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K-State Today

June 1, 2015

Study analyzes campus perception of safety

Submitted by Steven Galitzer

As the school year comes to a close, it is a good time to step back and analyze our safety habits. As the acting director of the environmental health and safety department, I encourage faculty and staff to think about the safety culture of the university.

Last year, I initiated an in-house study on the perception of safety. A questionnaire was used to survey employees and students from the Manhattan campus, College of Veterinary Medicine and Salina campus to determine what they perceive as hazardous environments. Thirteen hazards were investigated:

  • electrical
  • tools and machinery
  • chemical, biological
  • psychological
  • vehicle use
  • radioactive materials
  • lasers/light sources
  • physical exertion
  • fire
  • natural disasters
  • hostile/violent individuals on campus
  • pedestrians

Nine of these hazards are environment-specific, generally associated with working in a laboratory. Survey respondents indicated a low potential exposure to these hazards and felt prepared to deal with them because of training, materials and supervisor support.

The other hazards are potentially hazardous to all of the K-State community and include fire, natural disasters, hostile individuals and pedestrians. Survey participants indicated lower preparedness ratings to handling these hazards.

Overall, the study suggested the university's safety environment is positive and effective for faculty, staff and students. The study recommended several actions be considered to improve the safety culture and environment at K-State.

  • Provide enhanced safety training and support for general hazards — fire, natural disaster, hostile individual and pedestrian.
  • Implement special efforts to make faculty aware of the safety issues with exposure to potential hazards related to tools/machinery and biological issues.
  • Enhance training in psychological and physical exertion hazards.
  • Enhance training in dealing with hazards associated with laboratories.

Since the study, the department of environmental health and safety has improved training for radiation safety, hazard communication, hazardous waste awareness and asbestos awareness. The department also is working on bringing additional training to campus to further enhance the safety environment.

I will continue to provide safety information to help the K-State community feel prepared for any type of potential hazard.