Meet Environmental Health and Safety: Campus guardians – Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma 2021-12-07 01:18:27 –

Monday, December 6, 2021

Media Contact: Shannon Rigsby | Public Information Officer | 405-744-9081 | shannon.rigsby@okstate.edu

Whether you know it or not, environmental health and safety people are always thinking about ways to make your experience on campus safer.

There are four very different departments in this department, working behind the scenes of Oklahoma State University to maintain a safe environment and prevent injuries.

Headed by Kim Seupworth, an industrial hygiene scholar in the Air Force for over 20 years, EHS focuses on finding the best solutions to protect people, property and the environment.

“Our role at the university is to continue classes, conduct research, and ensure that faculty, staff, students, and visitors are safe while here,” she said. “It’s a big duty for the university.”

With over 380 buildings and 800-acre campuses with thousands of people, the work is monumental.

The EHS Fire and Life Safety Department maintains a portable fire extinguisher (all 3,380 units) on campus and checks it monthly. Also, evaluate all buildings on campus to ensure they meet the appropriate firefighting rules.

The Environmental Compliance Department disposes of all chemical waste on campus, including the purification of small amounts of effluent. They work with their principal investigators (faculty members doing research in university laboratories) to study where to dispose of chemicals and materials. They know how to pack, secure transportation, and meet regulated disposal requirements.

The laboratory safety department has surveyed more than 1,100 laboratories on campus, appropriate personal protective equipment is available, safety equipment is functioning, and doors are properly labeled. Make sure that. In numbers, they check 461 drafts, 264 safety showers, 427 drench hoses, and 318 eye wash stations each year.

Also, make sure that the chemicals are stored properly. It may seem logical to store chemicals in alphabetical order, but EHS ensures that they are stored by class. We also work with the principal investigators in each lab to manage chemical inventory online.

The EHS Occupational Safety Department is committed to ensuring that universities implement all occupational health and safety management programs such as trench safety, closed space safety, and lockout / tagout. .. They investigate all injuries reported on campus, including near misses.

“If we can find the root cause, we can get rid of it, so we check them,” Southworth said. “For example, if someone trips over a part of the sidewalk but doesn’t get injured, it’s still considered an incident. We’ll work with facility management to fix the problem.”

Occupational safety is also becoming more involved in construction safety, including the assessment of safety protocols by contractors.

“We protect everyone from potential problems on campus,” Southworth said. “Education is our main mission at the university. The whole mission is to keep people safe. There is always a regulatory element, but it is secondary to keeping everyone safe. If everyone arrived the same, we fulfilled our mission. ”

Southworth introduced a new level of accuracy after taking over in 2018. This department is doing what she calls a “continuity document.” All processes and procedures are documented and reviewed regularly. They identify missions, define parameters and perform them. For example, some labs may be considered messy, but what is the definition of “messy” and when does it matter? EHS works to define variables and apply them equally.

Southworth immediately praises the members of the EHS team.

“What they do makes sense,” she said. “They do a great job when it comes to the number of laboratories, safety devices and buildings. We have goals and missions developed for EHS, all of which are the best the university can do. We are very devoted to it to ensure that. “

Michael Robinson, OSU’s Director of Public Security, said he was proud of the work EHS is doing to support stakeholders throughout the campus.

“It was never by design, but there were times when EHS was seen as an obstacle to their activities,” he said. “Under the leadership of Kim Seupworth, EHS is now a true” partner “and is seen as a resource to help others reach their goals. The hard work of Kim and her employees has created a department that fosters a great culture and promotes the “Let’s see how this can be achieved” attitude. campus.

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