University to assist students in health and safety

Kaz Alvarez/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 19, 2013

The Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management has been operating, in some capacity or another, to create a safer campus for students, staff and faculty since the 1990s.

“Our focus on being safe goes across all of campus,” EHS&RM Director Frances Isgrigg said. The office provides various safety services to the UAF community such as a safety program for labs that includes basic training for students and proper hazard labeling.  EHS&RM is responsible for making safety information readily available to students, staff and faculty. All staff, faculty and student staff are required to pass a series of online safety trainings to ensure that they have been properly informed on the policies of the workplace as well as some of the hazards and risks.

“One thing that I have been working on this last year is working with student clubs or students planning a program and going over a risk assessment for their plans,” Swaim said.

When a student plans an event, they fill out an form with Facilities Services to release UAF of liability for the ever. Swaim is trying to ensure that these events are safe so that the students do not suffer under the liability.

Another service provided to UAF is data collection on risks and hazards around campus. According to data gathered by the EHS&RM, the leading cause of injury at UAF is slips, trips and falls in outside areas. In second place is lifting or handling objects. Slips, trips and falls inside buildings is in  third place.

To address this issue, EHS&RM is developing an existing program involving the distribution of cleats to the UAF community. This program began with an effort to distribute cleats to regular staff and student workers through a few tabling events at various campus areas. Now, the office website has an online form for bulk orders.

“We definitely felt that it was very important to open up the cleat program to students campus wide this year.” Risk Manager Billie Swaim said. “It’s been something that we’ve wanted to do for the last few years.”

In previous years, the office tabled around campus to distribute the cleats. Cleats can now be picked up from the office at 1855 Marika Road or requested as part of a bulk order from the office. The office will deliver the bulk orders to offices and professors. It is recommended that students consult a professor, advisor or RA about bulk orders for classes or dorm floors.

Director of Residence Life Laura McCollough, a member of the UAF Safety and Compliance and Coordination Advisory Committee, is attempting to build a safety culture among students before there is another mass distribution of cleats.

“We gave out a bunch of cleats last year and didn’t see anyone wearing them,” said Safety Officer Kim Knudsen.

“Is it cool to wear ice cleats? A slip, trip and a fall is the biggest issue on our campus,” McCollough  said. “But why are we not doing preventatives?”

“This year, we ordered cleats for all of our student employees to wear,” McCollough said, “We really want people to use them and we need to create that culture where people see that it’s appropriate and expected for you to wear cleats.”

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