More questions for a 30-year safety professional
June 19, 2014
During National Safety Month 2014, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center has highlighted achievements and perspectives of members of the Army's first class of Career Program-12 safety interns, who finished training in 1984. Pamela Moore, safety director for Hawaii Gas in Honolulu, is the last intern profiled for this series.
What factors drew you to a career in safety?
In 1981, while completing my Bachelor of Science in Health Administration at Fairmont University in West Virginia, I took some elective safety courses that piqued my interest. Then, as a senior, I spent a semester interning in the safety department of an underground coal mine within the state. I found this work truly fascinating and even gained certification as a Mine Safety and Health Administration coal dust sampler. I hung air pumps on the miners to monitor dust exposure related to the ventilation systems' effectiveness. Spending time underground made me appreciate the numerous risks coal miners face every day, and years later, in October 2010, I sat in awe of the miracle of 33 Chilean miners emerging alive after spending 59 days trapped in a collapsed mine. I knew a safety career would never be boring, and I eventually earned a master's degree in safety management from West Virginia University.
What was the most important thing you learned or took away from the CP-12 training program?
Above all, safety must support the mission. Let's face it: Sometimes safety specialists are perceived as the "work prevention officer" -- if no one works, no one gets hurt. But that's not realistic, and our profession is about controlling or mitigating the risk inherent in every work task, not completely eliminating it.
As a senior safety mentor, what do you try to inspire in younger safety mentees?
Throughout my career, I've enjoyed mentoring junior safety professionals in my work for government agencies, private industry and insurance groups. I encourage mentees to read regulations (and their interpretations) to develop a sound knowledge base. I've also found the Board of Certified Safety Professionals credential to be invaluable, and I encourage all junior safety professionals to obtain this and other professional development opportunities. Finally, I encourage my mentees to be mobile, because this career field is in demand worldwide. After CP-12, I relocated to Germany, then back to CONUS, then spent five years in the South Pacific on Johnston Atoll. I wouldn't be in my position today without a good understanding of the cultural differences of our local work force, something I learned to appreciate during my travels and varied work experiences.
Safety is more than slogans and compliance regulations. What is your safety philosophy?
My safety philosophy revolves around building a sustainable safety culture within the organization. Safety, like all values, means something different to every worker. I'm a huge fan of the DuPont model of a progressive safety culture that moves from reactionary to interdependent. It starts by educating workers to embrace their personal safety values, then progressing to a team effort. Safety programs built on integrating safety into every step of their processes have proven successful. I've learned to keep attacking unsafe acts and conditions in the workplace, because if we eliminate them, injury and incident rates follow suit.