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University of Iowa News Release

 

June 13, 2007

UI Route 66 Safety Program Reduces Injuries, Saves Money, Wins Award

Route 66, a safety-training program created at the University of Iowa and credited with reducing injuries and reduced missed workdays, has been selected to receive a national award for innovation from a professional organization for facilities professionals. The program will be highlighted at a June 27 Safety Best Practices Conference hosted by the UI. The all-day conference will showcase organizations in Iowa with the best safety practices.

The Route 66 program is part of a broader system of safety initiatives to build awareness of and commitment to safety practices, says Don Guckert, UI associate vice president and director of Facilities Management. In its first year, Route 66 increased the completion rate of safety training approximately 20 percent. The program is credited with reducing OSHA recordable injuries and lost workdays. It also linked safety with wellness, and the department saw an increase in the number of Facilities Management employees vaccinated against flu.

"Route 66 has been a wonderful way to support staff and work groups as they fulfill the organization's safety training goals and expectations," Guckert says. "The program was so popular that the work groups set new goals for this year and have continued their progress."

Route 66 was developed by a UI management and labor team as a way to recognize and reward safe work practices. The program is credited with significantly reducing injuries and missed work days, and helping to change the culture of safety in UI's Facilities Management department, according to Guckert.

The Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) selected the UI to receive its Effective and Innovative Practices Award. The award program recognizes programs and processes around the country that enhance service delivery, lower costs, increase productivity, improve customer service, generate revenue, or otherwise benefit the educational institution.

UI staff, including custodial, maintenance, and utilities workers, human resources representatives, management, and local union representatives created the Route 66 program for use during 2006. The team selected the route of the legendary U.S. Highway 66 as a way to map employee progress along the road to safer work practices. The program rewards various safety training practices and activities with points that allow work groups to move to various "virtual" checkpoints along an online, interactive map.

This is the second Effective and Innovative Practices Award that the APPA has given Facilities Management in two years. In 2005, the organization recognized the university's Biomass Fuel Project, which replaces a percentage of coal burned at the UI power plant with eco-friendly oat hulls.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Wendy Moorehead, Facilities Management, 319-335-1246, wendy-moorehead@uiowa.edu; Dave Jackson, Safety Best Practices Conference, 319-335-5062, dave-jackson@uiowa.edu; Charles S. Drum, News Services, 319-384-0048, charles-drum@uiowa.edu