About a year ago, I worked to establish safety committees for a number of engineering facilities on our SW campus. Originally intended to be one safety committee for the whole SW campus, I met with resistance, as personnel in one facility did not feel comfortable with the idea of having safety oversight responsibilities for other facilities. Therefore, we opted to establish four safety committees, one for each of the separate facilities, each of which comprises specialized research. I made suggestions about the make-up of the committee members and what kinds of issues the committees would address, but I did not want to be the committee Chair, rather wanting to empower the facilities personnel to be in charge of safety. Instead, I sit on the committees to remind them of overall university safety policy, make sure they are aware of compliance issues, let them know how other departments have addressed issues under discussion, add agenda items for discussion, etc. The interesting result is that the four safety committees operate in completely different ways, each having a separate “personality”, but all seem to have developed methods and missions that are working for them.
In addition, we have long standing safety committees in our Chemistry Department and Magnet Lab. The effectiveness of any committee, in my view, is directly related to the ability of a committee chair to lead and provide vision, and the support of the department or facilities administration for the work performed by the committee.
If you want details of what kinds of agenda items the committees address, just let me know.
Laboratory Safety Officer
Florida State University
Does anyone have department based safety committees (Chemistry, Physics, Biology) at their institution? If so, what is the role of the safety committee and how does it interface with Environmental Health & Safety. Do charters exist for each committee and would anyone mind sharing an example?
Physical Sciences Facilities Management
121 baker Lab
Ithaca, NY 14850
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