Meet Our 2018 Safety Icons

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Recognizing and controlling exposure for self and others is not just a work mantra for Donnie Massey, Donny Owens and Kim Urie. It is a way of life. Their peers made that clear in the Icon award nominations we received for them. As a Behavioral Safety Specialist at Shell Oil, Massey's colleagues say his name is synonymous with that organization's behavior-based safety program and that he is always "challeng[ing] the status quo."

Owens is the Lead Safety and Training Coordinator at Owens Corning and his colleagues say he "has been instrumental in changing safety culture, building trust between union and management, increasing incident reporting and hazard recognition. Donny has been a major leader in all these areas."

Urie's peers at BASF Corporation couldn't say enough nice things about her work as Exposure Reduction Process Team Leader. They say, "With never-ending resolve, and exemplary leadership," Kim's guiding principle is always safety "and it has an infectious effect on everyone around her."

For all these reasons, DEKRA Organizational Safety & Reliability is proud to award these three our 2018 Safety in Action Icon awards! It is an award given to those who demonstrate - through their actions and/or influence - the principles of great leadership and dedication in workplace safety. They'll be given their awards at our Safety in Action Conference in March in Orlando, but you can find out more about them right now here:

What concepts drive your safety decisons at work?

SIA 2018 Icon Donnie MasseyDonnie Massey, Behavioral Safety Specialist, Shell Oil, (New Orleans, LA): I'm a firm believer in People First, Process Second. What that means is actually getting to know people first and establishing a relationship with them that helps build credibility when it comes to safety. I make it a point when I first arrive on any of our assets to go out and just talk to folks. Get to know them on a personal level. I don't go out and automatically start observing because that's my job. I go out and show them I care about them, their well-being and them getting home to their families.


SIA 2018 Icon Don OwensDonny Owens, Lead Safety and Training Coordinator, Owens Corning (Newark, OH): Do a mental pre-hazard analysis of each task you do or ask someone else to perform. Ask yourself these fundamental questions:

  1. "How can I get injured doing this?"
  2. "What can go wrong while I am doing this task?"
  3. "What can I touch that would hurt me?"
  4. "What can touch me?"

Also, apply these principles to your life outside of work as well. Whether you are doing yard work, changing a tire, or driving a vehicle that isn't an automobile. Look for hazards before they affect you.


SIA 2018 Icon Kim UrieKim Urie, Exposure Reduction Process Team Leader, BASF Corporation (Angleton, TX): The concept of a safe day as one when all workers go home in the same condition they arrived at work is no longer enough. While that's still the outcome we want, we focus on the decisions we make and the actions we take over the course of the day as well as the conditions of the workplace to determine how safe we really are.

Our new definition of safety is: recognizing and controlling exposure for self and others. It starts with the initial design and hazard analysis of the process, carries through to training and procedures and finally to the daily activities of workers. Single decisions impact our working environment for years to come and for that reason warrant multiple perspectives and long-term thinking.

Was there an event in your life that has focused you on workplace safety?

SIA 2018 Icon Donnie MasseyDonnie Massey: I don't think there was one single event that focused me on workplace safety. To me, it was just the fact of knowing that I'm working with a group of folks that need to get back home to their families safe and sound. Their families are depending on them to come back home just like the way they went out. Not on a Medivac flight, not getting a phone call saying their loved one is in a hospital somewhere. We have to take care of each other - no questions asked. We're out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. I think knowing that I need to be my brother's keeper is what helped me stay so focused on workplace safety.


SIA 2018 Icon Don OwensDonny Owens: A young man lost his life in our plant in a very preventable injury. I saw in the aftermath how it affected everyone. I had several fellow union workers come to my office and close the door to talk about what effect it had on them. Likewise, I saw how it affected the salary people. Especially his immediate supervisors. Both groups felt some level of responsibility for the loss. What if I had stopped him and talked about his safety more often? What if I had made sure he understood the expectations toward following safety procedures? It is very difficult to forget a life lost needlessly.


SIA 2018 Icon Kim UrieKim Urie: My dad was a mechanic at a tire manufacturing plant in Kansas - a humble man who doesn't draw attention to himself, but there was one story of which he is particularly proud. A coworker fell into a tire press, at the same time as inadvertently triggering the hydraulic press to close. Dad, who was working on a nearby machine at the time, recognized something was wrong and quickly responded to free his friend. Although the man was severely injured, he lived.

