July 17, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 19

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    University’s environmental health, safety office wins top program prize

    By Laurie Davis
    News Office

    The University’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety has proven that its program is among the best in the country and will soon receive an Award of Honor from CSHEMA (Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association).

    The Award of Honor is the highest recognition in the CSHEMA awards program and is given to an institution that has shown through stringent documentation that its complete environmental, health and safety program is operating at the highest standards.

    CSHEMA will confer the honor Monday, July 28 at the International Conference on Campus Safety in St. Louis.

    Glenn Klinksiek, Assistant Vice President for Risk Management, Audit and Safety, said receiving this award is a great honor and illustrates the University’s commitment to creating a safe campus environment for its community.

    “The professionals in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety have worked hard to ensure our campus is as safe as possible. CSHEMA’s recognition of their accomplishments shows that the University takes seriously its commitment to provide a safe place for our faculty to conduct research and for our students to learn.”

     Steve Beaudoin, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, noted that the University has been recognized by CSHEMA in the past. “In 1998, the University’s program was acknowledged with an Award of Merit. Since then, we’ve improved our program and entered the competition this year in the Complete Environmental, Health and Safety Program category, for which we won the Award of Honor.” Beaudoin also noted that the association has not presented this top award to an institution in the past two years. “No submittal had met the stringent criteria, so winning this recognition has even greater meaning,” said Beaudoin.

    CSHEMA requires an institution to score at least 90 percent to be considered for the Award of Honor and provide “substantiating evidence,” which is key to earning high scores in a range of areas. The scoring system is based on a total of 100 points.

    Each area being judged contains multiple questions, and supportive documentation must be provided for each answer. For example, five categories—policy, communication, committees, funding and auditing, and illness and injury program—fall under the first section of the evaluation—Administrative Leadership and Safety Organization.

    Sample questions include: “Are students instructed in the basic principles of accident prevention in courses, particularly in laboratory environments?” “Have specific funds been allocated to eliminate safety, health and environmental hazards on the campus?”

    Over a period of three months, Krista Cooley, Associate Director for Environmental Health and Safety, compiled the required materials for submission. “Responding to the questions and compiling the material was a very detail-oriented process requiring extensive thought, not only for the actual response, but also providing the most substantiating evidence of a formalized safety program,” said Cooley.

    She also noted that she worked with many other departments on campus to obtain the appropriate documentation, including student residence halls, to obtain the specific fire procedures for each dormitory as well as the process for conveying and distributing the information to the students. “We also provided copies of training booklets that demonstrate our train-the-trainer approach for undergraduate teaching laboratories in the Department of Chemistry,” she added.

    This long and detailed submission preparation for the Award of Honor provides an opportunity for self-evaluation. “In addition to the recognition we received, the process involved a detailed internal audit of the University’s Environmental Health and Safety program,” said Beaudoin. CSHEMA’s main goal is to promote recurring internal safety audits.

    Cheri Hildreth, chair of CSHEMA, wrote in a letter that the association awards program is intended to encourage institutions to strive for excellence in their programs. “We hope that your participation in this year’s program has continued to help you in the development of your safety program. We know your submission into this awards program required considerable time and effort.”

    The qualification system for the Award of Honor reinforces two of the association’s objectives: to suggest avenues for formalizing policy and suggest methods that strengthen a program. Representatives of peer institutions across the country serve as judges, who share their comments on the submissions with the competing entrants.

    Beaudoin also acknowledged that this accomplishment is a direct result of the University’s commitment to environmental health and safety and the community’s participation in the continued development of the program.