University of Calgary

Safety key to success

UToday HomeDecember 5, 2012

PhD candidate Ben Feist believes that education and awareness are key to a safe environment. Photo by Riley BrandtPhD candidate Ben Feist believes that education and awareness are key to a safe environment. Photo by Riley BrandtFor Benjamin Feist, PhD candidate in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, maintaining a safe laboratory environment for himself and his colleagues is something that’s critical to job success.

Feist knows that safety can be as simple as utilizing the proper lab safety gear, or as complex as designing standard operating and emergency shutdown procedures to make experiments safer. Regardless of complexity, Feist believes that education and awareness are key to a safe work environment.

“Whenever there’s a new experiment or a big change, it’s important that all lab personnel are familiar with any safety-related concerns and their potential to affect others,” says Feist. “Part of developing good lab safety practices is being aware of what everyone else is doing.”

Recently, Feist and his research lab colleagues attended a hazard assessment workshop, which is a campus wide safety initiative being promoted by Environment, Health and Safety for all faculty and staff. The team decided to attend the workshop together as a way to involve everyone in the assessment process. Feist is also a member of the Safety Improvement Team at Schulich School of Engineering.

“I feel it’s important that all personnel working in a lab attend a hazard assessment workshop,” says Feist. “Sending one person isn’t enough, since it’s the combined effort of all team members that creates a culture of safety in the lab.”

So, what does Feist think of the university’s drive to become the only post-secondary in Canada to achieve a Certificate of Recognition (COR) at the institutional level by passing an external audit scheduled for November 2013.

“I think it would be a big bonus for students graduating from this university,” says Feist. “The university’s reputation as a leader in safety will really impact me as a graduate, and that distinction would be very beneficial to me as I’m trying to distinguish myself from others in the marketplace.”