The University of New Mexico is committed to the safety of everyone on campus, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors. In a proactive effort to assess and enhance the culture of safety, the Environmental Health and Safety department undertook an audit of occupational safety culture with the assistance of Propulo Consulting.

The audit began with a digital survey in October of 2023, targeting units with the highest occupational risk including research labs and facilities groups. Focus groups, leadership interviews, work practice observations, and documentation reviews followed. The results revealed a positive baseline on which to build a stronger culture of safety across UNM.

Encouragingly, large majorities agreed that UNM is capable of making positive changes to the safety culture and expressed willingness to contribute to such efforts. Additionally, a majority acknowledged the need for improvements in UNM’s safety culture. Respondents identified supervisors, lab managers, and peers as prioritizing safety in their work, a solid foundation to build upon.

While these positive aspects provide a strong starting point, the audit also highlighted areas for growth. Many felt that senior leadership and principal investigators could engage more substantively with safety issues. Regular discussions about safety and involvement in improvement projects were seen as lacking among respondents. Based on the Safe Research/Production model, UNM's current safety culture rating is "Disengaged," indicating a need for improvement in leadership ownership and internalizing safety as a core value.

“We view these findings not as failures but as opportunities for meaningful progress. In the coming months, the steering committee, collaborating closely with university leadership and external consultants, will develop a comprehensive strategy to cultivate a more robust culture of safety across campus,” said Casey Hall, director, Environmental Health and Safety. “Key initiatives will include establishing a governance forum, implementing a university-wide EHS management system, and incorporating safety education into academic curricula.”

The success of these efforts’ hinges on the collective commitment of our university community. We invite students, faculty, and staff to actively participate in improving our culture of safety through open dialogue, feedback, and a shared sense of responsibility. You can participate through your departmental safety committee and report hazards, accidents, or near-misses through the EHS website. Feedback should be directed to

While the audit provides an important baseline, enhancing UNM’s safety culture is an ongoing journey. UNM remains dedicated to continuously evaluating and refining our approach, ensuring it upholds the highest standards of safety for all who step onto UNM’s campus.