3.11.2 Institutional Environment
The institution takes reasonable steps to provide a healthy, safe, and secure environment for all members of the campus community.
Judgement of Compliance:
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) Office of Safety & Risk Management strives to ensure all campus occupants enjoy a healthy and hazard free environment that complies with applicable federal, state, and local environmental regulatory requirements. As part of their effort, Safety & Risk Management provides technical consultations, training assistance, and other specialized services in the following areas:
Fire Safety & Emergency Response
- Routine fire extinguisher maintenance
- Facilities emergency egress path inspections
- Emergency alarm response
- Fire investigation
- Code compliance monitoring
General Health & Safety, Occupational Safety & Health
- Complaint investigation
- Facilities safety inspections
- Emergency response
- Code compliance monitoring
Hazardous Waste, Materials Management, & Industrial Hygiene
- Health complaint investigation
- Coordination of material containment and disposal
- Code compliance monitoring
Safety & Risk Management also works to inform and educate the campus about safety related issues. Emergency contact information, forms, policies, OSHA information, and the Emergency Preparedness Guide are only a few examples of the easily accessible information available on the department’s website.
Facilities Planning & Management also plays a key role in maintaining and improving the campus environment. Since 2000, significant improvements have been made in the Facilities Department’s ability to control temperature and humidity in campus buildings. These efforts help ensure healthy, comfortable interior conditions conducive to the mission of the University.
- Poorly functioning and outdated pneumatic HVAC control systems have been replaced with modern, more efficient digital controls; and a re-commissioning contract was implanted to ensure efficient operation of existing digital HVAC control systems;
- Repair and replacement of outside air dampers combined with modern controls have allowed more efficient use of outside air for many HVAC systems on the campus;
- A contracted preventative maintenance program for rooftop exhaust fans was initiated to ensure safe, consistent ventilation for labs and restrooms;
- A new chilled water distribution control system was implemented, greatly improving dehumidification capacity to campus buildings;
- A maintenance contract ensures consistent replacement of air filters in all campus HVAC systems.
The Facilities Department also works with Safety & Risk Management to proactively ensure campus spaces are free of mold. Good humidity control, acceptable space temperatures, and preventing water intrusion are the primary defense. But in the event there is moisture intrusion into a space, prompt actions are taken to extract the moisture and reduce the possibility of mold growth. If mold is suspected, Safety & Risk management will sample the area and make recommendations appropriate for the scope of the findings. In the event of major water intrusion (such as flooding), UTC will utilize the state’s contract with a vendor approved for emergency water extraction & remediation.
UTC also recognizes that asbestos poses a significant environmental hazard that can have an impact on the health of campus occupants. In 2008, Safety & Risk Management worked with the State of Tennessee to complete a survey identifying the location of asbestos throughout the campus. This information has proven invaluable by informing maintenance staff of areas with asbestos containing material present and greatly reducing the risk of airborne particles being released. The survey is also utilized to plan for major renovations to campus buildings. During the last decade, all major renovations have included significant asbestos abatement.
Fire safety has been significantly improved in University buildings. Design standards now require fire alarm systems to be fully addressable to the device level. This change allows police dispatchers to know the exact location of the device in alarm. The majority of campus buildings have new or upgraded systems allowing individual fire alarms to report to the central Public Safety Office, and the entire central station has been upgraded from analog to a fully digital system. In addition, assembly areas renovated since 2003 and all new buildings use fire alarm systems with remote voice notification, allowing pre-recorded emergency messages or live messages to be dispatched to building occupants from the central station.
UTC has also worked diligently to provide a healthy, safe, and secure exterior environment, as illustrated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Campus Crime statistics. Well lit, aesthetically pleasing pedestrian walkways have been strategically developed to connect key areas of the campus, and traffic calming devices (raised crosswalks and speed tables) have improved safety at pedestrian crossings. Bike racks have also been installed at numerous campus locations to improve access and security for cyclists.
Outdoor lighting has been significantly upgraded. Perimeter lighting for many campus buildings has been improved, and the majority of campus pedestrian lights have been upgraded to “technical” fixtures that enhance lighting where required while reducing annoying light pollution. Photo-cells ensure outdoor lighting is on when needed, and campus security routinely inspects parking lots and campus streets during routine patrols to ensure lights are operational.
ADA compliance is a priority at UTC and, during the last decade, significant steps have been taken to make the campus more accessible.
- Substantial elevator upgrades have been made: three are additions where none existed, four more have been totally modernized, and all others have been upgraded to meet ADA & ASME codes.
- Curb cuts and raised sidewalks are in place throughout the campus, and handrails have been added at various campus locations to increase accessibility.
- At least one entrance to all campus buildings has been equipped with an automatic door opener.
- A campus tactile map was installed near the University Center, and an ongoing effort is being made to incorporate Braille on room signage within campus buildings.
Campus security has been substantially bolstered in the last decade by the adoption of card access, a new key standard, and the use of video surveillance. In 2003, Facilities Planning & Management began installing card access on primary academic buildings, which has greatly increased the protection of buildings, academic equipment, students, and faculty/ staff. As of 2010, card access had been installed on the entrances to 16 buildings and was being installed in critical classrooms and lab areas. Priorities for future expansion of the system include securing all building perimeters and critical interior area, and providing remote lockdown capability.
The Facilities Department is also working to address the issue of outdated and compromised key systems throughout the campus. The new system, referred to as the “W” blank, is standard on all renovation or new construction projects and uses a proprietary key blank that cannot be duplicated by outside vendors. This system greatly reduces the risk of unauthorized entry by eliminating the potential for University keys to be copied by outside vendors and distributed to unauthorized personnel. The risk of unauthorized entry has been further reduced by the installation of a computerized key tracking system in Campus Security. This new system provides fast, accurate tracking of the temporary issuance of keys to authorized personnel.
Security has been heightened in critical student service areas, major pedestrian centers, and parking lots throughout the campus through the use of video surveillance. Current buildings outfitted with the additional security include the University Center, Lupton Library, Maclellan Gym, and the recently constructed Aquatic & Recreation Center. The cameras have proven themselves to be both an invaluable investigative tool and a deterrent toward future incidents.
Classroom security has been significantly augmented through the use of “red phones.” Installed in classrooms throughout campus, these phones allow classroom occupants to quickly contact Public Safety in an emergency situation. Plans for the system include a “reverse 911” function allowing Public Safety to dispatch information and alerts to classrooms through the phones. UTC also has exterior “emergency phones” strategically placed throughout the campus, allowing anyone in distress to quickly and conveniently contact Public Safety.
Emergency response is taken very seriously at UTC, and significant steps have been made to establish an infrastructure which ensures essential requirements are in place for effective response to emergency situations.
- Emergency generators have been installed or upgraded at critical campus locations (Public Safety, Telecommunications & Networking, Central Energy Plant, and key assembly areas)
- An “Emergency Response Command Center” was established to act as the central hub of communication
- Mass notifications through text alerts have been adopted to provide mass dispersion of critical information
- Radio communications for Campus Security and the Facilities department use the 900Mhz county-wide emergency response network
- Safety and Risk Management web page
- Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Campus Crime statistics
http://www.tbi.state.tn.us/tn_crime_stats/publications/Crime on Campus 2009.pdf