Media
01/23/14

How EHS Managers' Roles Are Expanding

WHAT ARE THE MAIN GOALS OF AN EHS MANAGER?

"Our job here at Colorado State University is to back the mission of the university by assuring compliance with environmental regulations, ensuring campus safety, and protecting the environment. As EHS managers, we are the liaison between the school and the regulatory agencies.  If the state or federal government needs to talk to anybody on campus about environmental or safety issues, they come to us first. "
 

HOW ARE THE ROLES OF EHS MANAGERS CHANGING?

"I’ve been working here for about three years now, and I was hired as the Haz-Waste manager. I dealt primarily with hazardous waste pickups. My role has expanded to include the explosives safety team and controlled substances. I also help run a program that deals with the Department of Homeland Security's list of 326 chemicals of interest.

"The list was implemented in 2007. It requires us to go through our inventory of chemicals and report the quantities for 326 chemicals of interest that we are storing. Their concerns are to identify instances of theft, sabotage or diversion. We are required to submit top-screen surveys. It’s a lot of work to take inventory of those 326 chemicals across the entire university. We have an active inventory system that alerts us if we go over the threshold of the amount of chemicals allowed on campus, so we can report it and make any necessary security changes.

"I’m also part of the explosives team. There are three of us on the team. When we have to identify unstable chemicals, we actually detonate them under an emergency permit from the state."


INCREASED WASTE GENERATION

"This past summer we went in and actually completed a pilot inventory in our labs. We physically touched and tagged all the bottles of chemicals. We project that if we were to do something like that campus wide we would probably have a 10-12% increase in our hazardous waste volume. Veolia can handle any increase in volume we might have.

"The big problem we're running into is gas cylinders. Historically, people don’t like getting rid of them, so they sit around in the corner. Then, 25, 30, 40 years later, I come in and ask why we don’t just get rid of them. That’s a big issue, and an expensive issue, too. Veolia has been handling any type of weird cylinders that we give them."


CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

"One of the ways we reduce the amount of chemicals we dispose of is through our surplus chemicals list. Here on campus, to register your lab under the program, you have to take a two-hour training course to become a trained hazardous waste generator. One of the benefits of taking the course is you’ll have access to our list of surplus chemicals. People can go online and request a surplus chemical, and we deliver it to them. A lot of people are aware of the program, so they call us when they have some sort of unopened chemical, and say 'this one might be good to put in the surplus chemical program'. Or, as we’re cleaning out labs, we'll find something useful, and we'll add it to the list to see if anybody takes it.
 
"We have had donations from larger companies that were closing, things like hydrochloric acid and acetic acid. We make those chemicals available to the campus, and deliver them if somebody needs them. We prefer to accept unopened, sealed containers, but some people will actually say 'let me know if you come across a certain chemical, it doesn’t matter if it’s opened or unopened.' We do it that way too. If someone wants a certain chemical, I keep an eye out for it.
 
"We also work with local high schools when they need cleaning supplies. When we have a surplus of these non-hazardous chemicals, we donate them to the school district. If it looks like it can be a usable item to somebody, I’m going to investigate it.
 
"A similar initiative we've started is our surplus electronics program. They’re not donated, but anybody—school districts, the public, anybody really—can come in and buy used electronics at low prices. Sometimes we have flat screen TVs or laptops. It’s open to the public and keeps these items out of the waste stream.
 

"What impresses me about Veolia is the education level, from the field reps up to the field managers.  What's also impressive is the retention.  I think the plant manager has been there for 20 something years.  It was his first job, and now he's a plant manager.  That says a lot about a company."

SAFETY TRAINING

"We’re making a big effort on safety training. The State of Colorado is a federal OSHA state, which means we’re exempt. For many years there has been a mandate within the state to follow the OSHA regulations as closely as possible. A big push in our department is for safety. We're creating a chemical hygiene plan and a chemical safety program. We also have an accredited course in general lab safety. It's a great collaboration between our department, the facilities department, and our environmental health department.

"It's getting to the point, though, where we need to think about a partnership with a private sector company to take advantage of their capabilities regarding training and teaching. We need to draw on the experience of people who work with these chemicals every day, and we're in talks with Veolia right now to make it happen.

“What impresses me about Veolia is the education level, from the field reps up to the field managers. What’s also impressive is the retention. I think the plant manager has been there for 20 something years. It was his first job, and now he’s a plant manager. That says a lot about a company.”
 

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