking fountains (see the updated version: Reference Guide 3930.4 (*.pdf), Daily Flushing Requirements for Non-Refrigerated Drinking Fountains).  In 2008, the District initiated a comprehensive study to sample all drinking water sources at all schools.  Based on the U.S. EPA's recommended action level of 15 PPB (parts per billion), drinking water fixtures that exceeded the action level of 15 PPB on the first draw were retested after flushing for 30 seconds. If the results were still above 15 PPB the fixture was shut off until corrective actions to reduce lead levels had been implemented.  Drinking water testing results will be posted on the OEHS website as they become available. Copies of reports may also be requested from OEHS at (213) 241-3199.

  • Reducing the Risk of Workplace Injuries

OEHS is available to assist site administrators in determining the cause of workplace accidents and developing an action plan to reduce the frequency of worker injuries. Site administrators may request a Loss Analysis Report specific to a school, location, or Division, which can help to identify problem areas. A Loss Analysis Report is distributed to each Division on a quarterly basis, and includes information on the number and cost of workplace injuries by location. Accident prevention training can be arranged by contacting OEHS at (213) 241-3199. For further information, refer to Safety Alert No. 04-14, Accident Investigation and Reporting (*.pdf), Safety Alert 04-02, Reporting Safety Hazards (*.pdf), and Safety Alert 03-03, District Response to Serious Incidents (*.pdf).

  • Construction Safety Concerns

Many existing schools are undergoing modernization or other construction activity. Construction projects are designed to minimize disruption of school operations and ensure the health and safety of students and staff. However, in the event that construction activity creates a condition that potentially places school occupants at risk, notification should be made to the Project Manager and OEHS. For further information, refer to Safety Alert No. 04-09, Safety Precautions for Staff at School Sites under Construction (*.pdf).                                                                                                  

In 2001, routine health and safety inspections were initiated in all District schools to assess compliance with Federal, State and District requirements. The inspections are designed to assess compliance with 14 health and safety standards. Each of these standards are in the Safe School Inspection Guidebook (Revised September 2015) (*.pdf).  At the time of each inspection, the OEHS inspector documents necessary corrective action, and issues a Corrective Action Notice and Compliance Scorecard. The effectiveness of this program is apparent in reviewing compliance scorecards for all schools for the years 2003 and 2006.  In 2003, the schools were rated 39% poor, 59% fair and 3 % good.  In 2006, the ratings were 7% poor, 74% fair and 19% good.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has recently released the Healthy School Environmental Assessment Tool (Healthy SEAT) nation-wide for schools to implement an inspection program based on the model created by LAUSD. 

In December 2011, LAUSD awarded a District-wide rubbish collection and recycling services contract to Republic Services, Inc. They provide support to the District in an effort to divert more of its waste stream from landfills by launching a renewed effort to increase recycling throughout the District. Republic’s Recycling Outreach Team are visiting schools and other District facilities to discuss their current rubbish service and the opportunity to increase recycling in the classrooms, staff offices, cafeterias, operations facilities and Local District offices. For more information regarding the recycling program, refer to Memorandum MEM-5696.0, Update to New Rubbish and Recycling Services Program and LAUSD District-Wide Expanded Recycling Program.

  • Design Criteria for Healthy and Sustainable Schools 

LAUSD is the first school district in the nation to adopt sustainable design criteria  for all new school and modernization projects.  These criteria are issued by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS).  OEHS consults with the Facilities Division to ensure periodic revision of design specifications and guidelines pursuant to CHPS criteria.  Please refer to Board Resolution on Sustainability and Design of High Performance Schools, 10-14-03 and the Board Resolution on High Performance School Construction, 02-13-01.

  • Hazardous Waste Disposal 

Schools and other District facilities routinely generate chemical waste from science laboratories, shop classes, and maintenance activities. In addition, all District facilities routinely generate electronic wastes, including outdated computers, televisions, cathode ray tubes, and other electronic components. Waste disposal services can be arranged by calling OEHS at (213) 241-3199. Reference can also be made to REF-4149.0, Disposal Procedures for Hazardous Waste and Universal Waste (*.pdf) Safety Alert No. 03-11, Procedures – Disposal of Electronic Devices (*.pdf) and the Universal Waste Recycling Flyer (*pdf).

Traffic hazards and conditions endangering the safety of pedestrians should be reported to School Police at (213) 625-6631, the local police department, and OEHS at (213) 241-3199. To request traffic surveys, speed limit signs, pavement markings, crossing guards or other assistance in resolving traffic and pedestrian risks, call OEHS or see Reference Guide REF-4492, School Traffic Safety (*.pdf). Pedestrian maps to schools can be found on the OEHS website or on individual school websites. 

The Board of Education has adopted two resolutions on “high risk” facilities in proximity to schools. (Siting of New Schools Near Industrial Facilities, February 2005 (*.pdf) and High Risk Land Use, January 2003 (*.pdf)).  A “high risk” facility is defined as an industrial facility whose normal operation presents a risk of explosion, or may potentially expose school occupants to hazardous air emissions. OEHS maintains a "High Risk Land Use, January 2003" of industrial facilities within 500 feet of District schools. Schools experiencing “industrial” odors or other industrial air emissions should refer to Reference Guide REF - 5892.0, Environmental hazards in Proximity to Schools (*.pdf).

  • Peeling Lead Paint

The California Department of Health Services estimates that lead-containing paint is present in 80% of California public elementary schools. Lead paint surfaces represent little risk of exposure when maintained in good condition. However, deteriorated surfaces may pose a significant risk of exposure to young children. Evidence of deteriorated paint surfaces should be reported to the District’s Maintenance and Operations Branch at (213) 633-7587and OEHS at (213) 241-3199. General questions about lead exposure may also be directed to the County Department of Public Health at 1-800-LA-4-LEAD. 

Inquiries on health and safety issues may be made to OEHS at http://www.lausd-oehs.org/questions or by calling (213) 241-3199 and asking for the Duty Officer.


Leer en español: Cómo Solucioner Problemas de salud y seguridad en las escuelas del LAUSD