Campus Life

Campus Safety to socialize new Environmental Health Safety Management System

How often do you think about the safety risks associated with your job? How often does the person working next to you?

The safety of everyone on the University of Lethbridge campus is dependent on each and every member of the University community. Do you know if you are meeting the regulations set out by Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S)? Did you know that new policies have been put in place by the Government of Alberta?

In the coming months, Campus Safety, led by Chief Safety Officer Doug Mackie and Manager of Safety Carolin Cattoi-Demkiw, will be visiting all campus units to discuss new OH&S regulations and the U of L’s new Environmental Health Safety Management System (EHSMS), which was adopted as policy in June.

“We’re trying to continue to build a culture of safety,” says Mackie. “This is important, it’s a heightened emphasis on safety and we’re all going to be better for it. It’s looking out for yourself, looking out for others who work with you and making sure people go home safe at the end of the day.”

Simply because of the nature of the work that takes place on campus, risk is everywhere and while safety protocols have been in place for years, new regulations have made it imperative all post-secondary institutions revisit their EHSMS.

“The changes in the Occupational Health and Safety act are being felt throughout industry in Alberta and specifically within the post-secondary system,” says Mackie. “It’s never a bad thing to look at your safety protocols. This is about charting a course for continuous improvement and it couldn’t be more important because it involves life safety.”

The timing of the new policy also coincides with the impending opening of the new Science & Academic Building. A new facility, with a central chemical store, already prompts a reset of safety procedures.

“It really is a good time to talk about safety,” says Mackie. “We’re moving from old lab space to new lab space and we want to use the state-of-the-art facilities with a state-of-the-art safety plan. All the while, we have to keep in mind that the new EHSMS encompasses all of campus.”

Dr. Andy Hakin, provost and vice-president (academic), says it is incumbent upon everyone on campus to evaluate the risks associated with their activities and to properly equip themselves with the knowledge to conduct their work safely.

“Nobody comes to work thinking an accident is going to happen. Everyone has the best of intentions, but we cannot cut corners when it comes to our personal safety, that of the people we work with and our students,” says Hakin.

The campus community will have multiple opportunities to engage with the new protocols, from presentations to respective units to videos, training opportunities and a host website of information. For some, the messages will be a reinforcement of what they are already doing, for others, it will be the introduction of new ways of doing business.

“It’s an opportunity for a reset and in many ways, this could not come at a better time,” says Mackie. “We’re trying to implement a sustainable safety management plan for the University so that we’re not only meeting the legislative requirements but exceeding the requirements.”

Mackie says the community will be better off once the new measures are in place.

“The standards that we want to achieve will benefit the entire campus.”