|Descriptive Title of Proposal:||Ryerson University Departmental Safety Officer Program|
|Awarded||National prize - Risk Management|
|Person(s) Responsible for the Idea||
|Name of Institution||Ryerson University|
|Office Address||415 Yonge Street, 1802D
Toronto, Ontario M5B 2E7
|Telephone:||416-979-5000 ext. 553079|
|Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution)||Deborah Brown|
|Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution)||VP, Administration and Operations|
|Office Address||380 Victoria Street, Jorgenson Hall, 1312
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W7
|Telephone:||416-979-5000 ext. 5006|
In its continuing effort to embed safety into the culture and operation of every academic and non-academic unit on campus, Ryerson University’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) department implemented a university-wide system of Departmental Safety Officers (DSOs) and Departmental Safety Committees (DSCs).
This innovative program is distinctive in three primary ways: 1) while a handful of universities may have DSOs, the establishment of DSCs that include DSOs, a faculty lead, and a dedicated EHS manager is novel among Canadian universities; 2) collaboration between academic and non-academic (i.e. EHS, staff) partners toward the common goal of injury prevention has fueled deep engagement and customized safety programs across the university; and 3) safety practices grow out of the particular needs of each unit, which makes the DSO program inherently scalable and applicable to any university context in the country.
Structurally, each faculty, department, school, centre or zone at Ryerson designates a DSO who is knowledgeable about the ongoing operations of the unit, including potential hazards and required controls (refer to Attachment 1).
All 137 DSOs participate in the following training:
The DSO is the point of contact with the EHS team. The shared responsibility model of the program addresses each unit’s specific operating needs, managing risk in a collaborative manner among students, faculty, and staff. The model also creates a chain of accountability from the grassroots level up to the Dean (refer to Attachment 3). EHS Managers regularly update the Deans and Directors on safety issues and provide consultations and ongoing program reports quarterly. The Director, EHS and Risk Management delivers an annual progress report and safety action plans at Dean’s council meetings.
|Criteria||Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.|
The DSO program is scalable and applicable to any university, regardless of size or resources, because it adapts to the particular needs of each unit. There is also complete flexibility regarding implementation, as the model can be applied simultaneously across the university or be phased in starting with areas of highest risk. The DSO program’s shared responsibility model ensures collaboration between faculties, departments, senior management, the EHS team and faculty, staff and students consistent with the norms of university administrative cultures. In addition, this program will easily integrate into any existing EHS management system and is a complementary foundation for every institution’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy, which it must establish by law. The DSO program also supports compliance with legislative requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act by establishing an internal responsibility system for addressing health and safety matters. In particular, benefits of this program compatible with any university context include:
By building capacity for customized safety solutions, improving communication and enhancing the visibility of EHS issues, the DSO program has created a shared sense of responsibility for preventative health and safety measures. The program facilitates compliance and injury prevention because it is based on an internal system for managing health and safety. The model engages senior management and department chairs in addressing hazards via regular workplace inspection reports, and this visible engagement enhances workplace wellness, morale and productivity by making employee wellbeing an evident priority. Particular evidence of the program’s impact includes:
The quantitative impact of the initiative is evident through data illustrating the extent of training that has taken place and tangible changes in workplace operation and productivity. Most prominent among these metrics are the following:
Though some universities in Canada may have DSOs, next to none of them have DSCs. Additionally, the nature of interactions between the DSO, DSC and dedicated EHS manager within each unit is a unique feature. Compared to standard operating procedure in Canadian universities, this program’s embedded collaboration between academics and non-academics working towards the common goal of injury prevention is innovative. The program is also distinctive for its ability to address specific department needs, facilitate ownership, and support communication by creating a collaborative framework that is institution-wide but internally led. Compared to previous solutions, the partnership between a DSO, dedicated EHS Manager and Chair or Director of a particular unit, which is fostered by regular meetings, is a key innovation. Ultimately, the DSO program has led to shared accountability across the university. Each unit is now able to identify new and emerging safety risks and draw upon the engagement of senior leadership to create a customized, sustainable and robust system of integrated safety.