February 2020 | Issue 46
Safety comes first

rsz_byline_bix_sini.jpg By Dr Sini Mathew, Assistant Director, Health and Safety 

"Hey, my training module records are missing! Do I have any safety procedure to search them?"

"Where can I get my LASER license renewed?"

"I sneezed thrice today. Do I have coronavirus?"

An average day for the Healthy and Safety professional in the academic setting is flooded with queries like these. This reminds me of my post-doctorate days – a decade ago now – when I used to chase my Health & Safety Officer with similar queries. That was also when I acquired insight into developing a safe working environment in the research labs as the labs' safety representative. Eventually, I was motivated to switch my career from research to a full-time health and safety officer.  

Presently, as the lead health and safety officer of LKCMedicine, I am tasked with health & safety programmes,  safety management system audits, routine lab inspections, safety briefings, risk assessments, licencing for biologics, chemicals and radiation, emergency preparation awareness, and so forth.

The key to the success of the health & safety programmes lies in proper communications and good rapport with the researchers, students and Principal Investigators. As Safety Officers, we wear multiple hats as an enforcement officer, an educator and more importantly, a silent listener. 

A delicate balance between enforcement of safety protocols while ensuring to avoid any hindrance for staff's research work is quintessential learning to our effective implementation of our safe working environment.

As a team effort, the School always strives to raise its bar on safety, where everyone willingly joins our hands and hearts for the greater good. Our School's recent Bronze award for Health & Safety Performance 2019 was the fruit born of this combined effort.

For now, it's back to the daily grind of keeping everyone at LKCMedicine safe. These few weeks have been hectic and challenging. But there's also been a silver lining. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has made everyone stand up and be counted in the School-wide effort to mitigate the risks of the outbreak, and to be socially responsible by taking all precautions necessary for the health and safety of everyone at LKCMedicine.