The Provost hosted the Health and Safety Excellence Awards ceremony for this year's winners.
The Provost presented awards to two individuals and two teams in this year’s Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Health and Safety. The awards were established to honour staff at the College whose work has resulted in significant improvements in health and safety over the last year.
At the ceremony the Provost said: “The integrity of our actions and environment underpins our world class teaching and research, and excellence in health and safety is a vital part of this. Excellence in this area – in an environment as complex as Imperial – requires us all to work together, and this is demonstrated by the winners of these awards.”
Below we meet two of this year’s winners.
“Safety enhances our research activities”
Brian Willey, a technician in the Department of Physics, was the winner of the individual award for his work in laser safety.
“I carry out regular inspections of our research labs, and make recommendations as to the use of enclosures, cameras and motorised mounts for optics, to minimise the use of protective eyewear,” said Brian. “I advise on assessments, codes of practice and other documentation relating to laser safety. In addition, I ensure laser users are trained for the tasks they perform, and that they and the equipment they use are registered in the faculty database.”
Reflecting on the award, Brian said: “I am very pleased to have received this award. Safety does not hinder but actually enhances our research activities.
“When I took on the role of Laser Safety Officer on a temporary basis, I never dreamed that I would still be carrying out the duties 24 years later, and receiving a prestigious award for my work!”
“Everyone was so collaborative”
Dr Henry Burridge, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was highly commended for his work on ventilation during the pandemic. A research background that included expertise in building ventilation led to Henry getting involved in several projects looking at ventilation in schools, using carbon dioxide sensors to monitor ventilation levels.
“We wanted to achieve well ventilated classrooms,” Henry said, “By which I don't mean open all the windows and freeze all the kids, and I certainly don't mean close all the windows. We wanted a way for teachers to know when to open and close windows.”
Henry brought his experience from these projects to Imperial: “I was doing all this work in schools and it felt somewhat ironic to not be doing something similar in my own department. The university and the department were very supportive. We ended up installing monitoring in every single teaching space in the department.”
Cross-discipline collaboration is key to good health and safety practice in Henry’s view. “We were a really diverse group right from epidemiologists, through to mathematicians, to engineers,” Henry said. “It's been a very interesting experience, and I think we've all learned a lot from each other. I think the main experience of the pandemic is everyone was so collaborative.”
Reflecting on this recognition for his work, Henry said: “The pandemic has taught us that health and safety comes in a very wide variety of forms, and has very drastic implications for the well-being of individuals, and society. I think it is excellent that we have these high-profile awards dedicated to health and safety.”
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