(209a) Building a College-Wide Safety Culture: Opportunities and Challenges

Sacco, A. Jr., Texas t
Ziemer, K. S., Northeastern University

Texas Tech University’s Whitacre College of Engineering (WCOE) is building a safety culture among their students, faculty, and staff by approaching both the curriculum and the culture, with the work environment culture believed to be the most important in affecting change of behavior in both classrooms and laboratories.  WCOE has set a goal of ZERO safety incidents while setting the standard for University Laboratory Safety and Safety Awareness of all faculty, students, and staff.  Key strategies include incorporating alumni and industrial support (both in spirit and financial), increasing awareness of the university as a workplace and the opportunities and responsibilities to model safe behaviors and practices, approaching safety as a matter of pride for the school, and replacing many “punish bad safety practice if you see it” systems with self-assessment ownership and rewards for exemplary safety practice.  The program will be officially kicked-off in September of 2013.

The opportunities and challenges encountered in developing the WCOE program as well as the initial assessment of progress will be discussed.  In addition, a dean’s perspective on the unique leadership challenges will be shared.  It is hoped that the experiences discussed will convince others that the ABET requirements for Process Safety in the Chemical Engineering Curriculum provide opportunities beyond correcting a program criterion deficiency.  By thinking broader than ABET, chemical engineers and chemical engineering departments have the opportunity to lead their academic institutions toward producing higher quality engineering graduates at all levels, and increasing financial stability for academic institutions.