Parsons to lead new MSU safety office

A veteran Mississippi State research professional has been named director of
the new Environmental Health and Safety Office at the land-grant
institution.

Michael S. Parsons of Eupora began his new duties earlier this month. In the
role, he will lead the university’s environmental and occupational safety
efforts.

Most recently, he worked as a research associate at MSU’s Institute for
Clean Energy Technology for the past 12 years. He also served as campus
hazardous waste officer for 11 years.

“These two positions have afforded me the opportunity to view environmental
health and safety compliance from both the enforcement and administrative
perspective, as well as the compliance requirement side of a university
researcher,” Parsons said.

Parsons holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Millsaps College, and
earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Mississippi State in 1989.
Additionally, he holds the certified hazardous materials manager designation
from the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management.

The new EH&S office is charged with developing, managing and implementing
policies and programs related to occupational safety, environmental
management and fire protection. It will oversee programs designed to
monitor, inspect and ensure compliance with corrective or preventative
actions taken to reduce or remove exposure to potentially hazardous
materials and environments.

“My top priority as director is to ensure that the entire university is
emphasizing best practices in environmental health and safety. My staff and
I will serve to assist all MSU units in this endeavor,” Parsons said.

The EH&S team will advise others on issues related to lab safety, fire
safety, biological safety, radiation safety, occupational safety and health
issues relevant to their operations, as well as coordinate development and
implementation of educational programs to provide faculty, staff and
students opportunities to understand their respective roles in safety.

The EH&S director reports to MSU’s vice president for research and economic
development, David Shaw, with additional reporting responsibilities to Vice
President for Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine Greg Bohach and
Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck.

With campus-wide environmental compliance issues and safety-related
activities consolidated into EH&S, the former Office of Regulatory
Compliance and Safety is now the Office of Research Compliance with Kacey
Strickland continuing as director.

“We will be responsible for facilitating the approval of campus research
activities, and helping researchers maintain compliance with applicable
regulations,” she said.

Examples include the use of human subjects, laboratory animals, and
biological and radiological materials, she explained.

The research compliance office, which reports to Shaw, will also have
oversight of financial conflicts of interest related to the university’s
research enterprise, Strickland said.