Board committee hears risk oversight review

HERSHEY, Pa. – To ensure that Penn State's approach to safety, public health and environmental protection is uniform, the University has multiple safety and administrative policies in place, and maintains a variety of training programs at campuses across the Commonwealth, according to Ford Stryker, associate vice president for the Office of Physical Plant.

The end result, Stryker said, is a safer learning and working environment for students, faculty and staff.

At its regular meeting today (March 6), the Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Finance, Business and Capital Planning heard a report focusing on the University's management of operational safety risks across all campus locations.

Stryker; Steve Shelow, assistant vice president for Police and Public Safety; and Gary Langsdale, University risk officer, reviewed with the committee the University’s efforts in planning for and managing risk in areas including safety, public health, environmental protection, public safety, emergency planning and insurance.

Safety, public health and environmental protection

Between 2009 and 2012, the number of injuries per 100 employees and the severity of injuries that occur at Penn State both are well below the Bureau of Labor Standards averages for other institutions of higher education, Stryker said.

Penn State’s training programs help to guide faculty, staff and students in their daily activities in numerous areas, including laboratory and research safety, environmental protection, hazardous materials management, facilities access control and more. The programs are led by four organizations staffed with experts who connect with an extensive network of partners to meet national standards, and federal and state regulations, on all Penn State campuses.

“Regulations, policies and programs are ineffective without training and enforcement. Effective training programs teach, motivate and sustain knowledge so that appropriate practices are integrated seamlessly into everything we do,” Stryker said. “Penn State’s networks of safety officers, facility coordinators, human resources representatives and campus directors of business services engaged throughout the University community are key to implementing programs.”

Public safety and emergency preparedness

Shelow reviewed with the committee the robust efforts of Penn State Police and Public Safety (P&PS) in the areas of public safety and emergency management. P&PS includes police and security at University Park and at the campuses; the Department of Emergency Management; behavioral threat assessment and management; Clery Act compliance; and physical security. In addition to strong partnerships with organizations internal to Penn State, Shelow said the University maintains numerous external partnerships at every level, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to the Pennsylvania State Police, to local police and county or regional emergency management agencies.

Penn State’s police and security presence includes 51 sworn police personnel at the University Park campus and another 70 at Penn State campuses outside of University Park. In addition, Penn State’s emergency management team is fully involved in emergency planning and preparedness with authorities at all campus locations, working to ensure that Penn State has plans in place to effectively respond to and recover when incidents disrupt operations.

“The men and women who work for Police and Public Safety are committed to protecting our University community by delivering professional services; through educational outreach; and by consistently and aggressively promoting the safety and security of all students, employees and visitors,” Shelow said.

Because Penn State campuses constantly welcome new students, faculty and staff, it is critical that the University maintain effective training programs that not only teach participants, but also motivate them to do their part in identifying, correcting and addressing gaps in public safety at all campuses.

“At all of our campuses, police and security personnel are involved in the regular delivery of meaningful public safety training or community education programs,” Shelow said.

Last year at the University Park campus, Shelow said 272 such programs were held involving more than 6,300 participants.

“We believe this is an integral part of our mission and reflects our overall commitment to guiding faculty, staff and students in topics such as self-defense, office safety and security, theft and prevention.”

Shelow said that, from 2011-12 to 2012-13, the University as a whole has experienced declines in calls to police; the number of calls determined to be criminal in nature; the number of arrests and the number of cases in which charges were filed, among others.

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Last Updated March 06, 2014