Promote Culture of Safety at UW

February 13, 2012

By Nancy Fox
UW Environmental Health and Safety Director

The No. 1 resource at the University of Wyoming, a premier teaching and research institution, is its people. Protecting that resource through a positive safety culture should be the goal of everyone associated with the university.

A positive safety culture emphasizes safety over competing goals as core values and behaviors by leaders and individuals as a collective commitment, thereby ensuring protection of people and the environment. At UW, this means safety needs to be valued and acted upon at all levels of our organization (administrators, faculty, supervisors, individual employees and students), with each of us taking the initiative to use proper precautions.

Universities have a variety of work environments, including offices, laboratories, shops and outdoor field locations. No matter where we work, study or conduct research, putting safety first is essential 

With significant media attention on workplace safety in Wyoming, it is worthwhile to note UW's commitment to the issue, and remind the university community that a positive safety culture depends upon everyone.

In November 2011, the UW Board of Trustees updated Section L (Safety) of UW Regulation 4-2, Employment Provisions Applicable to All Personnel. This section emphasizes that safety is the responsibility of every employee and that "each employee shall conduct their activities in compliance with applicable governmental, university and campus unit safety and health policies, procedures and regulations. This includes abiding by safety rules, participating in safety training as required and reporting hazards and potential violations."

Any employee who believes there is a safety problem in his or her work environment, or elsewhere at the university, is obligated to bring the problem to the attention of the immediate supervisor, the Environmental Health and Safety Department, or the Department of Risk Management and Insurance, as appropriate.

UniReg 4-2 also outlines the primary responsibilities of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and Risk Management and Insurance (RMI), which were separated into two distinct departments in 2008. The EHS director is charged with "the planning and implementation of actions to meet the requirements of all applicable state and federal environmental health and safety legislation, and all associated rules and regulations." The director of RMI has primary responsibility for "the University's insurance and for protecting the University from liability."

EHS offers a variety of services that promote a positive safety culture and compliance with safety and environmental regulations. These services include training, consultation, job/project hazard assessment tools, hazardous and biological waste management, audits and inspections. For more information, please contact EHS at 766-3277, or go to the EHS website,\ehs.

One EHS program that promotes a positive safety culture is the Safety Coordinator Program, with more than 80 designated safety coordinators across the University. EHS offers two in-services and orientations per year for safety coordinators  (

This commitment to safety needs to permeate throughout the university. Each and every one of us must be alert and make safe decisions in daily activities. These decisions can be as simple as choosing to wear a seat belt; don proper footwear for ice conditions; perform lab experiments using proper safety controls; or to correct or report a hazard.

Safety comes down to individual choices. As EHS director, I urge you to play an active role in promoting a positive safety culture at the University of Wyoming.

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