“Excellence in Safety” Award Winners - 2019

On May 22, the University Laboratory Safety Committee (ULSC) at The Ohio State University recognized the third annual recipients of the “Excellence in Safety” Award.  The award recognizes three categories of those who have made a considerable contribution to improving laboratory safety on the Ohio State campus: a university faculty or staff member (Staff Award), an undergraduate or graduate student (Student Award) and a laboratory research group (Group Award). Such contributions can be defined as but are not limited to actions taken to prevent injury or illness, outstanding response and cooperation given to resolve unsafe conditions, consistent improvement during laboratory inspections, or any other consistent and proactive demonstration of efforts in support of a positive laboratory safety culture.

Award winners were congratulated by ULSC Vice Chair Kent McGuire, Senior Associate Vice President for Research Dr. Jan Weisenberger, and Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer Gates Garrity-Rokous.

Congratulations to all of the 2019 award winners! Thank you for making The Ohio State University a safe working and learning environment for everyone!

Staff Award - Jim Lawson, the Assistant Director, Aerospace Research Center (ARC), College of Engineering, oversees a complex, high-end collection of laboratories that deal with many hazards, including high-pressure air, lasers, chemicals, combustion, and high-speed rotating machinery.  He has identified several key investments to improve safety, including funding for better electrical safety, formation of a safety committee for ARC, and facilitating the development of Standard Operation Procedures for complex or hazardous operations.  Jim is a strong mentor for other staff and students and has brought a positive, transformative change to the safety culture of the laboratories at ARC.

Student Award - Angie Huggins Gonzalez, a graduate student in the Fontana Corrosion Center, College of Engineering, is a role model for safety.  She has created experimental approval and information forms, instituted “Safety Moments” at weekly group meetings, implements a rigorous safety training policy, arranged for fire extinguisher training, improved the Corrosion Center’s chemical waste disposal program, implemented the use of a new application (Plinius) to automate inspections, conducts lab clean-up sessions, and has taken the lead in communicating with Environmental Health and Safety regarding safety inspections.  Angie has been both extremely active and creative in promoting safety in the context of a large research group.

Group Award - The Plant and Animal Agrosecurity Facility at the Wooster Campus, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is a team of individuals consisting of an Administrative Group (Dr. Juliette Hanson, Kaitlynn Starr, Alden Sewell, Willie Coblentz) and a Research Group (Dr. Chang Won Lee, John Ngunjiri, Michael Abundo).  This team developed high-level safety plans and standard operating procedures to achieve USDA certification to operate as a select agent facility, only one of three BSL-3 Ag facilities in the country.  The group has established a culture of safety encompassing biosafety, biosecurity, and biocontainment.  The diverse group of animal and plant health, research, facility operations, IT security, and safety specialists works as a team to develop and validate safety protocols for building operations, personnel operating procedures, and biosecurity protocols to conform to select agent regulations.