OSU advances commitment to workplace safety with new recommendations & initiatives

OSU’s Workplace Safety Culture Task Force has released an initial report and recommendations for improving employee safety and wellbeing. The task force presented their findings to OSU faculty and staff in February.

The Workplace Safety Culture Task Force was appointed in 2021 by Provost Edward Feser, Vice President for Finance and Administration Mike Green and Vice President for Research Irem Tumer. The task force was charged with evaluating OSU’s current workplace safety programs, researching best practices and programs for universities and presenting recommendations for cultivating a robust workplace safety culture at OSU.  

The task force presented a report of their findings at a webinar hosted by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety on February 8. The report included 11 recommendations for enhancing workplace safety. As of mid-April, the first recommendation – performing an employee safety perception survey – has already been completed and results are expected soon. Other recommendations include establishing a Safety Advisory Committee in each college, forming Student Led Safety Teams and creating a continuous improvement system to provide feedback and track trends.

In their report, the taskforce members discussed how accidents and injuries in the workplace are often the result of multiple failures across an entire system rather than a single person’s mistake or negligence. They emphasized the importance of organizational culture change and proactive problem-solving rather than focusing merely on technical compliance or individual errors.

“There has been a shift from focusing exclusively on check-the-box compliance towards the development of a strong safety culture,” the report stated, citing studies done in health care settings as an example. “A strong safety culture has been shown to be predictive of lower injury rates, lower workers’ comp claims, increased job satisfaction, and decreased turnover.”

In a letter to the OSU community dated January 23, Feser and OSU President Jayathi Murthy emphasized the university’s commitment to workplace safety and thanked faculty and staff for their efforts in creating a culture of safety at OSU.

“The safety of faculty, staff and students is a top university priority and contributes to excellence in teaching, research, and outreach and engagement,” they said. “OSU is committed to a culture of safety by offering programs that emphasize workplace safety, accident and injury prevention, and wellness.”

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