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Allocate a Portion of the Departmental Budget to Safety

Mon, 08/12/2013 - 7:45pm

The establishment of a separate accounting line for safety and health related purchases is essential. This allows you to clearly track monies expended for this purpose. It also reduces the likelihood that budget reductions in other areas will occur. The establishment of a separate accounting line for safety and health related purchases is essential. This allows you to clearly track monies expended for this purpose. It also reduces the likelihood that budget reductions in other areas will occur. In the budget planning process, staff members should be asked to contribute suggestions for ependitures needed to maintain safe operations and continue to improve the safety program.

When possible, managers and department heads should bear in their budgets the costs of accidents, injuries, and illnesses which occur to the people they supervise. This provides a greater accountability for health and safety. The direct allocation of HS&E costs to department budgets stimulates interest in the reduction of these expenses. Each department needs to establish a line item in its budget for safety. Requests for safety materials, equipment, references, facilities, etc. should not be part of other budget line items.

In doing this, two things happen. Safety grows in importance by being recognized as a separately funded aspect of the work. And, the funding of safety matters is less likely to be at the expense of other budget lines, i.e., the cost of safety goggles no longer has to come out of general supplies and expenses. Some universities have the unfortunate practice of requiring research supervisors to purchase safety equipment out of their research grant funds. This is fine if a professor has funding and has properly budgeted for the safety equipment. For less well-funded faculty members, the department in general needs to provide the necessary safety equipment. This same funding practice needs to be followed by institutions as well as individual departments. Once an institution has established a health and safety policy, it needs to establish an institutional line item to fund its Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs Program.

How does your institution budget for safety? Whenever the budget making process goes on, the question should be asked: "What are the safety and emergency supplies, equipment, and facilities that are needed to do this work in a safe, healthy, and environmentally sound way?"

Dr. James A. Kaufman is the founder and president of The Laboratory Safety Institute (LSI) www.labsafety.org,  an international, non-profit center for safety in science and science education. LSI provides workshops, seminars, onsite training programs, lab safety program development consultations, facilities inspections and regulatory compliance assistance. Contact LSI with all your lab safety questions: 800-647-1977 or info@labsafety.org.

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