Congrats to the Newest CIH!!!

Please join me in congratulating Valerie Pegues on recently passing her exam by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. As a Certified Industrial Hygienist, Valerie has reached a career milestone that is by all accounts one of the hardest and most involved in our career field. I’m immensely proud of this great accomplishment on her part, all while completing a hectic work schedule, and I’m happy that we work at an institution that values professional education and certification.

Again, congrats Val and I hope we get to toast your success soon!



Welcome Kyle Stone

Please join me in welcoming Kyle Stone as our new occupational safety specialist.

After an interesting series of academic adventures pursuing a degree in Biology, Kyle eventually settled on occupational safety as a potential career field. He graduated from Old Dominion University with a bachelors of Environmental Health and a minor in Occupational safety. During his junior year at ODU, Kyle received a stipend from NEHA to complete a 400 hour internship with the Peninsula Health District, which subsequently hired him after he graduated. He comes to VCU from that position.

Like others of our colleagues, Kyle is a fan of fishing and I’m sure Mike Elliott will have long discussions on the topic with him.


Employee Engagement Survey

The results are out for the employee engagement survey and I’m happy to find that we’re all more engaged … or at least the 29 of us that responded to the survey are.

Please see the results below:

As a metric we went up in all but three areas. Those that I’m happiest with are that recognition and development improved dramatically. You deserve the recognition you get for the work that you do.

If I haven’t before, I want to reiterate that you all do excellent work; the insurance group recovers hundreds of thousands of dollars for the University; Biosafety supports $185 million in research; Occupational Safety drastically reduced FMD injury rates; Radiation Safety manages one of the few broad scope licenses in the nation; Fire Safety partnered with the Richmond Fire Department to reduce fire incidents through education; Laboratory Safety has reduced major laboratory violations through inspection and education; in one year Valerie at Industrial Hygiene has managed to dramatically reduce faculty, staff and student exposures to hazardous chemicals; and despite my best efforts, the Business Support group has managed to keep our budget in the black.

I hope that we can continue to work together to improve how we all feel about our jobs here at VCU. For instance, collectively we’re unsure what’s expected, we don’t have the materials and equipment that we need, and we don’t have the opportunity to do our best work. I’m not sure what we can do to correct this perception, but if I can do something, please let me know.

VCU Staff Senate Awards for Excellence is OPEN!

The Staff Senate is launching the first Excellence Awards for Staff only. It has been a Staff Senate labor of love for many years, and is finally coming to fruition thanks to the courageous leadership, hard work and vision of Ken Hudgins and the Staff Senate Awards and Recognition Committee.

Please go to the following:

Award nominations will be accepted until August 31st. 
Good luck!!!

Work Space Survey

As many of you may have heard, there are several office moves that are occurring over the next two years that will affect Safety and Risk Management staff. The SRM staff housed in the 700 West Grace building will be moving in 12-18 months due to proposed new construction on that site. Additionally, as the new Allied Health Professions building opens, space within the MCV campus will open for possible use by SRM.

With those considerations in mind, I would like to review what type of office space, environment and work rules would be best for our operations and work environment. We have the opportunity in the near future to design our own work space, so I want to make sure that I have your feedback on what you want in a work space and what you need to effectively do your job.

To that end, we have developed the following survey gain insight on what the majority of staff value in a work space: Office and Work Space Survey

Please take the time over the next few days to take the survey. I’d like to get this completed by the end of next week, so that I might share the results with you after we return from the July 4th holiday.

Welcome Jacob Hernadez!

Please join me in welcoming our newest Fire Safety Officer, Jacob Hernandez. Jacob works on the MCV campus.

For the past three years Jacob has worked as a VCU Health Contractor with Communication Specialists Incorporated (CSI.)  He is a professional technician in fire alarm testing and installation.  Also he is proficient in other system installations including nurse call, ASCOM, overhead paging systems, and more. Before becoming involved with life safety systems, Jacob was a in the commercial security profession.

