Take Time Now to Put Your Safety Program in Order

by Mark Freiberg

National Safety Week is June 2 through 8, providing an excellent opportunity for campus departments to re-evaluate their safety programs.

Coming at the end of the academic calendar when most of the students have left, the week is a good time for department managers and safety committees to review the past year's injuries and implement changes to prevent reoccurrence.

"The safety of our faculty and staff is extremely important at Berkeley. Each department must maintain an effective workplace safety program so that every member of the campus community is able to continue contributing to our goals," said Chancellor Tien.

What can a department do to enhance its safety program? Reinvigorating its safety committee may be the best place to start.

By campus policy, each department is to have an ongoing safety committee with representatives from various sections of the department (small, similar departments may have joint safety committees). Bringing new life to a safety committee can often be accomplished by rotating the committee's membership or by introducing new topics for regular discussion.

The committee should ensure that the department has a complete written Injury and Illness Prevention Program, as required by Cal/OSHA. This program establishes the department's basic safety structure, including the composition of the safety committee and its meetings (it must meet quarterly and record its minutes) and the procedures for reporting hazards, investigating accidents, correcting unsafe conditions and providing training.

Campus departments that have not yet developed their program should call the Office of Environment, Health and Safety for assistance at 642-3073. EH&S is developing a template that departments can use as a foundation for building a program that complies with the law and also addresses their unique needs.

Department safety programs can also be improved by the development of a written training schedule for all employees on the various hazards they may face. In particular, the law requires training on the department's Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

EH&S offers training on chemical and physical hazards. Training on ergonomic hazards is available through University Health Services.

Other ways of enhancing a department's safety program include conducting periodic workplace inspections, establishing safety award programs, or holding a safety fair.

Safety fairs have been used by some departments to introduce faculty and staff to safety resources both within and outside the department. Representatives from EH&S, University Health Services, campus police and other organizations are available to hold workshops or discussions within campus departments.

For other ideas on improving your department's safety program, contact EH&S or explore their new web site at www.ehs.berkeley.edu. Don't let National Safety Week "accidentally" slip by.

Mark Freiberg is manager of health and safety programs at Environment, Health and Safety.

What Should a Safety Committee Discuss?

By law, safety committees must at least:

* Review the results of periodic, scheduled workplace inspections. These may be performed by the committee or by others.

* Review recent accidents and investigate reports of hazardous conditions; establish or review preventive measures and any correction deadlines.

* Provide recommendations to management based on employee safety suggestions or concerns.

* Where appropriate, conduct an independent inspection or investigation.

Other activities that a safety committee can perform include:

* Tracking and/or coordinating corrective actions related to identified hazards.

* Establishing new systems to communicate safety issues, such as fliers or suggestion boxes.

* Establishing an incentive program for safety-conscious staff

* Arranging for guest speakers on safety issues. Speakers are available from EH&S, UHS, UCPD and other departments.


Copyright 1996, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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