When you put on a lab coat on entering a lab, it not only provides protection, it reminds you that you are in an environment where you have to behave differently.
This comment, made by one of my microbiology lecturers at the University of Reading some 40 years ago, succinctly demonstrates the attitude to safety that we all must adopt as part of the EveryDaySafe programme that will be overseen by the new Safety Executive Group (SEG), which I shall be co-chairing with the Registrar.
The comprehensive review undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for the University demonstrated that the University community has much work to do. While we are a world leading institution in so many ways, our health and safety culture is, to be frank, not at this level. Effective action by all of us is both essential and urgent. We have responsibilities to ourselves, to each other, and to the wider community and environment. We have to be aware of the risks that we face and generate during our work and to mitigate these risks effectively. We must also be confident that we meet our compliance responsibilities, including those overseen by the HSE themselves.
It is my passionate belief the University should aspire to be the best at everything it does, and, over the coming period, I shall be working with you all to ensure that we attain the same level of excellence in our safely culture as we have attained elsewhere. This need not be onerous or difficult and if we get it right it will also enhance our performance in teaching, research, and the University’s wider contributions to society.
While this can only be achieved by everyone working together and making action-oriented safety their everyday priority, we are putting in place more support to enable this to happen. Led by the SEG there will be clearer leadership, more training, improved reporting and systems, better access to expertise, and more effective communication.
Share your ideas and questions
As a microbiologist, I have spent much of my career working with activities that are high risk and I have had first-hand experience of the challenges that establishing and maintaining a good safety culture entails.
I also know how important it is to listen to those doing the work and I plan to spend as much time as possible listening to colleagues around the University – your ideas are invaluable for us to improve our safety culture and we need your active participation.
Register to attend the Open Forum
Please do come along to the Open Forum on 24 May to contribute to this essential new initiative. I look forward to working with you all.