University Business honors TAMHSC as a Model of Efficiency
Texas A&M Health Science Center is one of eight colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine in its spring 2014 “Models of Efficiency” national recognition program. Sponsored by Higher One, a leader in providing financial services and data analytics to more than 1,900 college and university campuses across the U.S., the Models of Efficiency program recognizes innovative approaches for streamlining higher education operations through technology and/or business process improvements.
“When your job is maintaining safety and compliance, you don’t want to be bogged down with paperwork,” said Tim Goral, senior editor of University Business. “By automating the data input process, The Environmental, Health and Safety Office at Texas A&M HSC not only helped improve response time to risks and hazards, but also gave everyone more time to focus on their most important responsibility—student, staff and faculty safety.”
The Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Environmental, Health and Safety office is responsible for inspecting facilities and labs across eight campuses in the TA&M University System. A total of 11 health and safety officers conduct more than 3,400 annual inspections—2,950 fire and life inspections and 537 lab inspections. During these visits, they look for code compliance, potential hazards and safety concerns. The collected data is then submitted, analyzed and reported back to facility managers so that risks and hazards can be addressed.
The time required to document issues, submit data, have the data be analyzed and entered into a central system, and then be sent back to facilities managers to be addressed, took more than a week. “In the meantime, new safety issues popped up,” says Radiation Safety Officer Erich Fruchtnicht.
One solution was to arm officers with iPads, which allowed them to take notes on-site and provide typed data for analysis. However, with only one individual assigned to handle the data, the time required to process and analyze it, calculate the risk-based inspection schedule going forward, and generate reports to be shared with inspectors and department managers was still excessive.
To eliminate the office’s reliance on a single employee, Fruchtnicht, together with the help of Emergency Management Coordinator Leslie Lutz, spent two months converting the manual methodology into an automated process. The resulting system is the Risk-Based Inspection Schedule and Reporting package. Based in Excel and making use of Visual Basic code to perform its functions, the package has revolutionized the efficiency and effectiveness of inspections at TAMHSC.
The simplicity of the program now makes it possible for anyone within the Environmental, Health and Safety office to run reports that previously only Fruchtnicht could. What used to take a week to do now takes six minutes. Generating reports for a single campus in 2012 took seven business days; in 2013, that same task took 1.5 business days, resulting in a 78 percent reduction.
“Originally published in University Business magazine, February 2014. Used by permission.”