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The issue of safety is a concern for employees everywhere, and in an effort to improve working conditions and practices at Old Dominion, the university has formed its first Safety Committee.

Responsible for making recommendations for corrective measures and program changes to reduce or prevent workplace accidents and injuries, as well as illnesses, the 15-member group will serve as an advisory committee to Robert Fenning, vice president for administration and finance.

An equal number of staff and management representatives from both the administrative and academic areas are represented on the committee.

"We looked for employees who have genuine commitment and concern for safety, and are proactive as well as innovative," said Rachel DeMunda, director of the university's Office of Environmental Health and Safety, who coordinated the formation of the committee. Douglas Alexander, the office's safety engineer, serves as committee chair.

Two years ago, the commonwealth of Virginia adopted Executive Order 52, the Workplace Safety and Health Initiative, which required state agencies to develop initiatives to improve safety and reduce employee injuries and illnesses. In response to this, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety staff developed a Workplace Safety Program for the university, the components of which include hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, investigation of accidents, and training and information, Alexander explained. Another component of the program called for the creation of a safety committee.

The committee was formed in December, and members will serve a one-year term through the end of this year. They will meet on a quarterly basis, or more often as needed.

"I can't stress enough the importance of providing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for our employees," said DeMunda. "It only takes one fatality or serious injury to severely impact an organization."

The majority of workplace injuries that occur are preventable, she added, but when they do occur, they can result in high costs and negative public relations, as well as have an enormous emotional and social impact on affected employees.

Said Alexander, "It is my hope that the committee will enhance communication of safety-related issues throughout the campus community and eventually take strides toward establishing a culture of safety at Old Dominion."

DeMunda added, "Convincing Bob Fenning to establish a safety committee was easy because he is very conscientious about occupational safety and health issues. He understands that every dollar spent on proactive safety may return hundreds back. He is equally concerned about saving lives and making this campus a safe and healthy place to work."

Employees or students who wish to inform the committee about any safety concerns should contact Alexander at 683-4495 or dalexand@odu.edu.
Joining Alexander on the committee are:

-Ken Blow, director, Office of Risk Management;

-James English, assistant professor of medical laboratory and radiation sciences;

-Alicia Herr, stockroom manager, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry;

-Angela Hollis, front desk manager, Housing Services;

-J.C. Johnson, superintendent, Custodial Services;

-Tom Longo, assistant director, Office of Public Safety;

-David Marlett, assistant professor of finance;

-Carole Ray, administrative assistant, Perry Library;

-Jerry Robertson, director of the Technology Applications Center;

-Marcha Schriver, benefits manager, Human Resources Department;

-David Thomas, housekeeping supervisor, Custodial Services;

-Charlene Turner, human resources coordinator, Research Foundation;

-Jody Wolford-Tucker, associate director of the Women's Center and SAFE coordinator; and

-Dwayne Young, buyer, Office of Materiel Management.

Patricia Garcia, administrative assistant in the environmental health and safety office, serves as Safety Committee secretary.

This article was posted on: March 15, 2002

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Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.