Office of Safety, Health, and Environment
Protecting Our People and Our Community
At NIST, we value our employees, associates, and guests as part of our unique learning environment. People are our biggest asset. That’s why we are committed to providing a safe place to contribute to NIST’s mission of advancing measurement science, standards, and technology.
Our staff members work in many different settings. We have staff working in laboratories conducting cutting-edge research, in offices providing administrative support, out in the field providing innovation and industry services to industry, and on our grounds caring for our facilities. We are also geographically diverse. Most of our staff members work at our campuses in Gaithersburg, MD and Boulder, CO, but some work at joint institutes and other locations across the country. In all of these environments, workplace safety is critical, and everyone has a role to play in ensuring that our activities do no harm.
To engage our diverse staff in safety, we actively promote a culture where everyone who works at NIST takes personal responsibility for their own safety, for the safety of their coworkers and visitors, and for safety at NIST as a whole. We have a shared commitment to achieving safety excellence by identifying and taking advantage of every opportunity to do things better tomorrow than we did today. We believe safety excellence goes hand-in-hand with mission excellence. We can do our best work only if we do it safely.
Achieving safety – and mission – excellence requires a systematic approach to managing safety risks and continually improving safety performance. To this end, NIST has implemented a safety management system based on an international standard. Within this system, we have clear roles and responsibilities so everyone at every level and across the organization knows what is expected. Our management system also includes programs for authorizing hazardous work activities, reporting and investigating safety incidents, providing safety training, and conducting workplace inspections, among other critical activities.
Our employees and associates invest a great deal of intellectual energy assessing hazards in their work activities and identifying and implementing controls to manage safety risks. They also complete safety training that applies to the hazards associated with their work such as learning how to work safely with hazardous chemicals, compressed gases, biohazardous materials, ionizing radiation, lasers, machine-shop equipment, and so on.
To continually learn from and improve the safety of our work, NIST staff members are actively engaged in helping each other learn from past safety incidents. NIST has an active incident reporting and investigation system that enables NIST-wide communication of lessons learned. We also have mechanisms for institutionalizing those lessons so that we are not relying on institutional memory, but making lasting changes in how we do our work and carry out our mission.
We also have communicated safety rights and responsibilities to ensure that all staff members know they have a right and responsibility to talk openly about safety and raise safety concerns with their peers and management.
NIST also has an environmental management system based on an international standard. It helps us minimize the environmental impact of all our activities. We safely dispose of our chemical waste, strive to reduce our energy use, and use our resources wisely to help reduce costs and our impact on the communities surrounding our campuses, where many of us not only work, but live.
To help meet the commitments outlined by the NIST Director in our safety and environmental policies, we have a dedicated team of safety and environmental professionals who staff NIST’s Office of Safety, Health, and Environment (OSHE). OSHE strives to lead and support NIST in carrying out its mission safely and in maintaining safety as an integral core value and vital part of the NIST culture.