A Transformational Journey to Change a Culture

The major focus of any safety professional, department or organization is to protect the safety and health of the employees under their purview. Going home as healthy as they arrived is an ideal vision to adhere to when developing and sustaining a health and safety program. Prevention efforts, such as implementation of controls to mitigate risks from hazards, is a fundamental methodology to ensure employees remain safe. However, despite best efforts, accidents and injuries can and do happen. In some instances, these accidents and injuries are significant. Events such as these are often rare and, despite the unfavorable consequences that were realized, can serve as catalysts to effect positive change.

In January of 2010, a serious academic laboratory accident occurred at Texas Tech University (TTU). Following a rigorous internal assessment and acknowledging feedback from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), TTU began a noble and determined journey to change the safety climate at Texas Tech University from one of compliance to one of open communication, organizational learning and continuous improvement. Administration, faculty, staff, and students all pulled together to effect this positive change.

A decade later, the results are profound. The cultural change occurred not only in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry but throughout the entire university. Over the years, many have used the accident as an example of the consequences that could occur if academic laboratory safety is not practiced. However, there have been far fewer meaningful discussions of how an institution can change its safety culture in a positive manner. That is the real story – a story of a transformational vision and sustainable positive change.

SafetyStratus is proud to have shared in the transformational journey along with the wonderful partners at Texas Tech University. Jerry Franco, the Department Safety Officer (DSO) for Texas Tech University’s (TTU) Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, had this to say: “TTU Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) has been very active in rolling out a software program called SafetyStratus, which I highly recommend. I have been very impressed with this program and what it can do.” With the dedication and vigilance of university personnel like Jerry, SafetyStratus has provided an innovative technological tool to help ensure that every day there is a reminder and presence regarding safety. Together, as partners, we are more than the sum of our parts. We are joined in a common vision of saving lives and the environment by successfully integrating knowledgeable people, sustainable processes, and unparalleled technology.

To read the story in its entirety, please access the ACS Chemical Health & Safety magazine.

     Eighmy, T., Schovanec, L., Young, A., Martin, J., Casadonte, D.J., Jr. (2020) Ten Years After the Texas Tech Accident: Part I: A Historical Retrospective. ACS Chem. Health & Safety. 2020, 27(2), 105−11. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.chas.0c00027

     Eighmy, T., Schovanec, L., Mulcahy, M. B., Young, A., Pappas, D., Martin, J., Coats, H., Franco, J., Casadonte, D. J. (2020). Ten Years after the Texas Tech Accident. Part II: Changing Safety Cultures and the Current State of Academic Laboratory Safety at Texas Tech University. ACS Chemical Safety & Health. 2020, 27, 3, 150-159. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.chas.0c00047

AUTHOR BIO:-

Cary comes to the SafetyStratus team as the Vice President of Operations with almost 30 years of experience in several different industries. He began his career in the United States Navy’s nuclear power program. From there he transitioned into the public sector as an Environmental, Health & Safety Manager in the utility industry. After almost thirteen years, he transitioned into the construction sector as a Safety Director at a large, international construction company. Most recently he held the position of Manager of Professional Services at a safety software company, overseeing the customer success, implementation, and process consulting aspects of the services team.

At SafetyStratus, he is focused on helping achieve the company’s vision of “Saving lives and the environment by successfully integrating knowledgeable people, sustainable processes, and unparalleled technology”.

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