As the year winds down, we’re taking a look this week at some highlights from 2021. Today, we’re highlighting excerpts from installments of our Faces of EHS feature.
For our EHS Leadership Week, Faces of EHS profiled Crystal Turner-Moffatt, the president, principal consultant, and CEO of the safety firm CDT EHS Consulting LLC. Learn more about Crystal’s barrier-breaking journey as a safety professional and entrepreneur; her deep passion for environment, health, and safety (EHS); her thoughts on the importance of leadership, mentors, and sponsors; and the compliance and cultural issues she engages with every day as the “Safety Diva.”
What led you to pursue a career in the EHS field, and what are you up to now?
I have always had an interest in the sciences, from my first look at the microcosm of pond water in junior high to frog dissections in high school. I had designs on medical school at an early age and took part in programs such as Columbia/Barnard’s Pre-Medical Education Program while in high school, and upon graduation, I went on to study Psychology and Basic Sciences at Wesleyan University. From my undergraduate work learning to perform stereotaxic neurosurgery and microsurgery on animals to my neuroscience research at Tulane University, I was amazed and intrigued by the possibilities a career in the sciences would offer. I embarked on a research career and, over a 12-year period, landed research jobs in the neurosciences at research institutions such as Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Rutgers University, and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. I discovered an interest in pharmacology while taking graduate courses in neuroscience and enrolled in a post-baccalaureate certificate program in toxicology. This experience was immeasurable, as it introduced me to the Society of Toxicology (SOT), where I learned that I could use my multifaceted talents, interests, and scientific skills and focus them in one field of study.
Derek Morgan, East Coast Corporate Safety Director at Rosendin, is a rising star in the environment, health, and safety (EHS) field who achieved a leadership position at an early age. Read on for more about Morgan’s career and his advice for safety professionals, how his experiences on his university football team shaped his leadership principles, and how his values continue to be his rock throughout his day-to-day work in safety.
Let’s start off with what initially led you to become interested in and then pursue a career in the EHS field.
What got me into safety? Long story short, like any kid who grows up playing sports, for me, it was football. I always wanted to be in the NFL, and that was my dream. Going up through high school, I knew that I loved sports, I loved cars, and I loved working with my hands. So, when I went into college, it was with open-mindedness, and I did not declare a major at that point.
Fast-forward 2 years, and I finally got to the point where I sat down with my head football coach, Dr. Mihalik, and he said, “Hey, Derek, what do you want to do with your life?” And I said, “You know what, I was thinking about being a teacher. I like to teach, but I’m really not too sure.” So he told me, “What about safety?” And I said, “Well, what about it?” And the conversation really started. I really had no idea exactly what safety was at that point and what that industry really held as far as opportunities and workload went. I got into safety that next semester—Introduction to Safety is what it was.
I got into it, and I started to like it. And as I was sitting through that class, I remembered growing up that I had a lot of family members who were in the unions: tradesmen, ironworkers, electricians, stuff like that. And all the time that I was growing up as a little kid, they always came home and talked about the safety guy this or safety guy that. And it hit me—I was like, “By God, this is me. I’m about to become this person.”
As a mobile technology and connected device entrepreneur, Heidi Lehmann, President and CCO at Kenzen, has spent most of her career working at various start-ups across the country. It’s no surprise, however, that she has spent the past six years working at the intersection of connected devices and industrial wearables. For our latest “Faces of EHS” profile, we sat down with Heidi to discuss the importance of safety technology, her best mistake, and more.
How did you get your start in the field?
I’ve been working at the intersection of connected devices and industry (“industrial wearables”) for about six years. Initially, Kenzen was focused on heat prevention for professional athletes. In fact, our first investors (and field testers) were the NFL (via a grant) and the San Francisco 49ers. However, we soon realized we could have a much larger impact keeping high-risk workforces safe from heat injury, rather than professional athletes who typically always have trainers and coaches around them to tend to their safety. Lone workers, workers in confined spaces, workers on hot construction, mining, and manufacturing sites these are now the workers we serve. We call workers “industrial athletes” due to the high exertion and extreme conditions in which they work.
Kenzen is a safety technology company, and we have a platform that predicts and prevents industrial workforce injuries due to heat stress (and other conditions), while providing data driven insights to improve productivity. The front end of our platform is a small device worn on the upper arm which continuously monitors a worker’s physiology to detect the potential onset of injury. We’ve deployed the Kenzen system across the globe, in every continent but Antarctica.
Although Scott Gerard started in the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) field as a fire medic, it was his continued interest in film that put him on the path he walks today. Gerard studied film and theater in undergrad and those skills came in hand when a friend who worked at GE Plastics asked if he would produce a series of custom industrial safety videos.
According to Gerard, that was the turning point for him. “To effectively put the videos together I needed to learn the actual safety procedures,” he shared with EHS Daily Advisor. “It was at that moment I saw that I could either continue down the path as a fire medic and help people by responding to accidents after they happened, or I could get in front of the event and be responsible for helping prevent them from happening in the first place. As I became a subject-matter expert in petrochemical safety through the production of these videos, I realized I wanted to do more of the latter and help develop safety programs myself.”
Gerard would go on to help companies in a myriad of industries – including aviation, manufacturing, transportation, and construction – before joining Moss Construction as VP of Environmental, Health, and Safety. In his role, Gerard provides strategic development and implementation of all environmental, health, safety, and security procedures for projects in the United States, Caribbean and the Bahamas for the national construction management company.
While attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Camille Oakes had her mind set on becoming a pilot. Her heart, however, had other plans. After taking an introduction to occupational safety class, she loved it, and changed her major. Oakes joined the university’s ASSP student chapter and began connecting with other safety professionals in Central Florida. Suffice it to say, she had found her true passion.
“Those safety professionals showed me what a career in EHS could be,” she told EHS Daily Advisor. “I eventually moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and started in the field as a government contractor.”
Oakes would go on to graduate with a B.S. in Safety Science. Later, she’d obtain a Master of Engineering in Advanced Safety and Engineering Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham as well as earn several meaningful industry acronyms, including Certified Safety Professional (CSP), CSP, MEng, SMS, CIT, and OHST. In addition, Oakes also started her own business, Better Safety, LLC. Using data, storytelling, and presentation, the safety and health consulting firm makes safety principles understandable and fun to help workplaces continually improve.
With more than 16 years of experience in safety, health, and operations, Oakes says she tries to help create a better and safer world. “In working with a wide variety of businesses, I have found that it’s all about building trust, breaking down barriers, opening discussions, and identifying opportunities,” she says. “The result is that work gets better.”