The winners of the 2021 Safety Standout Awards have been selected! In a year that was unusual to say the least, our latest honorees demonstrated a steadfast commitment to safety. Learn more here about our latest winners and runners-up, plus join us when we hold a virtual awards ceremony during our next EHS Now online educational experience in June.
The EHS Daily Advisor Safety Standout Awards are sponsored by SafeStart, a safety company focused on human factors. Its mission is to reduce preventable deaths and injuries both on and off the job by making human factors more understandable, safety training more personable, and giving organizations around the world a more engaging and useful approach to keeping people safe.
SafeStart’s practical approach to learning and their transformative human factors framework allow their consultants, staff, and clients to unlock continuous improvements and tackle the toughest workforce challenges. Its unique combination of individual and system solutions gives companies a more dynamic and reliable approach to preventing injuries and improving performance. Learn more at safestart.com.
Read on to meet the winners and runners-up of our 2021 Safety Standout Awards!
Best Overall Safety Program and Culture: UCOR
UCOR, an Amentum-led partnership with Jacobs, performs complex environmental restoration for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Along with small business partner RSI Entech, LLC, UCOR employs a highly skilled workforce of approximately 1,162 direct hire employees and 712 subcontractor personnel. A DOE Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star designee, UCOR is responsible for remediation and environmental restoration of sites that were created as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. With different operational histories, each of these sites pose unique risks, have different cleanup needs, and perform varying ongoing DOE missions.
Facing such a wide variety of hazards, from structural degradation of aging facilities to radioactive contaminants, hazardous materials, chemicals, and waste to industrial and naturally occurring biological hazards to the inherent physical hazards associated with construction, demolition, and heavy equipment, UCOR must have outstanding programs in order to safely succeed in its daily work. UCOR’s Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS) governs all its operations to protect workers, the public, and the environment, and the EHS Daily Advisor awards selection committee was thoroughly impressed by the extensive, detailed, and comprehensive supporting documents provided by UCOR. With clearly defined safety programs and processes made accessible to a diverse workforce and excellent safety communication efforts across the board, UCOR truly stood out as a superlative example of organizational safety leadership.
When asked why it believes its safety program and culture are exceptional, UCOR had this to say in the award application:
“UCOR fosters a robust culture of excellence and a safety conscious work environment through leadership, employee/worker engagement, and organizational learning. The ISMS and VPP, coupled with exemplary health, safety, and environmental programs that go beyond mere compliance, provide a platform on which a highly skilled and engaged workforce contribute to the identification of value-added safety, efficiency, productivity, and quality improvements that drive exceptional performance.
“…Positive recognition for UCOR’s efforts have been acknowledge[d] through the receipt of awards such as the 2020 DOE Legacy of Stars Award, the 2020 Washington Exec Pinnacle Government Team Project of the Year, one of EHS Today’s Safest Companies in America in 2019, numerous awards from the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA), and the National Safety Council (NSC). Ken Rueter, UCOR President and CEO, was selected as one of the 2019 CEOs Who ‘Get It.’
“The top-performing UCOR team is grounded by a common commitment to safety. Our client and community acknowledge it, and our numbers back it. Success is built on a solid safety culture that operates in accordance with world-class health, safety, and environmental programs. …Our performance and commitment to safety define our reputation.”
UCOR may now add an EHS Daily Advisor Safety Standout Award to its impressive list of accomplishments in the safety field. Congratulations to UCOR for its well-deserved recognition for Best Overall Safety Program and Culture!
Innovations in Safety Training Award: Santa Fe College Building Safety Ambassador Program
Santa Fe College is a large multi-campus institution with seven campuses and centers in two different counties in the state of Florida. Though the college has a police department and safety and risk coordinator, the institution found that the amount of staff with safety, security, and hazard identification training was insufficient for its numerous properties. The challenge was to increase and leverage existing college personnel to take ownership of assigned areas and be primary safety liaisons to other college staff within specific buildings or at other campuses—and it was this need that spurred the innovation of Santa Fe College’s Building Safety Ambassador Progam.
Conceptualized in 2016 and then implemented as a unique pilot project in 2019 following several years of research and development, the Santa Fe College Building Safety Ambassador Program has partnered with local authorities and employed numerous tools, largely created in-house, with mixed training methodologies and media including vetted handouts, hands-on instruction, and presentations and photographs specific to Santa Fe College. The Safety Standout Awards selection committee was impressed by this approach of creating Safety Ambassadors who act as “force multipliers” for safety, instructing volunteer civilian personnel who may then improve employee engagement in safety across campuses and also further leverage their training by mentoring and teaching others in their assigned buildings and centers.
“All Ambassadors have a minimum of formal professional development in the following 10 broad topics: Safety; civility and de-escalation; evacuation drills; fire extinguisher familiarization and use; building inspections; first aid/CPR; Stop the Bleed; hazardous materials and first aid kits; emergency procedures; and site plans. Site plan training includes pre-incident planning using site maps to plot emergency systems, a function typically only associated with facilities. In particular, building inspection training and understanding of a facilities work order system has led to completion of 354 work orders identifying hazards and leading to repair and/or improvement of both major and minor infrastructure concerns.”
