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Environmental Health and Safety pays tribute to individuals who help ensure safety in ASU labs

Robert Scavetta (left)
October 31, 2012

An Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) luncheon this month paid tribute to Arizona State University’s compliance officers who volunteer to help ensure that university laboratories and offices are operated in a safe manner.

Compliance officers take training classes through Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S), act as informational conduits for EH&S and notify EH&S of any unresolved compliance issues involving potential safety hazards, exposures, injuries or other issues.

The October 2012 luncheon focused on fire safety with guest speaker Greg Ruiz, interim Tempe Fire Department chief, talking about how his department responds to the university and the vital role that compliance officers play when firefighters are called to the campus.

Vital information is often passed on during calls when compliance officers are on the scene to inform the fire department about materials inside that may affect how the firefighters respond.

Tempe Fire is equipped with building maps and works on the front end to identify potential problems such as basements where radios might not work properly. However, having someone there who works in the building and can directly answer questions is invaluable, he said.

“You are a key player,” he said. “Thank you for what you all do.”

While Ruiz paid tribute to all of the compliance officers assembled, Robert Scavetta was awarded with the EH&S Award for Excellence. The award is given to individuals, teams, departments or colleges that have made extraordinary contributions to campus safety and/or sustainable practices.

Scavetta, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry laboratory safety inspector and EH&S senior compliance officer, is a member of the EH&S Operations committee, the EH&S Laboratory Safety Officer committee and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Safety committee. He has assisted EH&S in laboratory registrations and inspections, and he has developed and provided safety training. In addition, Scavetta provides guidance to faculty labs to help with Occupational Safety & Health Administration regulations compliance and adherence to the ASU Chemical Hygiene Plan. 

Health & Safety Improvements

The work of compliance officers and lab workers also is paying off through improved accident rates with 76 reported in September of 2012 compared to 104 in 2011. Most injuries occur in stairwells when people don’t use handrails. One way that lab-safety awareness is improving is through a lab-safety self inspection tool that has had a good response among lab managers. A compressed gas training video is also in production.

In addition to honoring compliance officers, Jillian McManus, director of Organizational Health and Development, briefed attendees on the work her office accomplishes to address the university’s well being from a holistic viewpoint through assessments, prevention efforts and early intervention. Health and safety education is emphasized through services such as counseling, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, flu shots, stress management and heart health.

“We want to make sure that people are healthy,” she said. A healthy workforce is also one with less absenteeism and more workers who are actively engaged in their jobs.