Furniture manufacturing safety specialist named 2015 Professional of the Year by ISHM
Institute for Safety and Health Management (ISHM) announces the 2015 Safety Management Professional of the Year.
Stephanie Walsh, ASHM, Safety Specialist for Trendway Corp., a manufacturer of commercial office furniture and architectural products in Holland, Mich., was recognized for her caring, common sense, fun approach to safety improvement.
At right: Stephanie Walsh, ASHM, is honored by ISHM award review committee members (left to right) Joseph DeMaria, CSHM; John Principe III, CSHM, and Cory Worden, CSHM
Walsh, who earned an Associate Safety and Health Manager Designation upon completion of a four-year Occupational Safety Health Management degree, has been employed by Trendway for three years. The ASHM qualification provides a way for young professionals to put their career in EHS Management on fast-track. There’s no exam requirement and no application fee for graduates of ABET or Board Approved programs who apply within six months of graduation.
“Ms. Walsh has the wisdom of a more seasoned safety professional and the results she has attained are noteworthy and impressive,” said Joe DeMaria, Ph.D, CSHM, President and CEO of Americana Safety and chairman of ISHM’s award review committee.
55 percent fewer injuries
Despite her limited HSE management experience, Walsh has implemented a two-tier approach at Trendway that is credited with a 55 percent reduction in the company’s incident rate. Approximately 350 people are employed at Trendway’s 500,000 sq. ft. plant and shipping facility. Walsh is a one-woman department; enlisting the help of other managers and workers in every department is key to her success.
A Safety Steering Committee, consisting of management level representatives from Human Resources, Operations, Maintenance, and Security, meets regularly to review near misses, statistics, and discuss preventative measures. In order to expand the reach and communication of the Safety Steering Committee, Walsh implemented a Safety Agent Program, made up of 18 volunteer workers from production, shipping, and the office.
This cross-functional team meets twice a month to discuss specific safety concerns, such as electrical hazards or ergonomics issues, with those directly involved in day-to-day manufacturing and shipping activities. Safety agents are empowered to identify risks and to help devise solutions. They conduct safety audits and create safety education materials.
Walsh explains how the safety culture has changed at Trendway. “Before, not everyone was involved and safety was viewed as enforcement. I try to make it personal and engaging. We use the Actively Caring approach,” she said. That engagement happens regularly at quarterly training lunches in which safety agents teach a specific skill, such as proper secondary container labeling; at monthly dock meetings where workers are enlisted to demonstrate proper techniques; and daily on the shop floor.
Speaking up about safety
“Recently a safety agent spoke up as a plant tour led by our CEO was beginning to remind the group to wear safety glasses while in the manufacturing area,” said Walsh. That confidence speaks volumes about Trendway’s safety culture.
According to Mike Dean, Quality and CI Organizational Excellence Team Leader for Trendway, and Walsh’s principal nominator: “Stephanie takes a fresh, fun approach to occupational health and safety, but exhibits maturity beyond her years when it comes to the serious work of keeping people safe. I’ve been in manufacturing for 30 years and have never seen someone have the same level of impact on a company’s safety culture,” he said.
Walsh was honored at ISHM’s annual board meeting on Sept. 27, 2015 in Atlanta, Ga., prior to the 2015 National Safety Council Congress & Expo.
About ISHM and the Safety Management Professional of the Year Award
Institute for Safety and Health Management provides accredited certifications for Safety and Health Managers and Practitioners. It is the only HSE certification provider that focuses on the entire safety management process. It recognizes safety professionals for the education and experience they have gained and is widely accepted by Occupational Health and Safety Departments in General Industry, Construction, Oil and Gas, Utilities, Healthcare and Emergency Management markets.
The Safety management Professional of the Year was first developed by ISHM in 2011 to recognize safety managers who have had a significant impact on their company’s safety practices, policies and procedures, or who have demonstrated leadership and inspired others to lead.
Nominees must be current ASHM, CSMP, or CSHM certified. A principal nominator and two endorsements are required. Nominations are reviewed by an independent panel of judges. Past winners have represented Aerospace, Border Security, Gaming, and Healthcare industries.
Nominations for the 2016 Safety Management Professional of the Year can be made online. Visit www.ishm.org and click on the HSE Professionals tab.