ASU wins two awards at chemical safety health conference

three men pose with an Environmental Health and Safety award

The Arizona State University Environmental Health and Safety Department received two awards at the CSHEMA (Chemical Safety Health and Environmental Management Association) national conference held on July 29.

The mission of the assocation is to support and to educate campus‐based environmental health and safety professionals to empower and to improve institutional environmental health and safety programs in campus environments. ASU is a CSHEMA member along with nearly 400 other universities, including most major research universities.

ASU brought home both the “Solutions at Work” award and CSHEMA’s highest level of award, the “Complete Environmental Health and Safety Program – Award of Honor.” The Award of Honor recognizes safety organizations that strive for excellence in designing and implementing their environmental health and safety programs.

“It is an honor to be recognized in this way for our work and results that are often not flashy, but effective,” said Leon Igras, director of ASU's Environmental Health and Safety Department. “It also acknowledges the cumulative level of service and body of work of our entire department provides.”

To achieve this level of award, ASU had to demonstrate that its environmental health and safety programs not only address all areas of compliance, but also had to provide specific examples as evidence that the department's programs are effective. Programs evaluated for the Award of Honor include:

• biosafety
• chemical safety
• emergency management
• environmental management
• fire safety
• general safety programs
• government relations
• incident prevention programs
• radiation safety

ASU's department demonstrated comprehensive programs in each area and also highlighted a number of innovative programs such as unique training and sustainability initiatives. Examples of training programs focused on innovative approaches to Fire, Biosafety, and Lab Safety training. ASU’s Green Labs and waste reduction initiatives were also featured. Successful implementation of these programs focused on the Environmental Health and Safety Compliance Officer Program. University employees volunteer as compliance officers to help ensure that laboratories and offices are operated in a safe manner. Compliance officers take training classes through the Environmental Health and Safety Department, act as conduits for information from the department and notify the department of any unresolved compliance issues involving potential safety hazards, exposures, injuries or other issues.

“We work with personnel throughout the ASU community to communicate, innovate and implement many of our programs and initiatives, especially ASU’s Compliance Officers,” Igras said. “We want to acknowledge everyone who assists us with meeting our mission and share this award with all ASU personnel who foster safe work behavior.”

The department brought home a second CSHEMA award, Solutions at Work. The award was bestowed to the team that developed and implemented the Compressed Gas training program, “Under Pressure,” which was a collaborative effort of faculty, staff and students.

Solutions at Work award winners had to provide evidence that the program had a positive impact on a problem, is applicable to other universities and is innovative and cost effective.

The “Under Pressure” course is divided into 11 segments, none of which are longer than 12 minutes. This allows for maximum flexibility to allow participants to fit the training into their schedules. A mentor program was also initiated, which requires that upon completion of the course, the students must contact an expert user in the work area to observe them performing key tasks.

“It is extremely satisfying and gratifying that our efforts and programs have been recognized by a national organization like CSHEMA, but equally important that they be well received among our population and contribute to preventing incidents here at ASU,” Igras said.