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#7: I’m letting everybody know our secrets.

August 8, 2018 | 1 hour 2 seconds

Series host Jill James speaks with her former colleague and friend of 20+ years “Dr. Todd”, the man who inspired the podcast!

Certified Safety Professional (CSP) Todd explains the moment that moved him away from the academic pursuit of chemical engineering, which led him to interviewing with OSHA and a career that involved working some of the same investigations as our own Jill James. This conversation covers why you shouldn’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call OSHA for help, where to get formal safety education, and shares about a dozen other credible sources of go-to safety info for people at any career stage.

You’ll get tips for one of safety’s most active mentors—Dr. Todd is Wisconsin-Whitewater’s department Coordinator of Internships and Fieldwork—and learn what’s in store for the next generation of occupational safety pros from the guy who wrote the book on Safety Leadership and Professional Development.

Bonus? Dr. Todd talks about OSHA’s “$1000 poster”, OSHA’s Field Operations Manual, and other secrets known to OSHA investigators (the “drive-by”).

Transcript

Jill:

This is The Accidental Safety Pro brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health and Safety Institute Episode Number 7. My name is Jill James, Vivid's Chief Safety Officer and today, I'm joined by Dr. Todd Loushine who is Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Coordinator of Internships and Fieldwork in The Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health Department. Welcome, Todd.

Todd:

Thank you, Jill. Great to be here.

Jill:

For our listeners today, we should probably let them know and disclose the fact that you and I know each other and we've known each other for a really long time which either makes us feel really old or I'm not sure what else but it's been over 20 years Todd that you and I have known each other.

Todd:

Yeah, 24 years.

Jill:

It just so happens that we've known one another longer than our respective spouses and partners.

Todd:

Right.

Jill:

We met professionally a long time ago when we were both in our 20s and we're clearly not in our 20s anymore.

Todd:

Not even close.

Jill:

Todd, I wanted to let the audience know that the inspiration and idea behind this podcast, The Accidental Safety Professional actually came from your head. It was an idea that you shared with our focus group here at Vivid Learning Systems a number of months ago. You were talking about how we don't necessarily have an opportunity to get to talk with one another professionally very often unless we're at a conference or something and how … you're thinking of how could we share information with each other professionally and you suggested a podcast. Then yeah, remember?

Todd:

Right. The whole premise of it is one, I have a long commute. I commute 45, 50 minutes each way and I'm just listening to talk radio. It would be nice … I know that audio books are becoming very popular and I just thought it would be really nice if … to freshen itself, we have a few conferences we can go to. We have LinkedIn of course but to be able to hear what other people are going through, hear their ideas because that's one of the biggest questions that comes out of a lot of the meetings which we have, two-way communication is could you … we want to know what's working for you or what issues you've resolved in order to become successful because everybody feels like they're reinventing the wheel.

Jill:

Absolutely, we do. It's always because we're usually the solo operator wherever it is that we're working. Out of that idea for the podcast, you and I were talking about how we often are asking safety professionals how they got into the practice accidentally. What you've always called it is the incidental safety professional which was actually a topic of a keynote that you gave, what was that, a year or two ago?

Todd:

It may have been three years now. Time is irrelevant when you get this old.

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

Yeah, it's available … Maybe it's not available online but I think people could watch it through my LinkedIn page. I think I have a link to it. If not, I can definitely make that available but it's about defining the profession. Who are we? We really don't know who we are and it's interesting to read what people post or listen to people present at conferences or meetings. There are some commonalities but if we compare ourselves as a profession to other more traditional professions, sovereign profession like law, medicine, things like that, we don't have the same requirements in order to practice. We're very much a … Today, I think I'm going to do some safety work and I think that detracts from what the people who have been in this field and gone through the formal education, gone through certification, have come to learn but there is success to be found anywhere when it comes to safety because we're just preventing bad things from happening so I think that's what we want to talk about today is for those of you who are listening who didn't … who fell into it and what's funny is I remember back when I started, I was doing a presentation with Todd. You remember Todd in consultation?

Jill:

Yes, I do.

