EH&S Safety News

Enhancing a Culture of Safety: The New University Health and Safety Policy and Responsibilities
by Jude Van Buren, Director, Environmental Health & Safety

President Michael Young approved a revised UW health and safety policy, Executive Order No. 55, which emphasizes that ALL campus personnel are responsible for safety. This policy clarifies the role of all UW organizational units and individuals in meeting their health and safety responsibilities.

According to the revised Executive Order No. 55, all faculty, staff, students, and volunteers have the following safety responsibilities:

  • Follow all health and safety regulations, policies, and procedures
  • Participate in health and safety training
  • Report workplace safety and health hazards, violations, and on-the-job incidents, injury, and illness
  • Pay attention to personal and other’s safety

Several factors prompted these changes:

  • The former safety policy was unclear and did not define responsibilities campus wide
  • EH&S was not staffed to meet all expectations of customers
  • Budget constraints and changing needs required EH&S to set priorities, find efficiencies, and target ways to enhance health and safety

The provost appointed an advisory board for campus-wide environmental health and safety, with staff, faculty, and student representatives from all three campuses. The board advised the president and provost on recommended changes for Executive Order No. 55. The Environmental Health and Safety Board also:

  • Serves as a resource and advisor to EH&S, University Health and Safety Committees, and other campus units with related safety responsibilities
  • Recommends institutional, occupational, and environmental health and safety goals
  • Advocates for a healthy and safe work environment

The revised Executive Order 55 clarifies responsibilities for VPs, chancellors, deans, directors, chairs, supervisors, and faculty supervising academic activities. These leaders should:

  • Reinforce a culture of health and safety
  • Oversee facilities, equipment, and practices to ensure a safe work environment
  • Ensure sufficient authority and support for staff to implement health and safety regulations
  • Understand and follow safety plans for all spaces
  • Assure compliance with health and safety training
  • Establish priorities and commit resources for correcting deficiencies

Ten UW health and safety committees comprised of representatives from the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma campuses enhance accident reporting and prevention programs, proactively evaluate and mitigate risks, and bring health and safety issues to the University-wide Health and Safety Committee.  

Everyone on campus plays a part in keeping the UW safe. EH&S supports that effort by communicating standards and best practices, and partnering for corrective action. EH&S also supports the health and safety committees, the EH&S Advisory Board, and all academic and central units, and acts as the liaison and coordinating office for working with external environmental and health and safety regulatory agencies.

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