Santa Fe College currently has 12 Building Safety Ambassadors that have completed training, and the program continues to garner increased engagement and interest among staff. After adapting its second round of Ambassador classes to obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, a full curriculum is planned for summer 2021, with input from existing Building Safety Ambassadors—and several potential new Ambassadors have already signalled interested and are approved to attend.
Best Safety Committee: The Corning Museum of Glass
COVID-19 has presented safety challenges across the working world, and especially for those businesses that foster close relationships with the public. The Corning Museum of Glass houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of glass, featuring objects spanning 35 centuries. The Museum is open for public visitation daily year-round, serves as a popular regional venue for third-party events, houses an extensive retail shop with additional online sales, a café, and includes a full-service glass workshop that accommodates simple glassmaking projects for novices as well as intensive week-long courses in a range of glassmaking techniques. When the pandemic hit, the Corning Museum of Glass’s safety committee rose to the occasion—with excellent results.
Faced with the enormity of securing and maintaining the safety of the campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum mobilized the COVID-19 safety team, created as a subset of the Museum’s broader Incident Management Matrix Team, which serves as the framework for the institution’s ongoing cycle of preparedness. The 10-person committee, consisting of representatives from various departments including EHS, operations, HR, marketing, sales, finance, IT, and executives, was selected to represent the critical areas of Museum operations to expedite decisionmaking and ensure responsiveness, and membership expanded throughout the pandemic to ensure critical voices were heard and represented.
The committee mobilized teams across the museum to reimagine every public space, program, and offering to reflect COVID conditions, including comprehensive environmental graphics leading guests safely through the museum, and introduced a safety mascot, Penguin Pierre (see image at right), to engage the public and reinforce safety protocols.
The Corning Museum of Glass aptly described in its application why its special safety committee efforts have been exceptional:
“The Museum’s COVID pandemic and resulting closure has been the most significant challenge to face the Museum since 1972, when flood waters breached the building, damaging our collections. Against an unprecedented global pandemic, the COVID-19 safety team provided critical and steadfast leadership. With more that 1,500 person hours in meetings alone since March 2020, the team has exhibited a remarkable ability to convene and adapt quickly in order to overcome obstacles physical, financial, and emotional, while arriving at sustainable solutions to secure the Museum’s future and limit the risk to staff and the public.”
With its diverse yet clearly defined roles and responsibilities, effective messaging both internally and publicly, and daily engagement in the promotion of worker safety amid a worldwide pandemic, the Corning Museum of Glass is most deserving of the Safety Standout Award for Best Safety Committee.
Moving Beyond Compliance Award: Clearway Energy Group
Clearway Energy Group, the 2021 recipient of the Moving Beyond Compliance Award, is a relatively young organization that was spun off from the NRG renewable portfolio in 2018 and has solar and wind sites across the United States, with new sites added each year. The company has demonstrated a great commitment to safety, however, especially when it comes to addressing human factors and moving safety programs and culture beyond compliance.
Clearway utilizes a safety management system based on ISO 45001 that incorporates principles of Human Performance Improvement and a “Just Culture” where a focus is maintained on understanding human behavior, abilities, and limitations and how they relate to the design of work-related systems, processes, job tasks, and the work environment. Each employee and leader in the company receives Human Performance Fundamentals training that contains information regarding human error as well as error prevention tools. This fundamental understanding is then incorporated into work activities such as job hazard analyses, pre-job briefings, leadership field safety observations, stop work authority, and what Clearway calls a “Safety Over Production” procedure that lays out steps taken to identify and resolve safety-related issues
Clearway’s application further elaborated on the necessity of positive communication and the establishment of safety norms when addressing human factors, behavioral safety, and safety culture:
“Employees have a number of ways to identify and address at-risk behaviors…we encourage employees to positively address unsafe behaviors when observed. Part of our Human Performance Improvement training is focused on positive communication with one another and the expectation that when unsafe conditions or behaviors are seen that they should be addressed immediately and that if another employee asks about a behavior it should not be taken as a negative and should be discussed with the mindset that we value one another’s safety.”
With its focus on human factors, Clearway is truly moving its excellent safety program beyond compliance to the benefit of both its employees and its organizational culture!
BLR’s Lifetime Achievement in Safety Award: Thomas Hawthorne
Thomas Hawthorne has worked in the EHS field for over 30 years and currently manages occupational safety and health for Chugach Industries Incorporated (specifically, its government solutions subsidiary Chugach Technical Solutions, LLC) at the 6,500 acre, 900 building U.S. Army installation at Picatinny Arsenal, located in northern New Jersey. Tom is no stranger to the EHS Daily Advisor Safety Standout Awards—Chugach has won two organizational awards previously, in the Moving Beyond Compliance and Best Overall Safety Program and Culture categories—and his tireless and life-long devotion to workplace health and safety have now earned him BLR’s Lifetime Achievement in Safety Award.