Todd:

He said to a group, "Someone called me the other day for assistance on developing a safety program", because I just became a safety person. His immediate response was, "What did you do wrong?" That always carried with me that geez, how did you come in today? It's usually someone who just cares and they want to help and maybe they came up with an idea and management recognize that so therefore, they want that person to come up with more ideas but was it chance or is it something intrinsic to the person to protect others and to have the ingenuity to come up with work solutions, training ideas, whatever it might be to help mitigate those exposures that result in injury?

Jill:

You have your story, your recollection of a fellow coworker, Todd on what did you do wrong and my recollection is numbers of people want to ask them how they got their job. They would sometimes answer, "I got hurt." I got hurt more than once and my boss finally looked at me and said, "You must know how to prevent this. Now, congratulations you're the safety person." The injured person moniker. You and I didn't come into the practice that way and I'm interested for you to share your story about how you became an incidental safety pro yourself way back when. What was your journey?

Todd:

We want to go way to the beginning. At the beginning of time, there was no-

Jill:

Stone tablets.

Todd:

Right. Exactly. I went to college because … to study engineering. I love solving problems. I was always been a problem solver. All my life, want to fix things, want to see how things worked. I fell into chemical engineering as my degree program. I thought, it sounds cool, and I did get to find out how a lot of things work and how to design things. I enjoyed it but there was one lecture in which they talked about some case studies and it was the refinery explosion, Texas City, Texas. I can't remember the year. When I heard that, I immediately … that day, I decided I don't want to be a chemical engineer because I don't want to blow anything up so I pursued in emphasis in environmental engineering so I took all kinds of courses on pollution control whether it's through a stack, whether it's through a water stream, whether it's hazardous materials and I was expecting to work for … In Minnesota, they have the Pollution Control Agency which is kind of the state equivalent of the EPA. That's what I wanted to do. That's the Environmental Protection Agency. I should spell out acronyms, but in getting on the state list to interview for the PCA, Minnesota OSHA also draws from that list and although I went through a couple interviews with the PCA and was expecting a call for a possible position, OSHA called and they said, "Do you want an interview?" You don't say no when somebody says you want an interview especially in 1994 when the job market was not good.

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

They showed me all these tools I get to use because I was interviewing for an industrial hygiene engineer position. They train chemical engineers to do that work. It's a natural transition and I got excited. I thought it would be pretty cool to carry a badge and tell people to jump and make them cry.

Jill:

We didn't really do that.

Todd:

People cry.

Jill:

Maybe so.

Todd:

We didn't tell them to jump but they did cry.

Jill:

That's true. Yeah, that's true.

Todd:

[crosstalk 00:07:25] just incidentally. What's interesting too is I actually had, the same day, I got the offer. I actually had accepted a consulting job, helping a company pursue ISO 9001. It was interesting, so I had two things going on at once but once the consulting job wrapped up, I actually … I loved working for OSHA. I really did. You learn something new every day. You get to see so many different companies and you really feel like you're making a difference but there was a time later in my career. I spent one year out in private industry as a product manager where I built a lot of my business and sales and marketing and finance skills but when I came back, there was a complaint that I went on and it was a small machine shop. Essentially a guy's pole barn in his backyard. The owner was the safety director, was the HR director, was the maintenance guy, he was everybody. He has staff of like, nine and I asked for the safety programs to have none. I asked, "Do you keep logs?" Nope. No poster. The $1,000 poster as we call it?

Jill:

Yup. Yup.

Todd:

I said, "Let's go to the walkround because there's nothing to look at here." There are hazards. There's lack of guarding, they had created their own spray booth, violated most of the standard but what I noticed is is the owner knew everybody's name and knew something personal about them. When I separated to go talk to the workers, I found out they knew there were issues, they just didn't put their hand where the harm was. Nobody had been hurt in their full operation, like 10 years. That was interesting. No complaints whatsoever, a lot of safety. Interesting. Two days later, I go to a fortune 100 company on a complaint and the safety director is very well-known, their safety programs are immaculate. I think they actually gave off some sort of aura because they were so divine.

Jill:

Shiny.

