The Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) recently recognized William & Mary with a pair of awards.
The university’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety is involved in both awards, being a nominator for one and a nominator and recipient of another.
“I usually say that the Environmental Health and Safety Office is the EPA, the OSHA and the Public Health Department for William & Mary,” Sandra Prior explained. “All the regulatory things, but we also are a training center for CPR and first aid.”
It’s a tough job and Prior says it would be a great deal tougher without the intelligent, engaged support her office receives from Dennis Manos, the university’s vice provost for research. For his support of the EHS office, Manos was recognized as a “Campus Leader Who Cares” by CSHEMA, the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association. CSHEMA is a professional organization of campus safety personnel in the higher education and research communities.
Prior is the director of William & Mary’s EHS office. She said she nominated Manos for the CSHEMA award to recognize his support of her office’s efforts to improve both policy-and-procedure initiatives as well as for the many and varied individual instances in which small-to-moderate sums are required for equipment or training to make William & Mary an even safer scientific community.
Manos says that he is grateful for the honor, but insists that all credit belongs to Prior and her staff, Environment, Health & Safety Specialist Corinta Harris and Fire Safety Officer Brad Meirs.
“Sandra struggles in a very difficult environment. Her contribution to safety isn’t always recognized, and she struggles with very difficult circumstances,” Manos said. “If she does her job absolutely perfectly, day after day, endlessly — no one will ever notice.”
In turn, Prior cites Manos’ support for numerous safety initiatives in her letter nominating him for the Campus Leaders Who Care Award. She said Manos has been willing to chip in when a lab needs some piece of equipment and her own slim budget won’t stand the strain.
Prior’s nomination letter says that Manos’ willingness “to make the ‘hard’ decisions in favor of safety” has been valuable as well. The partnership between Manos and Prior’s office is evidenced by a set of teaching and research labs that run largely without incident.
“We’ve had some things happen that make us pay closer attention, but we’ve not had anyone seriously hurt,” Prior said. “I attribute that to being incredibly lucky or having incredibly good people. And I think it’s a combination.”
Shortly after receiving notification that Manos had won the Campus Leaders Who Care Award, Prior learned that her office had received a second honor from CSHEMA. EHS won an a marketing award for single use of media, given to a single piece of marketing media (poster, video, photo, etc.) targeted to any specific area of occupational safety and health on an academic campus.
The item that won the award was a keychain, a brainchild of Harris. Harris explained that she wanted an item to replace the stuffed fire safety dogs, popular promotional items that Meirs used to reinforce staff training.
“I wanted something that would exemplify safety as a whole — laboratory safety, industrial safety —and not just fire safety,” Harris said. She sat down and designed a keychain with a fob reading, “You are the key to safety.”
There was a surprise when EHS took delivery of the items: “When the first batch came in they were much bigger than we anticipated,” Harris said.
Prior had an inspiration of her own. The key fobs might be a little big for some people to use as keychains, but she saw that they were just a nice size for Christmas ornaments.
She took a bunch of the keychains to the main facilities buildings, where there were large poinsettia plants on hand for the holidays. She went after hours, hanging the keychains like ornaments. She added a sign, inviting people to take a keychain/ornament to decorate their own tree.
It was a popular move, so Prior went on to decorate a number of yuletide greenery with the ornaments.
“We got the word out about safety,” Prior said. “A lot of people didn’t get one, so they asked me for one, to take home and put on their own Christmas tree. Getting the key chains into the homes was a great way to promote safety in the home as well because safety doesn't stop at the end of the work day. ”
She said that some people like the large fobs for their original intended use — as keychains. But when it became time to reorder, EHS opted for a smaller version, but one that’s still big enough to use as an ornament.CSHEMA presented the awards at its 63rd annual conference in Austin on July 24.