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 January 7, 2000 Volume 7, Number 8


About OCN

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from HRD

Letters to
the Editor




Major environment & safety effort under way

A major effort is under way to raise the environmental and safety consciousness of the U of S and all of its employees.

Health, Safety and Environment Department Director Sunil Choubal says that in light of increasing government regulation and higher societal expectations, his unit is leading a broad initiative to help the University and its staff do a better job of upholding standards on campus.

Sunil Choubal

The foundation for the initiative was laid in May, 1998 when the Board of Governors approved an overview Choubal presented on what needed to be done.

The plan notes increasing legal and government regulation of safety and environmental standards, and calls for the integration of better goals for staff performance into everyone’s job descriptions.

Choubal says one aim is to include safety and environment criteria into people’s job performance reviews.

And, he says, "We will develop a Health, Safety and Environment Plan, with a manual to help staff and faculty, to make it easier for them to carry out their responsibility." A prototype manual is still four or five months away, he adds.

Such a manual could include checklists and templates, to help staff refer to regulations they need to know in their jobs.

But Choubal and Environmental Manager Jamie Gates both stress HS&E’s aim is not to be a watchdog agency, policing staff compliance.

Rather, it’s to help foster a sense of "internal personal responsibility" for safety and environmental concerns within each employee.

"The University belongs to the people of Saskatchewan, and we have a responsibility to society to show leadership, especially in the protection of the environment," Choubal says.

"The broader, nobler reason is that it’s the right thing to do. The legislation is there, but I’d like to see us do it because it’s our duty and responsibility," he adds.

Gates has a similar view: "We’re here to change the hearts and minds of people."

Another major part of the current push for more attention to safety and environment is a survey, sanctioned by Pres. Peter MacKinnon, aimed at identifying people on campus with professional or personal interests and skills in environmental issues.

These people may sit on a planned President’s Environmental Committee, or may be able to help in other capacities in a planned overall Environmental Management System on campus.

Gates says this survey and inventory of resource people is "pretty well wrapping up" – and results will be compiled in early January.

Choubal and Gates say the larger aim of this new emphasis on a planned approach to health, safety and environment is the protection of the University’s employees, students, and visitors.

In an era of tighter external regulations and the increasing use of new technologies and materials, they say this is a challenge that requires a more concerted effort by everyone.

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