Todd:

Right. This person is super well-known. We go out to the area where the complaint is and it's clean. I don't see any issues. I said, "Excuse me for a second. I'm going to go talk to these workers just so I can close out my report", and this is going to be what we used to term a drive by. I'm letting everybody know our secrets. These workers just went off. This is the worst place ever. They hide things. They make us do stuff. Now, I didn't have any evidence for citations but that experience where full safety but workers are complaining and saying they're getting hurt versus no safety, workers are saying, "We don't get hurt", really confounded my view of our practice. That's when I really set myself on a path to go to graduate school to learn about the social, the psychological side of safety.

Jill:

Makes so much sense and you're so right about the observations we're able to make in that job. Just so the audience understand, where you and I met was at Minnesota OSHA as investigators in our 20s and we were able to work together on investigations sometimes and yeah, you just did let out a little bit of secrets. I don't know that I ever made anybody personally cry, I'm not sure. I know I got a lot of red, like flushing in the face, that kind of thing. People cried during fatality investigations but anyway, yeah, your observation is so 100% correct. After being in over 500 workplaces, you get to make these observations and sometimes, they hit you right in the face and stick with you forever. That prompted you to take your next leap and go back to school.

Todd:

It did. Again, I think my life is just a story of fortune and luck but I did take a few courses at the University of Minnesota while I was working at the consultation side. It wasn't what I needed though. It was more of the transportation, extreme environments, human factor studies that I wanted more organizational design and management and social psychology, stuff like that. My adviser connected me with Dr. Michael Smith at UW-Madison and I went down there and met with him and he convinced me to pursue a doctorate and I said yes so I packed up the car and drove to Madison and it was one of the greatest six and a half years of my life to be able to really learn, really develop the skillset. For people who don't know and I think a lot of people don't know what the whole pursuit of a PhD is, it's to answer the question regularly, what I don't know, I don't know. I thought I knew safety. I thought it was awesome. This kid knows what he's doing but when I got there, I couldn't just say, "Based on my experience, this is what I know." I would have to reference some form of research or a technical publication or something and possibly argue for its validity, its reliability. Through that exercise which was painful, it's not easy for everybody. I'm mentoring graduate students now in their master's level and they do struggle. They have ideas but when it gets to the point where you really have to argue, defend, debate your viewpoint which you collected and its interpretation, that's when you start realizing, I have to be more careful. I took all kinds of methods courses and stats courses and it's through replication, trial and error and failure that you become a scientist and through that experience, they award you with the doctor of the PhD. That's what it really comes down to. Anybody who rushes to complete a doctorate, you got to realize, it's not the degree itself, it's the pain, it's the enjoyment, it's the revelations that you go through in the pursuit of it that makes you become a scientist. I think that's the important distinction that people need to hear about.

Jill:

Right. Your PhD is in human factors?

Todd:

It's industrial engineering but you're correct.

Jill:

Industrial engineering?

Todd:

Yeah. The emphasis was human factors but then I spread my wings and studied quality management through the business school there. I studied social inquiry through the sociology department. I learned research methods and statistics through the psychology department. It was more of a diverse degree than anything else. I was located within the industrial engineering department but I was all over campus.

Jill:

For people listening who are thinking or maybe they're already on their path to earn a PhD, first of all, I'm going to just guess and you probably know this Mr. Scientist that I'm guessing there aren't very many PhDs practicing in safety right now. If there are, what sort of focuses have you seen? Ones that are very similar to yours or really different?

Todd:

Very similar. Industrial engineering is really the design of work so that's how I practice safety. I practice it from the study of the design of work, the worker, how they interact with management, the technologies that are forwarded to them, what they expect, different tasks, things like that but other PhDs, maybe industrial engineering but maybe focus on more of the human factor's ergonomic side.

Jill:

Sure.

Todd:

There are doctorates in industrial hygiene. They practice in safety. There are some scientific doctorates and some educational doctorates that maybe focus more on the educational aspects of it but they do have the components of being able to do research. It tends to be more towards the engineering education management type doctorates that allow people … give people the access to either teaching or researching in safety but then, the life of an academic is you're not paid as well as if you're in a private industry. Let's just say that. I don't want to go too far into it but yeah.

Jill:

Like government work?

Todd:

Right. Exactly. Yeah. The reward comes through the experience and freedom, not how big your paycheck is.

