More questions for a 30-year safety professional
June 16, 2014
During National Safety Month 2014, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center will highlight achievements and perspectives of members of the Army's first class of Career Program-12 safety interns, who finished training in 1984. Jill M. Segraves, CSP, director, Occupational Health, Safety and Environment Division, Transportation Security Administration, is the second intern profiled for this series.
What factors drew you to a career in safety?
My number one factor was injury prevention. I worked at my college's health unit to gain experience in the healthcare field and was affected by the pain and suffering of students undergoing treatment for avoidable injuries. After that, I began to focus my education and career on the challenge of injury prevention. I was fortunate to have two Slippery Rock University professors who were enrolled in a new master's program in safety management at West Virginia University, and they encouraged me to enter the program too. The safety field was no longer about counting injuries and enforcing OSHA regulations; it was about looking at safety from a business approach, having the skills to determine the impact to an organization as a whole, and working with management to put processes and procedures in place to protect employees.
What was the most important thing you learned or took away from the CP-12 training program? Leadership commitment is key. I remember then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. John Wickham's passion for and commitment to taking care of Soldiers. He saw both himself and commanders as the Army's safety officers and challenged leaders to develop a "sixth sense" about safety, essentially predicting unsafe behaviors and therefore preventing accidents. The CP-12 program was a good balance of classroom instruction, Army doctrine, technical safety and safety program management, but my most rewarding experience was spending my second year in Europe working in a tactical environment, supporting leaders and the military community.
Under the wing of two seasoned safety professionals where "the rubber meets the road," I was afforded many opportunities to apply the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to advance my career.
As a senior safety mentor, what do you try to inspire in younger safety mentees?
Safety is a very broad field, and even as a certified professional, you are not an expert in anything and everything. Therefore, know your strengths and weaknesses, continually seek educational opportunities and professional certifications as your career progresses, and develop strong partnerships.
Safety is more than slogans and compliance regulations. What is your safety philosophy? Safety impacts all parts of an organization, and collaboration is a must. Know your organization and its mission.
(In addition to her professional achievements, Segraves holds a Master of Science in Safety Management from West Virginia University, a Bachelor of Science in Health Science Education from Slippery Rock University, and the Certified Safety Professional credential.)