Orange County Sanitation District
Safety & Health Supervisor
Orange County, California
How did you get involved in safety?
In the early part of attending college, I worked for a local grocery store in the produce department. I witnessed a coworker slip and fall on the sales floor as a result of water that had accumulated below the wet rack (an area where water sprays the vegetables to keep them fresh and cool). He sustained severe injuries and was out of work for several weeks. Prior to the incident, we had made several reports to management that the floor was slippery and requested floor mats to prevent employees or customers from slipping. Those reports were ignored or not prioritized. This workplace injury had such a profound impact on me that I changed my major from business to occupational health. I knew from then on that I wanted to dedicate my career to providing a safe and healthy workplace.
What is your most recent safety-related work accomplishment or something you’re proud of?
I am proud to work for an organization where both management and employees are committed to safety. Over the past five years, we have experienced more than a 50% reduction in workplace incidents. Much of this is contributed to an improved safety culture, advanced workplace planning, training, and our pursuit for Cal/VPP Star certification.
What has been your favorite aspect of the VPPPA/how has your company benefitted from VPPPA membership?
VPPPA provides great networking and professional development opportunities, as well as access to webinars and publications. It is great being able to connect with like-minded individuals who share the same goals of protecting the workforce. The webinars are a great way to learn and advance existing programs and procedures or for the creation of new ones.
What is one of the biggest challenges you and/or your company currently face when it comes to safety at the workplace?
One current challenge is our aging infrastructure and the constant demand for equipment and process area upgrades (and associated construction), and keeping up with the changing regulations and technology, which means we need to be constantly training and proactively guiding employees to continue to work safely.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in safety?
A career in safety is challenging, but very rewarding. You have an opportunity to make a profound impact on somebody’s life, which extends beyond the coworker to their families and their way of life. Much of being a safety professional is about making practical decisions. If I could offer advice to an entry-level safety professional it would be to listen to the concerns and suggestions from everyone, no matter what level they are. The end user always has suggestions on how to mitigate or eliminate a risk associated with their work.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I enjoy spending time with my wife and two little boys. You can usually find us at a beach, on a hiking trail, riding bikes, or finding a new park to play at. My family is the reason why I choose to work safe.