Jacob plans to attend VCU as a student once he settles in with his new position. VCU Fire Safety has worked with Jacob over the past three years and welcome him aboard.

VCU Fire Prevention Through Education


I would like to draw your attention to – and congratulate – the entire team at the VCU Fire Safety Office for working with the Richmond Fire Department to develop a program called “Fire Prevention Through Education”.

Under the leadership of Bill Willis, Assistant Director for Fire Safety, the whole team worked with the Richmond Fire Department to build a “Burn House” to highlight the need for sprinkler systems. The fire safety team worked with the Richmond Fire Department to build the burn room and prepare for the public news event.

In what I believe to be a first for our department, Bill was interviewed by news 12 and News 8:

News 12: “Hard to put a price on your life”: Firefighters show off effectiveness of sprinklers

News 8: Richmond Fire hopes locals make ‘safe’ investment with sprinkler systems

Please join me in congratulating the whole team: Bill, Derek, Michael, Matt, Kurt, Tyler, and William. I can’t say enough how much we appreciate your efforts.

As a final comment, I find Jessica’s choice of footwear for the event questionable from a safety perspective…


Michael and the Safety Training Consortium

I would like to bring your attention to an article in VCU News today:

Congratulations to Michael for his election to the board of the Safety Training Consortium. With this VCU joins other nationally ranked universities in promoting safety nationally. Again these include the California State University, Northwestern, Princeton, Central Michigan, Emory, University of Pittsburgh, Wellesley College and Washington University in St Louis.

Well done Michael!

Welcome Michael Butts

I would like to welcome Michael Butts back to VCU after a two year hiatus. Michael accepted the position of Fire Safety Supervisor for the Monroe Park Campus and started last week.

Michael has six years of experience in Fire Safety, beginning as a volunteer firefighter in Chesterfield County, as a Fire Safety Technician on the MCV Campus and most recently as the Fire Protection Specialist for the VCU Health System. Michael is Pro Board certified through the Virginia Department of Fire Programs in: Fire Fighter I, Fire Fighter II and Hazardous Materials Operations Level. Additionally, he is certified through the State Board of Housing and Community Development as a Fire Prevention Inspector. Michael is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at VCU.

Please join me in welcoming Michael back to VCU in this more expanded role.

Spot Awards

I would like to congratulate Barbara Back, Mathew Harris and Danny Munoz for their recent Spot Awards. Barbara received her award for her outstanding support of VCU Health and her willingness to go above and beyond what’s required to support the Hospital. Matt received his award for coming in over the weekend to assist with two Dominion Energy projects in order to assure that there was limited disruption to the VCU community. Danny received his award for exceptional customer service during a spill clean-up at VCU Health.

As you’re aware, Spot awards are given in recognition of excellent work on a project, task or activity including outstanding support of day-to-day assigned business activities. They are intended to acknowledge and demonstrate immediate and spontaneous appreciation for the contributions of individuals. Our focus within the Division of Administration is clearly on customer service and examples of other criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Outstanding handling of an emergent customer service issue;
  • Exceptional response to an emergency or urgent situation;
  • Identifying an immediate process/system error or safety hazard;
  • Resolving a pay issue or other immediate need quickly;
  • Project completion of a regularly assigned project before the deadline or under budget;
  • Repeated recognition by customers for excellent service; and
  • Proposal of a new or modified work practice, training or educational achievements, etc.
  • Spot Awards can be given in amounts up to $500 (classified and wage) and/or four hours of recognition leave (classified only) for each occurrence.

Because Spot Awards are intended as more immediate forms of recognition, they can be processed each pay period, following the same deadlines as used for PAFs (see the payroll schedule for more information). They require only supervisor and Dean/Department Head approval; HR approval is not required.

I would encourage all supervisors to use this opportunity to reward SRM staff that have gone above and beyond in support of the research community, the Hospital, or the university as a whole.

Please congratulate Barbara, Matt and Danny when you see them.

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