Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) earned the KEMI Destiny Award for workplace safety for the fifth consecutive year. EKU accomplished this outstanding achievement through methodically implementing and managing a robust safety program that permeates all facets of the university.

EKU, a regional, coeducational public institution of higher education with the main campus located in Richmond, Kentucky, employs approximately 4,100 people. Associate Vice President for Facilities Management & Safety Bryan Makinen explains how collaboration among multiple areas of responsibility helps create a campus culture of safety for faculty, staff, students, and visitors.

What role does safety play at Eastern Kentucky University?

Safety is the central theme that informs all decisions made at the university, from operations, to new builds, to renovations. We embrace a holistic approach of workplace safety in all we do.

Eastern Kentucky University has a Division of Facilities Management & Safety that consists of the EKU Police Department, 911 Telecommunications Center, Emergency Management, Fire & Life Safety, Environmental Health & Safety, Parking & Transportation Services, Risk Management & Insurance, Facilities Management, and Capitol Construction. This division also includes oversight of the Aramark Custodial Services and Grounds Maintenance program.

Combining these areas provides an environment wherein synergisms occur to focus on worker and public safety. Our goal is to create a campus culture and foster a campus atmosphere that provides all individuals the safety they deserve. We do this with methodical planning, training, implementation, monitoring, reporting, and enforcement before incidents occur – not in reaction to them.

What are some of the workplace safety concerns unique to a university campus?

Slips, trips, and falls are universal concerns, and they are high on the list at a college campus. Our broad-spectrum risks, such as facilities operation, farm operation, chemical laboratories, aviation program, and police operation, present safety situations that other types of organizations and businesses may not experience.

Training a variety of professionals relative to safety, including facilities management, faculty, staff, student workers, and more, requires our trainers to stretch their training and instruction abilities to cater to a multitude of experiences, backgrounds, physical abilities, trade-specific tasks, and educational levels.

What impacts or benefits have resulted from a strong safety program?

The years dedicated to workplace safety have paid off by significantly lowering our workers’ compensation mod factor, and we are holding steady. The financial impact of this is astounding. We have reduced our annual workers’ compensation premium by 80%! Additionally, our OSHA recordable injuries have been substantially lowered.

We appreciate KEMI’s assistance with accident and incident trending reports. This crucial information gives us the ability to channel efforts so we can focus resources on areas of concern. The quarterly in-person claims review process has also been invaluable in helping us control costs and effectively manage difficult or complex claims.

Experiencing the partnership between the teams from KEMI, our insurance agency, and EKU is amazing.

Receiving our fifth KEMI Destiny Award is a testament to our focused efforts for improving the culture of safety.