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The Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (ESSR) at University of Maryland (UMD) was established to provide leadership in the identification and management of safety and environmental risks and to foster safety and sustainability. ESSR is organized into several areas of expertise.


Environmental Affairs

The Office of Environmental Affairs (OEA) is responsible for ensuring compliance with the University's various environmental permits, including air, stormwater, oil, and waste.  OEA is also responsible for the management of regulated wastes including hazardous waste, biohazardous waste, radioactive waste, and universal waste.

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Fire Marshal's Office

The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) works to protect life and property from the hazard of fire and explosion.  The OFM is the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for UMD in the areas of construction plan review, fire inspections, fire investigations, and public education.

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Occupational Safety and Health

Occupational Safety & Health ensures safe and healthful working conditions for the university's employees, students, contractors, and visitors by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.

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Research Safety

The Office of Research Safety includes the expertise of the Biosafety, Laboratory Safety, Radiation Safety, and Diving/Boating Safety professional staff, who support the research community in meeting regulatory requirements and managing health and safety risks related to research activities. 

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Risk Management

The Office of Risk Management (ORM) provides risk management expertise, resources, and a variety of insurance solutions to positively impact the university’s financial, physical and reputational well-being.

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SustainableUMD represents the University of Maryland’s commitment to advance sustainability. The Office of Sustainability supports and advances UMD’s environmental performance, sustainable policies, practices, and curricula for the campus community.

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Welcome to ESSR.
We look forward to a continuing collaboration with the campus community, welcome your ideas, and seek your input on our programs.

Maureen Kotlas, Executive Director
Maureen Kotlas Executive Director

Recent Initiatives

ESSR is working to continually improve its service to the campus community. Below are some of our current initiatives:

  • The Office of Environmental Affairs (OEA) is currently working with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) on the renewal of the University's Title V Air Quality Permit, as well as permitting associated with the upcoming overhaul of the campus combined heat and power facility. 
  • OEA is also currently working with MDE on the renewal of the campus' National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
  • The Fire Marshal's Office is currently working on enforcing the fire code while keeping the campus community safe from COVID-19.  Residential evacuation drills were managed with campus partners in an effort to familiarize residents with the fire alarm system and evacuation procedures for their buildings while maintaining social distancing.
  • Office of Research Safety (ORS) staff worked with the Laboratory Operations and Safety Committee (LOSC) to develop transparent safety guidelines for the university with clear roles and responsibilities in the new UMD Research Safety Standard. These guidelines are based upon best practice and have been reviewed and approved by both the LOSC and Senior Leadership to represent the University of Maryland’s commitment to excellence in research safety.
  • On June 19, 2020, the Maryland Department of the Environment completed their Safety and Security Inspections of the UMD Cobalt-60 Irradiator. The inspections examined radiation safety, security of the high-risk sources, compliance with conditions of the State License, adherence to procedures incorporated into the license by reference, compliance with applicable State Regulations, proper maintenance of records, interviews with personnel, general observations, physical tests of safety systems and independent physical measurements. No items of noncompliance or unsafe conditions were found.
  • With financial assistance from the Vice President for Research and the Provost, ORS and the VPR have developed a process for researchers to obtain prescription safety glasses or goggles that meet best practice standards. This process is currently open for all researchers; to participate, contact
  • SciShield (formerly BioRAFT), a web based safety platform, has been expanded to now also serve our non-research community.
    • Departments may now track training based on job activities
  • During the Covid-19 pandemic, ESSR fit-tested UMD's front line workers 
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Trainees annually
365 days
24x7 staff on call
OSHA Total Recordable
Incident Rate (2018)


The first position devoted to safety at UMD was established in the mid 1950’s with the appointment of a Safety Supervisor within the Physical Plant. In 1962, a Radiation Safety Officer was appointed and a few years later, safety was combined with security. As more regulations were promulgated, an office of Radiation and Laboratory Safety was created in 1971. In 1975, the safety function was separated from the police function and became the Department of Environmental Safety (DES). Sustainability became a program within DES in 2007. And the department was renamed Environmental Safety, Sustainability & Risk in 2015.

Some of our Past Accomplishments

2020-2016 Accomplishments

  • Launched a new Field Research Safety Program with guidance and resources aimed at assisting researchers in managing health and safety concerns related to field research.
  • Helped foster a positive safety culture in our research laboratories, and to supported the Expectations for Conducting Safety Research: Strive for Continuous Improvement, Office of Research Safety launched the SAFE Initiative focused on strengthening four cornerstones of safety: Skills, Application, Foundation and Engagement.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared the January 2016 “Snowzilla” storm a federal disaster. Under this declaration, the university was eligible to request financial reimbursement for the snow removal efforts and repair of damages. Risk Management coordinated the claims that led to FEMA reimbursement to the university of over $500,000. 
  • Office of the Fire Marshal continued to add automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to campus buildings.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health unit began to conduct machine shop inspections each year to promote safety for employees and student workers. Inspections correlate with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and include all aspects of machine shop operation.
  • A comprehensive Emergency Preparedness for Laboratories checklist was rolled out to the research community with actions to prepare for temporary closures and unexpected losses which can impact research.
  • UMD workers’ compensation data shows a continuous five-year decrease in the number of new First Report of Injury (FROI). The decline has occurred in correlation with an aging workforce and growth in the total number of employees over the five-year period.
Regulated Waste lbs Disposed (2019)
University Sustainability
Fund grants (2019)

2015-2011 Accomplishments

  • The Office of Research Safety was formed to bring together the Biological Safety, Laboratory Safety, and Radiation Safety groups. ORS supports the UMD research community by helping researchers manage the inherent risks of their research.
  • A Fire Marshal evening shift was implemented to enhance service to the campus community.
  • The Biosafety staff worked with the Department of Veterinary Medicine and campus community to implement new security provisions of the federal Select Agent regulations.
  • The Occupational Safety & Health group worked closely with FM to complete a range of facility improvement projects.
  • Environmental Affairs conducted a successful tank replacement program to protect the environment from harm.
  • Laboratory Safety, Biosafety, and OSH groups assisted the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee in a thorough review of safety and exposure control practices within the animal care and research facilities in preparation for the university’s triennial AAALAC inspection.
  • As part of an increasing emphasis on research safety, a fire inspection program with focus on laboratories was established.
  • Office of Research Safety purchased and began the implementation of the SciShield (formerly BioRAFT) web-based laboratory inspection module. This system will improve the efficiency of laboratory inspections for ESSR staff and the research community.

2010-2004 Accomplishments

  • Hosted and co-sponsored the 2nd “Smart and Sustainable Campuses Symposium”
  • Transferred responsibility for the procurement of insurance and coordination of certificates of insurance from the Department of Business Services to the Risk Management division
  • Co-coordinated disaster preparedness/ continuity of operations planning for the campus with the Department of Public Safety
  • Launched a laboratory auditing program

2005-2000 Accomplishments

  • Provided biological safety support for the study of avian influenza. The research is sponsored by the USDA with the largest grant ever provided to study a single animal disease.
  • Developed online training for a variety of required regulatory topics.
  • Successful registered UMD with the USDA Select Agent Program.
  • Initiated a comprehensive audit program to identify potential for hazardous conditions, equipment and operations in all departments with academic and research laboratories.
  • Established a centralized web-based program to procure affordable insurance coverage for individuals and groups using UMD campus facilities for events.
  • Offered safety training and programs in Spanish to accommodate the increasing numbers of workers who provide essential services to support UMD facilities and operations.
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