Jill:

Right. Right. When I briefly described you as my friend and your professional practice, I often say that you're growing the safety professionals of tomorrow through your work at the university right now. You have this unique take on the profession based on the history and kind of what you've seen and the practitioners who are practicing safety many of us accidental, many of us without necessarily a formal background so I'm wondering if maybe we could talk with our audience today and share some stories about, maybe if you just got that job dumped in your lab and you don't have a background in it, what certificates are out there or what pursuit could someone who's just starting out right now, who wants to know more, how could they do some self-education or maybe what could their employer do to help support them?

Todd:

That's a really great question. I think that's one that a lot of people struggle with. You don't have to have a degree to practice. You don't have to have a certification to practice. I just want to get that out there, it's not a legal requirement.

Jill:

Yes.

Todd:

Now, it is against the law to claim you have those things and you don't so keep that in mind as well but I tell my students, I don't see what I do as filling their heads with facts and data. I train them the same way I was trained as both an engineer and a scientist. It's through an application of the learning technique and through frequent reflection of what you're doing, trying to apply it that you become a better thinker, a better problem solver. Let's get that out right away that to practice in safety, one, you need to really care about people. Two, you need to be an active problem solver. From there, how can people gain more knowledge? I also tell my students, "Your net worth is your network. You need to know people. You need to get involved." Isn't that kind of funny?

Jill:

So correct. That is so awesome.

Todd:

Right. You and I both know, if we have a question, we know who to contact, right?

Jill:

That's right.

Todd:

We know who the experts are and therefore, trying to practice safety in a vacuum is, man, that would be really frustrating I can imagine but there may be people here on this podcast listening thinking, yeah, that's what I do. I'm trying to read the standards on my own or trying to find out what's going on. You need access to the profession and everybody who's a true professional gives unselfishly. Just get involved with … Look and see if you have a local safety council group because a lot of … Each state has their own safety council and then there are usually local safety councils. There may be local chapters of ASSP, whatever safety group you can get involved with and start with local because face to face is always better.

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

We have the national ones as well or international. You may not feel like you belong because, look at all these professionals. No. It's okay. It's really okay to reach out to people. LinkedIn has been great for that too.

Jill:

It really have.

Todd:

I phoned a lot of guest speakers for my courses through LinkedIn. Go ahead Jill.

Jill:

Yeah. There's so many safety groups on LinkedIn. I probably belong to 20 different safety groups on LinkedIn. The magic part of that is you can post a question and safety professional chime in and they offer advice or they'll offer an asset or direction and lots of them. I think that's right now, one of the fastest ways for us to get information.

Todd:

Right. I just want everybody to know too. Safety is not an algorithmic, if then, do A, do B, do C, practice. I think people think that. Can you send me the border plate of a respiratory protection program? Not really. You got to build it yourself. I was thinking about this the other … Yesterday, I was rebuilding the built-in seating on my deck. My kids were like, "Why is it taking you so long?" Because I have to make the cuts based on what the angles are of the previous layout. It has to be customized. It's through trial and error. I take a measure, I make a cut. That wasn't right. Maybe I have to grab a new board or maybe I have to shave a little bit off. They wondering why I was cutting a board, 8, 9, 10 times. It's so it fits what I'm given. I want everybody to understand that too that the way that safety needs to be practiced at your workplace may be very different than what your neighbor practices. I believe a truly successful safety program has to be built within through iterative improvements, through trial and error. You can't just buy a safety program.

Jill:

Right. Right. We're getting our ideas, we're talking with people within our network about how people … so you don't have to reinvent the wheel and you can use those things as your framework as your guide so that you're not starting from square one. In addition to contacting your network and building a network, what other tips for someone who's just getting started and is looking for where to educate themselves?

Todd:

Sure. There are a lot of great resources out there and hashtag shameless plug. Vivid has very good offering so is HSI who's a parent company. Don't be afraid to call your local OSHA office with questions if you have a specific interpretation question. Don't be afraid to contact if you're close to a university, you can contact faculty there but let's talk about the certificates and specialized training.

Jill:

Yeah. Todd, before you jump into that, let's dispel that myth about don't call OSHA. Let's talk about that for just a second because I think that's a really good tip that people don't often think about because they're scared to call a government regulatory office out of fear that it's going to trigger an inspection. Do you want to maybe talk about how that works?

