An empirical model for estimating environmental health and safety program resourcing for colleges and universities

Bruce J Brown, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Inherent to the work carried out at institutions of higher education are a diverse set of potential health and safety risks and the use of a variety of potentially hazardous materials. To manage these hazards, colleges and universities maintain risk management programs that are comprised of risk financing and risk control elements. Methods currently exist that allow organizations and insurers to predict risk financing premiums to provide financial assurance against personnel and property losses. But no such models exist for the prediction of necessary institutional risk control resources, which typically take the form of environmental health and safety (EHS) programs. Data assembled during 2013 by the Campus Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) representing 118 U.S. colleges and university EHS programs were combined with other data from publicly available sources and analyzed to develop a series of models that objectively identified the key predictors that influence EHS program resourcing. When assessed individually, each of the six independent variables: (1) total institutional expenditures, (2) extramural research expenditures, (3) number of employees, (4) number of students, (5) total campus net assignable square footage, and (6) research lab net assignable square footage were found to exhibit statistically significant linear relationships with the dependent variables of (1) EHS staffing and (2) EHS expenditures. When subjected to multiple regression analysis, total campus net assignable square footage and total institutional expenditures remained as statistically significant predictors for EHS program resourcing for the entire respondent population. Sub-analyses performed on a subset of respondent institutions that were members of the Association of Academic Health Centers identified the primary predictor of EHS program resourcing to be total campus net assignable square footage. Although the models developed do not address the ultimate outcomes achieved by any EHS program (e.g., number of fatalities, injuries, illnesses or regulatory non-compliance) these findings can assist decision makers in determining the "industry average" level of staffing and resources being provided to support EHS programs. The approach also holds the potential to be broadly applied in public health settings where the value of preventive activities is often difficult to quantify and resource drivers are not objectively ascertained.

Subject Area

Occupational health|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Brown, Bruce J, "An empirical model for estimating environmental health and safety program resourcing for colleges and universities" (2014). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3638138.