Tom describes himself as “not big on personal recognition,” and his humility and service-oriented passion for safety are readily apparent. While he has achieved numerous commendations and accomplishments (including being named Chugach Safety Leader of the Year) over his decades-long career that encompasses almost all things related to EHS from worker safety to hazardous waste remediation, Tom is quick to credit his team and employees for successes and speaks fondly of mentors who helped him get his start as a health and safety officer.
The many glowing recommendations from his colleagues and friends share a noticeable commonality among them: A deep appreciation for Tom’s view that safety is more than just a job—it’s a mission. As one letter stated:
“I have honestly never seen the level of steadfast dedication to safety that I have seen with Tom. He really lives, breathes, and eats safety on and off the job. Though he generally spends most of his life on the job.
“Tom takes safety and caring about people to a level that is unparalleled in today’s world. During a major lay-off several years ago, Tom was more upset about people losing their jobs than the workers were. During this unprecedented COVID-19 situation Tom has been on the forefront of Chugach’s Crisis Action Planning Team developing the safest way for our essential services to keep working. I have seen how this pandemic has truly affected Tom.
“Tom has mentored Chugach personnel across the site and he has never not come through when needed.”
The awards selection committee offers its congratulations to Tom for this recognition. His deep knowledge of and reverence for safety, his commitment to his team, and his continued focus on the mission to protect the workforce make him exceptionally worthy of the Lifetime Achievement in Safety Award.
Young Safety Professional Excellence Award: Anna Bell
Anna M. Bell, GSP, ASP, CSP, is Safety Specialist at The Great Lakes Construction Co. in Ohio. Starting out in an industry primarily dominated by men, Anna focused on forming personal relationships with the workforce and building a rapport that would later help her develop EHS policies and procedures that would roll out within the company. Thanks to her efforts to incorporate all employees into the safety program and make their voices heard, Anna was able to build a robust safety culture while observing a decrease in incident and injury rates.
Anna also demonstrates keen leadership skills as well as a commitment to continuing education. After achieving her OSHA 500 certification, she has since trained well over 200 people on safety and health standards, with her students including employees of her company as well as students at local trade schools and high schools, where she taught them basic safety skills needed for home and on the job—and also about opportunities in the safety profession. Anna holds Graduate Safety Professional, Associate Safety Professional, and Certified Safety Professional designations, and she plans to continue her education with the Certified Industrial Hygienist accreditation and a Master’s Degree in business administration.
Anna’s colleague and previous Lifetime Achievement in Safety Award winner William Hocevar also describes her impressive rise to leadership positions both within her company and also within her community:
“Anna has been quick to become not only a leader within our company, but she [has] also taken leadership positions in the industry. She sits on the Construction Safety Forum and the Construction Safety Council. She helps the Forum maintain their OSHA alliance status with outreach training programs, culminating in the annual Safety Day Convention. She guides the Safety Council by choosing [and] obtaining speakers to help construction companies meet specific requirements of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. She promotes day to day safety as well as safety as a profession to high school students with her safety outreach program by teaching them basic safety skills. She holds the title of Vice President of the Northern Ohio Damage Prevention Council, was chosen to be a Future Executive Committee member, and participates in the OCA and AGC of Ohio Safety Committees.
“In my personal and professional opinion, Anna Bell exemplifies the safety profession at its best. Her dedication, leadership skills, vision, and ability to work with others is helping change our profession for the better.”
With dedicated professionals such as Anna leading the way, the future of the EHS field is bright indeed. The Safety Standout Awards selection committee extends its congratulations to her for this well-deserved award!
A Nod to Our Safety Standout Awards Runners-Up for 2021
We would also like to congratulate several outstanding runners-up that were selected in certain 2021 Safety Standout Awards categories:
Best Overall Safety Program and Culture
Innovations in Safety Training Award
Best Safety Committee
Moving Beyond Compliance Award
Young Safety Professional Excellence Award
Congratulations, and We Will (Virtually) See You at EHS Now!
Please join us in congratulating all of our Safety Standout Award winners and runners-up on their well-deserved recognition as leaders in the safety field!
We will further celebrate the accomplishments of our 2021 Safety Standout Award winners in a virtual awards ceremony during our next summit, EHS Now: An Online Educational Experience. In addition to honoring our award winners, this online event promises a wide variety of educational sessions for environment, health, and safety managers and professionals.
This two-day, free virtual summit will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, June 16–17, 2021. You may attend all of our sessions (including an opening keynote from Lorraine Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council), choose the ones most relevant to you and your organization, or receive recordings of the sessions to view on demand—all at no cost! Click here to learn more and to register today.
And be sure to keep an eye on our awards home page to see when our next round of Safety Standout Awards opens up for nominations—your organization could be the next to be recognized in 2022!