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July 6, 1999

Pitt's health & safety program recognized

Pitt's health & safety program recognized

The University has one of the country's best health, safety and environmental programs, according to the National Safety Council's Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Division.

The National Safety Council (NSC) will present Pitt's Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) its highest endorsement — the Award of Honor — in the complete safety program category at the International Conference on Campus Safety, July 11-14.

"The complete safety program recognizes the University's successful creation of a comprehensive, prioritized safety program that addresses the complex challenges inherent in a large research institution," said Jane W. Thompson, associate vice chancellor for planning and analysis at Pitt.

The NSC examined 10 areas including accident incident rate, reporting structures, emergencies, placement and training, safe conditions and engineering revisions, and environmental health and safety. Pitt's EHS department scored 95 out of a possible 100 in the program evaluation.

The EHS department is responsible for safety measures ranging from conducting fire safety day for students, to creating safety protocols, to training faculty and lab workers in the use of hazardous materials, according to department director Larry Keller.

Keller said most of the other colleges in the competition have three to four times more staff than Pitt. "Plus, we're responsible for all of the regional campuses, the Allegheny Observatory, UPARC and the Pymatuning Laboratory," he said.

According to Keller, the department has saved the University money by better management of hazardous waste disposal, including recycling the waste through programs that use waste for fuel.

"When we started, the University spent $1.5 million a year on hazardous waste disposal," said Keller. "Now, we're spending between $200-300,000 a year, while handling a greater volume."

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