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New Mexico State University

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NMSU art department technician wins award for making campus a safer place

Adam Labe is a "Friend of Safety" at New Mexico State University. The Department of Art's manager of chemical safety was recently recognized for working to improve the environmental health and safety culture on campus. For his efforts, he was presented with an engraved globe, representing the impact safety managers make in the world.


Adam Labe holding up globe
Adam Labe, manager of chemical safety in the art department at New Mexico State University, was recently recognized with the "Friend of Safety" award from Environmental Health and Safety. (Photo by Stephanie Taylor)

"I was totally surprised and very appreciative when the senior staff from Environmental Health and Safety presented me with the 'Friend of Safety' award," Labe said.

Established at NMSU in 2008, the "Friend of Safety" award was inspired by the contributions of Michael Johnson, a chemistry professor, and Mary O'Connell, a Regents Professor in plant and environmental sciences, to improve the safety in science laboratories on campus. EH&S staff nominate deserving NMSU employees for the awards before voting for the winner.

"In a very short time, Adam has shown his success in leading the art safety program forward," said EH&S Executive Director Katrina Doolittle. "He's taken the lead on identifying safer equipment and creating organized work areas that include clear instructions and safety requirements, and he's worked to identify alternate strategies to minimize hazardous waste and find less hazardous alternatives where possible."

Among his duties, Labe oversees the storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Art. He also maintains and repairs machinery and tools throughout the facility as well as provides technical instruction in the areas of woodworking, welding and mold making.

Doolittle and staff members David Shearer, assistant director of EH&S, and Drew Kaczmarek, environmental manager of the EH&S, presented Labe with the award in November.

"It's extremely important to integrate safety and hazard awareness as an integral part of the art program," Doolittle said. "There is a lot of work and good communication that goes into establishing an effective safety program that will ensure students and employees work safely and protect themselves, others and the environment."

Doolittle also noted Labe's actions in a recent building evacuation where he served as liaison during the emergency response incident.

Labe, who has worked as the manager of chemical safety for three years, holds a BFA in ceramics from the University of the Arts in Pennsylvania and received an MFA in sculpture from NMSU in 2000.

"Adam is a talented sculptor, a meticulous craftsperson, a lover of tools, a man with a sense of humor, and he is utterly devoted to making the art department a safe environment for faculty and students," said Julia Barello, art department head.