Most of us believe we will never be called on to take dramatic actions, not recognizing the importance of the little actions we take daily - encouraging someone to protect their eyes while collecting a chemical sample, installing tie off points, including Operators in hazard analyses, using proper lifting technique or speaking up when something isn't as it should be. When we connect enough simple actions like these, the result might very well be the factor that prevents a simple every-day task from turning into a disaster.

Safety has come a long way since my dad pulled his friend from a tire press. At the time of the incident I was a little girl, but I remember thinking it just wasn't right that someone could lose his life while performing his job. That's probably the point when I started thinking about protecting others and it's grown from there.

How do you keep that inspiration fresh each day on the job?

SIA 2018 Icon Donnie MasseyDonnie Massey: The way I keep my inspiration fresh has to be by being a good listener. I believe in being receptive to the feedback the field gives us as it pertains to our process. Some of the best ideas and best safety practices we've seen has come from those guys out there doing the work. I think if you get into a mindset of, "we know all the answers" because we're the specialist, that's when you start to create barriers for yourself and your process. Listening to those guys, utilizing other resources and putting action behind words is how I try to keep my inspiration for safety fresh.


SIA 2018 Icon Don OwensDonny Owens: As a senior employee at my facility (41 years), I am amazed at the safety culture that new employees begin with. They are told from day one that safety is the most important thing in the factory. They spend 40 hours in class before they see the floor. They begin with a culture that took us older folks years to develop. It is so much easier to keep a culture going when it is instilled from the start. I have learned from this to start each day with a fresh set of eyes. I walk the floor and try to see the process and the possible hazards as if it were my first day.


SIA 2018 Icon Kim UrieKim Urie: My greatest inspiration comes from the people I get to work with. Our team is currently working with 70 sites, implementing our Exposure Reduction Process. The Observation Process Facilitators have formed a Community of Practice that serves as a "think tank" to share ideas and develop leadership skills. Sites that were previously seen as underachievers have found tremendous success and are proudly showing others what is possible through safety culture change. Our Implementation Leaders (who DEKRA calls "InCons") passionately pour themselves into their work, and senior leaders are considering how their decisions and behaviors impact others throughout the organization. It's a good day when we help others have "aha moments" that motivate them to do something different that positively impacts safety culture.

What advice would you give to the next generation of safety icons?

SIA 2018 Icon Donnie MasseyDonnie Massey: The best advice I can give the next generation is to do it for the right reasons. Don't go out and observe because that's what you're being told to do. Go out and look out for your co-worker because you sincerely care about him/her getting back home to their families. People see sincerity. They can tell when you're just checking the box or if you do something because you CARE. It's about commitment vs. compliance. Doing it because it's the right thing to do even when no one is around. That's when you build a culture of CARE. A culture of people looking out for each other for the right reasons. Always put people first, that's the best advice I could give the next generation.


SIA 2018 Icon Don OwensDonny Owens: Remember that each safety procedure or safety alert you write, each process or designed safety review you are involved in, and each management of change you take a part in affects a group of people. Take time to look at each and ask yourself:

  • Would I be comfortable doing this task with these safeguards?
  • Will this procedure force someone to work at risk to complete their task?
  • Is there a safeguard they can defeat that will allow them to complete the task easier or quicker? (because if there is they will find and employ it)

If you ever worked on the floor, remember how it felt to have to do the tasks you are asking others to complete and, if not, observe the task and find the safest and easiest way to do it. Above all, always explain why changes are needed and cover all employees. Even if they are upset by the changes, they will accept it better when it is explained. Remember to go back and ask what other changes are needed and what new hazards have appeared.


SIA 2018 Icon Kim UrieKim Urie: Simon Sinek said, "If you have the opportunity to do amazing things in your life, I strongly encourage you to invite someone to join you."

Surround yourself with people who think big and are willing to take small steps together toward things you believe in. If your procedures are too complicated, bounce around ideas with others to simplify the first one and keep going. Maybe it's ineffective training (grab a coworker and a GoPro and make hands-on training videos) or leaders who are absent in the field (schedule walking meetings in the plant). Be generous with success feedback when you start seeing incremental changes. Whatever it is, take action and bring others along.