Mason Restructures Environmental Health and Safety Office

Posted: November 5, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

As Mason continues to expand in areas of research, teaching, community outreach and building construction, the university’s commitment to health and safety must keep pace. In an effort to enhance these services and provide one effective, streamlined safety function, several university offices have been merged to create the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office.

The offices affected were the Office of Laboratory Safety; elements of the University Safety Office; and the Occupational Health Office, formerly within the Office of Human Resources and Payroll.

As of Oct. 1, the new EHS Office includes Fire Safety, Laboratory Safety, Occupational Health, Environmental Compliance and Infrastructure Safety.

Julie Zobel
Julie Zobel
Photo courtesy of Julie Zobel

“In the past, we were duplicating our efforts through multiple offices. By combining these offices, we are creating a more effective method of handling health and safety issues at the university,” says Julie Zobel, executive director of EHS.

Currently, EHS supports each Mason campus by providing training, indoor air quality evaluations, exposure monitoring, maintenance of fire protection systems and fire safety inspections, hazardous waste handling services, guidance on hazardous materials management, assistance with personal protective equipment selection, safety equipment evaluations and facility plan review for new construction and renovations.

The various components and their responsibilities are

  • The Fire Safety Office, Patriot Square, Fairfax, offers training in areas such as fire extinguishers and is responsible for fire prevention inspections and overseeing the Mason Alert program.
  • The Laboratory Safety Office, David King Hall, Fairfax, and Occoquan Building, Prince William, offers training in areas such as radiation safety and is responsible for lab waste pick-up, consultation services for lab procedures and project reviews.
  • The Occupational Health Office, David King Hall, Fairfax, and Occoquan Building, Prince William, is responsible for services such as ergonomics, indoor air quality investigation and hearing and respiratory protection.
  • The Infrastructure Safety Office, Patriot Square, Fairfax, is responsible for services such as building inspections, hazardous waste programs and environmental compliance programs for the university.
  • The EHS Administration Office, David King Hall, Fairfax, and Occoquan Building, Prince William, is responsible for handling calls that come into the office.

The EHS team includes experienced experts who specialize in the fields of biological safety, chemical safety, radiation safety, occupational health, industrial hygiene and fire safety.

The EHS staff is responsible for interpreting regulations and putting tools in place that promote health and safety in the workplace and facilitate regulatory compliance. According to Zobel, EHS believes that education and effective communication are the cornerstones of a comprehensive EHS program.

The office offers various training sessions, some of which are required and others that are helpful when dealing with specific hazards arising in areas such as HIV research, transportation of hazardous materials, emergency response and proper use of safety equipment.

In addition, departmental lab safety liaisons and building coordinators have been appointed as additional contacts for each department and building so that environmental, health and safety concerns are identified and resolved in a timely and efficient manner. EHS staff members make routine visits to Mason facilities to address specific concerns or questions raised during the visit.

For answers to questions regarding environmental health and safety, contact the EHS Office at 703-993-8448.

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