Campus and Community / Faculty and Staff

EHS Safety Awareness Pays Off for Facilities Management Team

Photo by Thomas B. Shea

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Manager Eddie Arias does not play favorites.

He will stop you if he sees you doing something that will get you or others injured on campus.

You see, his job for the past 13 years at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) has been to keep everyone safe. As a result of his safety “parenting,” Arias will recognize the Facilities Management team for the Five-Year No Lost Time Award.

The internal award from EHS recognizes departments that have completed a period of at least one million consecutive work hours without an occupational injury or illness resulting in days away from work.

“This represents no lost time or injuries within a five-year period,” Arias said. “The significance of that is yes, people have acccidents, but if the injury is severe enough that you have to take off work because of it, then that’s a lost time ding.”

The 40-member facilities team qualified for the no-loss time between January 2013 and January 2018. EHS nearly earned the award five years ago, but then experienced an incident at the four-year mark.

EHS follows the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) guidelines as criteria for the award.

Arias credits the no-lost time achievement to developing a safety culture at UHD.

“I started way back creating a safety culture,” he said, “You build that up first by pushing safety awareness.”

Arias has developed a buddy system with the facilities team by educating them that when your coworker gets hurt then you have to do their work or you will have to get a temporary employee and run the risk of falling behind.

“It’s creating a culture of taking care of one another,” said Arias. “Check your coworkers. If you see them doing something wrong, stop them, correct them and take care of each other.”

It hasn’t been determined what the team will receive for their achievement. Arias has seen teams in other organizations receive, plaques, belt buckles and even personal lunch coolers. His goal is for the team to be honored for the milestone sometime this summer.