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Three people holding awards
From left: Lab safety program manager Val Freeman, director Kim Southworth and communications specialist Alex Christy.

Department of Environmental Health and Safety recognized at national conference

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Media Contact: Shannon Rigsby | Public Information Officer | 405-744-9081 |

Oklahoma State University’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety was recognized by the College Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association for their work creating a safe learning environment for researchers and students on campus. 

EHS promotes health, safety and environmental protection across labs, classrooms, university programs, activities and more. EHS received three awards at the CSHEMA annual conference for their work over the last year.

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. This EHS team is enthusiastic and takes on the challenges placed in front of them with the goal of making OSU and EHS the best they can be,” said Kim Southworth, director of EHS.

These awards exemplify the leading work EHS at OSU has done across all university programs. Three awards in different categories were given to OSU. 

For their first annual Laboratory Safety Awareness Week on campus, EHS received the Laboratory Safety Awareness Week Award. The laboratory safety division surveys more than 1,100 labs to ensure the right personal protective equipment is available, safety equipment is working and appropriate labeling is on doors. They check hundreds of pieces of equipment in each lab annually to ensure it is working properly. 

In recognition of their peroxide forming chemical testing, EHS received the Innovation Award for Safety Culture. Peroxide forming chemicals are compounds that have the capability to form explosive peroxides. Storing and disposing of these compounds requires adherence to strict guidelines. More information about these compounds can be found at this website.

Finally, for their marketing strategy and brand image improvement, EHS received the Comprehensive Marketing and Communications Award. EHS has maintained connections across campus through social media and its website. Safety training days are advertised each month on social media, along with features on staff members and what they do on campus. 

“The environmental health and safety department at Oklahoma State University has raised the bar for other campuses and is setting the example for others to strive towards,” said Beth Welmaker, president of CSHEMA. “They are well deserving of this recognition, but what goes beyond the awards themselves is the collaborative nature of this team and the sharing of information which strengthens safety programs on college campuses across the nation.”

EHS makes it possible for students, faculty and staff to submit a concern online. Anything that could lead to an injury or problem is considered important for EHS to know about and fix. They work closely with facilities management to ensure issues around campus are fixed as quickly as possible. 

Southworth said she cannot say enough about her team. 

“Employees who are passionate about working for their organization spread this excitement to customers,” she said. “EHS has been recognized as a leader in environmental, health and safety programs. I could not ask for a better team.”

Story By: Abigail Cage |

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