How long have you worked at the U of L?
I joined the University on June 21, 2005 as an Occupational Health & Safety Officer. I was tasked with developing a lab safety program for the University and also assumed the role of institutional Radiation Safety Officer (RSO). As the University grew in size and complexity, so did the need for management of health and safety. In 2012, I assumed the role of Manager, Safety. During my 15 years with the University, my work has always been interesting and I value the learning opportunities it provides.
What are your main duties?
My main duties are management and direction of the University’s safety programs, including development and implementation of the Environment, Health & Safety Management System (EHSMS). I am supported by a fantastic team of three staff in Safety Services and we work together with the larger Campus Safety department that includes Security Services, Emergency Management, and Insurance & Risk Services. Our team administers various safety programs such as occupational health, contractor safety, research safety (lab and field activities), radiation safety, biosafety, first aid, and general health and safety initiatives. We provide guidance and educational services that support a safe and healthy environment for research, work and study.
How have those duties changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
My day-to-day duties were largely put on hold in order to focus on managing health and safety concerns specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to develop new training and procedures to help safely navigate our way through this. Continual assessment is required and as new challenges arise, we are called upon to respond. I anticipate that this will be the case for quite some time.
What is one thing you’ve learned from this situation?
I have learned many things, but one of the most important is how reliant we are on things beyond our control and that there is so much we take for granted every single day. This situation highlights how important it is to be prepared for emergencies and how any ‘unplanned event’ can have a huge impact to our operations at every level. The University’s COVID-19 response exemplified that I am fortunate to work with a lot of very talented, resourceful and dedicated individuals who did an amazing job of pulling together to manage this in a very short period of time while doing their very best to keep everyone safe and healthy in spite of the challenges.