Academic Safety Culture Initiative
In recent years, high profile accidents involving students and staff at other universities have resulted in serious injuries and death, civil and criminal liability, operational disruptions and loss of research.
In recognition of the need for a more comprehensive approach to campus safety, the Association of Public & Land Grant Universities (APLU) published “A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in our Universities”. This guide draws on academic safety reports from research leaders such as the National Research Council and the American Chemical Society to create an actionable plan for strengthening safety cultures in higher education settings.
In this publication, the APLU Chairs call on every institution within the APLU to renew their commitment to improve safety culture in academic research, scholarship, and teaching. They present four core institutional values as being central to a culture of safety:
- Safety is everyone’s responsibility
- Good science is safe science
- Safety training and safety education are essential elements of research and education
- An improved culture of safety is necessary to truly reduce risk
APLU’s report provides a detailed set of “Actions that Support a Culture of Safety” as an implementation framework for Universities. Using this peer-tested approach, NAU intends to be at the vanguard of renewing and promoting a culture of safety in all of our working and learning environments, including laboratories, classrooms, performing arts spaces, studios, and field sites.
In the coming months, faculty and staff will see the following implementation initiatives:
- A policy statement from President Cheng communicating a public commitment to academic safety culture;
- The formation of a University Safety Committee charged with developing an implementation plan specific to NAU’s values and institutional needs;
- Committee outreach to faculty and staff in order to gather feedback and embed safety education throughout the campus;
- An open dialogue with campus stakeholders to identify elements of the APLU framework that can be incorporated into existing safety policies, procedures, and systems;
- Creation of supportive web content and resources designed to effectively strengthen NAU’s culture of safety; and
- Committee coordination with NAU leadership to identify the resources necessary for implementation and to clearly articulate the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders.
As safety is everyone’s responsibility, broad participation in this implementation will be welcome. It will be the practice of the University Safety Committee to foster culture of dialogue on safety issues, reporting on near misses, and sharing of safety best practices. The entire NAU community will benefit from the implementation of a shared vision of academic safety culture in an environment that is supportive of high-level learning, teaching and research.