As part of #GPSafetyMonth, we’re highlighting employee Chris Brown, the Environmental Health and Safety Manager at our Dixie facility in Lexington, Kentucky. Chris, pictured on the right below, has experience working in health and safety roles at other GP mills including Big Island, Virginia, and Leaf River, Mississippi. In 2016, he received the National Safety Council's Rising Star of Safety award. Hear about how Chris approaches his current role at GP and his take on the psychology of safety.
Q: Why did you choose a career in safety?
A: My college counselor recommended I consider a safety-related career after showing interest in fire safety. Following his advice, I took some safety classes and I liked them. My senior year of college I met GP representatives at a career fair, and a few weeks later I joined GP's Entry Level Professional (ELP) program.
Q: What is the most important thing you do at work each day?
A: The most important thing I can do is interact with and work with employees on the floor. I try to build relationships with everyone here and continue to work towards reaching safety excellence every day. Once a relationship is established, it's much easier to talk with somebody about program requirements and processes.
Q: How do you help promote safety excellence at your facility?
A: There's a tremendous psychological aspect behind safety. Sometimes I ask people if they think we can go a full year without a safety incident, and they say "no." Then I ask if they think we can go one full day without an incident, and they say "yes."
It's easier to focus on one day, one shift at a time, versus an entire year. I want employees focused on today so they can leave the same way they came in. If we can reach safety excellence today, there's no reason we can't do it every day.
Q: Is there anything you or your team do differently when it comes to safety?
A: We have a Safe2Cross system – it's a way to separate pedestrians and mobile equipment where a pedestrian has to push a button to open a gate in certain areas. There's a drastic difference in how the facility looks in the areas where we have these systems. There's a difference in people's actions and body language. We are currently expanding this system across our facility in areas of greater risk with mobile equipment/pedestrian interaction.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: No two days are the same. Today I might be working on an environmental project, but tomorrow I may be focusing on an employee's concern. The next day might be a training course. The variety helps keep me on my toes.