Awards and recognition

Safe and Sound: MSL Local Safety Team receives UBC recognition


Safety is no joke at the Michael Smith Laboratories (MSL). The MSL Local Safety Team (LST) is a great group that has continuously elevated the safety program in their unit year-over-year, to a level where the culture around safety is now met with support and respect by their faculty, staff, and students. This year, the MSL LST received the Innovative Safety Leadership award, recognizing the group’s creative approach for addressing safety issues at UBC. This award was handed out by Andrew Szeri, Provost and Vice-President Academic for UBC Vancouver, at the largest Safety Day ever held at UBC. Safety Day is a one-day educational and recognition event that celebrates Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (JOHSC) and LST members from across UBC.

Some examples of the MSL LST’s creative approaches for addressing safety issues are:

1) The MSL LST carried out a hugely successful Shakeout event last fall where labs were encouraged to get into their safe-position and take a selfie photo either individually or as a group; extra points where given if the Faculty member participated. Through education and positive promotion of the event, the results were overwhelming with 13 labs and units taking part, including 93 people in pictures!

2) Last year, the handling of plant biohazardous and non-biohazardous waste disposal came into question for one of their research labs. Immediately they realized that the practices in place were not consistent across labs within and outside their department, so they took this to Risk Management Services (RMS) to come up with a unified process for all departments on campus with similar waste generation. Many months later, a protocol for the campus was developed. Led by RMS, the protocol sought input from the users, the departments involved, and waste management to find a solution that met all parties involved. 

3) In the past, annual fire drills were few and far between because of barriers with other users in the same buildings. Over several years, the MSL has taken leadership in coordinating the nuisances around scheduling an annual fire drill between everyone involved. After a few years of not-so-perfect drills, this year they successfully evacuated 2 buildings, 4 units and over 600 people in 3 minutes with the all-clear after 5 minutes. Even the Fire Department was impressed!

4) Lastly, the MSL LST embarked on a multi-month project to create and implement a eye-wear protection guideline for the department.  This was proposed originally by a Faculty member and worked on by an LST sub-committee. After many rounds of edits and input from the stakeholders and RMS, the guidelines were rolled out with the on-boarding of new students just this fall. In order to ensure that these best practices were positively received, the LST sends around emails letting the department know when a spot-check will take place so there are no surprises. For the most part, these best practices are welcomed and adopted. Change takes time, but needs to start somewhere.

Not all were available to attend the award ceremony, here’s a list of members who have contributed to the safety program over the last year:

Local safety team co-chairs

Dan Fayant (MSL Admin) and Karen Reid (MSL Admin)

Lab representatives

Angela Chiang (Bohlmann lab), Carmen de Hoog (Hansen lab), Cheryl Pfeifer (Jefferies lab), Chris Sherwood (Piret lab), Christian Kastrup (Faculty representative), Christina Wiesmann (Haney lab), Eleonore Rayner (Kastrup lab), Emily Kwan (Withers lab), Gloria Yang (Tokuriki lab), Guanggan Hu (Kronstad lab), Jacob Wardman (Withers lab), Jennifer Bui (Gsponer lab), Jenny Moon (Foster lab), Karen Jones (Snutch lab), Lijuan Sun (Teaching lab), Lisa Thorson (Finlay lab), Louise Creagh (Haynes lab), Michele Moksa (Hirst lab), Shaheen Shojania (Brumer lab), Shaima Kammoonah (Mayor lab), Sanja Rogic (Pavlidis lab), Tejo Singh (Hieter lab), and Zhongshou Wu (Li Lab).

Congratulations to all MSL LST members, and thank you for setting an example for other departments on campus!