Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 08:53:51 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Ray Cook <raycook**At_Symbol_Here**APEXHSE.COM>
Subject: Re: safety culture in academia & industry
In-Reply-To: <007001cbff58$79373fe0$6ba5bfa0$**At_Symbol_Here**>
Greetings all!

I have avoided chiming in on this discussion, but I do have some comments to

Safe performance of work has to be taught as a value not a priority.
Priorities can be manipulated, values cannot.  Management must have the
perspective that we will do it safely, or we will not do it.  Management,
down to the supervisory level, owns the processes.  HES personnel are
valuable resources to help management understand how to do things safely,
but the bottom line is that the line organization is the owner of the work
and is ultimately responsible for everything from setting the example by
confirming the wearing of PPE to creating safe work processes and assuring
that personnel are trained and competent to do the work with a focus on
doing it right, thus safely.  I do not want to see HES professionals become
enforcers of safety rules, as that is not their job, and only serves to
distance them from the workforce they are there to assist.  When there are
problems to be solved, line management is to be held accountable.  No one
should be passing it to HES to implement a solution, although they will be

This must surely be more difficult in Academia, as it is almost a monumental
task to get management to understand this in industry.  I have been
associated with very few companies that actually take this to heart, but
what a difference it makes!  I do believe we are missing the boat on
teaching college graduates who enter either area and do not have this most
basic understanding.  You can shape the attitudes of those just entering the
workforce, but changing the attitudes of those who have been doing it
another way for many years can be almost insurmountable, depending on the
person.  But like you, I believe we must keep trying to make a difference,
and I am doing my part, one company at a time.


Raymond L. Cook, Jr.,  MSIH, CIH, CSP
Pesident & Principal Consultant

1 Cor 1:18

-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of
Ralph Stuart
Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 7:43 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] safety culture in academia & industry

From: Russ Phifer 
Re: safety culture in academia & industry

I really appreciated Mike Wright's perspective on this issue. I too get to
see safety from both perspectives, since I have clients in both industry and
academia. Mike is correct that academia CAN get it right if they provide
their safety professionals and faculty with the time, resources and
authority to do so. Some of the safest "workplaces" I know are those schools
that have the support of their administration to make safety a priority. The
other side is. an accident waiting to happen. The best example I can give is
of the college that asked me to review the chemical hygiene plan for their
chemistry department. I suggested that once the plan was revised and final
that my contact take the plan to the college President to have it signed, to
show her support for the Department's safety efforts. The President refused,
saying that it was a human resources issue and that someone from that office
should sign the plan. This is despite the university's claim to be
"committed to the high standards of quality in promoting a safe and
problem-free educational environment". If actions speak louder than words,
then this school is an accident waiting to happen.

The corollary is industrial facilities that don't give their safety
professionals the authority to enforce safety rules. One facility where I
work, for example, refuses to require supervisors to wear appropriate eye
protection when in the plant. What kind of example does that set, when a
worker can be written up for a safety violation and a supervisor on the same
floor can't? It will take a supervisor getting hurt before that changes. 

The best facilities, and the safest ones, are those that recognize the value
of a strong safety culture and realize that while safety is not a profit
center, it affects the bottom line in many ways. There is a reason safety
consultants and trainers get many of their new clients after an accident, or
an inspection with violations. but by then the damage has already been done
in terms of injury, death, financial harm and/or a public relations

We recognize the value of preventive medicine in our lives; why do so many
academic and industrial facilities not recognize the value of preventive
safety measures?


Russ Phifer
WC Environmental, LLC
1085C Andrew Drive
West Chester, PA  19380
610-696-9220x12/ fax 610-344-7519
Cell - 610-322-0657

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