New Facilities Services director oversees campus health, safety

April 9, 2024 (Volume 47, Number 16)
Article by Michele Coffill

Colin Brander in dark suit jacket and white shirt

Colin Brander, director of environmental health and safety

Photo Credit: Macayla Cramer

Colin Brander brings vast experience to the new role of director of environmental health and safety.

The Facilities Services position combines oversight of lab safety and occupational safety, Brander said, adding that is partially what piqued his interest.

"This job was an opportunity to move to the management side while maintaining the technical aspect of the job," he said.

Brander earned a master of science degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor's degree in both occupational health science and environmental health science from Purdue University.

He said while at Purdue he initially pursued pre-pharmacy and pre-assistant studies programs but neither fit his goals. "I talked to my faculty and said I enjoyed the chemistry and also the health side of things, and their recommendation was the health and safety degree," Brander said.

That's another plus of this job, he said, being able to work with and mentor students. Students from the occupational safety and health program are gaining real-world experience in Brander's office.

"The students and I are in the process of doing area risk assessments. We've been in a number of buildings on tours, looking for potential risk items. If we find any, we relay those to our building contact and move forward with amending that situation," he said.

Brander said as a student at Purdue, the opportunity to work with health/safety professionals was extremely beneficial. "It put me one step ahead of other students in the program," he said.

Brander has worked at Northrop Grumman and Pfizer Inc. in various roles. In his first few months at Grand Valley, he said he's in the process of internally auditing the university’s environmental, health and safety programs to ensure it is in compliance with EPA and OSHA regulations.

In collaboration with other campus departments, Brander said there are plans in place to implement a campuswide online form to report and track illnesses and injuries in any campus building. He said one benefit of this tool would be to immediately see any localized trends of illnesses or injuries.

Faculty and staff with any health or safety concerns are encouraged to send an email to Brander or to his office at [email protected].

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This article was last edited on April 9, 2024 at 10:4 a.m.

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