Todd:

Yeah because they have a mainline. Every office is a mainline or I think through the website, you might be able to submit questions now. I don't know.

Jill:

Yeah I think you can.

Todd:

You could just state what your question is about and the operator or the receptionist who answers the phone will direct you to a compliance officer that that's their expertise. Depending on the question and how customized it is, they may not be able to give you a specific answer but they can give you a general answer and I get a lot of answers that way that the gist of the standard means this so therefore, this is what you need to do. It's not like they have caller ID or a GPS so they're not going to say, "I know where you are", and be right there. You're just asking a question. I think that's a good thing to do. People shouldn't be afraid of OSHA. They should appreciate what it provides us, what it provides the public and use it for goodness' sake. Certain states have different programs where you can actually get grants to pursue safety corrections.

Jill:

Yeah. Those are great tips. The act of making a phone call or sending an email doesn't give the investigators what's called probable cause and so they could never trigger an inspection based on that. Now, if you're calling to file a complaint or report a fatality, that's a different story but always feel free to contact your local OSHA office. Please continue. You started to talk about certificates.

Todd:

Sure. Let's start with probably the most basic and everybody has heard of the OSHA 10 and the OSHA 30. They have them for general industry and they have them for construction. My view of these certifications are an employee is the 10, a supervisor is the 30. If you're a safety coordinator, it's a good idea to possibly pursue the 30. That's going to give you some basic knowledge and if you have a workforce that needs to make more decisions on the fly that could protect themselves, requiring them to take the OSHA 10 is a good thing as well and there are different opportunities I believe also again hashtag shameless plug Vivid has access to certain things. I don't mean to do that. These are just coming up. I don't mean to do it that way but they can look locally to see if there's OSHA technical institute, an OTI near them and there are different agencies or companies now that provide that kind of training. That's one option. I just wanted to get that one out there because people always ask me, "What's the difference between the two? What does it mean?"

Jill:

No, I think that's good and you can now take the course online from an authorized provider and you're correct, our company is an authorized provider and people can take them in person as well.

Todd:

Right. I want to build off of the networking things we had talked about earlier that joining a local network or group, they tend to have monthly meetings where they bring in speakers and that's a good way to start … First of all, finding out who the experts are in your area but then to learn something and almost every state has at least an annual, if not a biannual safety conference that you can go to. Then there are national events. I just got back from the ASSP national event in San Antonio and it was an amazing experience. I think there were … I didn't even count but during the concurrent sessions, I think you would choose between, I don't know, maybe 15 to 20 different speakers and let's say there may be four of those a day for three days. You can count those speakers. That's a lot of different topics. Going to one event like that, if you can afford the travel and time away from work, you're going to get a tremendous amount of information. Then also, it's information that you can … usually, they give you access to presentations from the ones you didn't make it to and so you have access to a lot of information there but you have to organize it, collate it yourself.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

Beyond that, there are the professional certifications. Those are tests or exams you can sit down for. The gold standard, I think pretty much, everybody knows this, The Certified Safety Professionals, the CSP is what a lot of people see it as, it's offered through The Board of Certified Safety Professionals or BCSP. That's what a lot of professionals are working toward but they just made an announcement, I believe a month ago, maybe two months ago tops that they are transitioning to you have to have a bachelor's degree in order to earn the CSP. That's something that's new.

Jill:

Interesting.

Todd:

Yeah.

Jill:

Okay.

Todd:

People who do not have the bachelor's right now have to complete some sort of online educational course through BCSP in order to maintain their certification.

Jill:

Interesting.

Todd:

Yeah.

Jill:

Todd, you had mentioned ASSP a second ago and I think let's circle back to that just for a second to make … in case people who are listening are going, "What's that?" because there was recently a name change. The American Society of Safety Engineers just went through a renaming convention for themselves and are now called The American Society of Safety Professionals. Todd, can you … I don't know if you can speak to this, you likely can. Can anyone be a member of ASSP?

Todd:

As far as I know, yes. I'm glad you brought that up. Let's even rewind a little bit more. If you're listening to this, you should be familiar with something called the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911 because it was that event in New York City that set off the start of the American Society of Safety Engineers but I think they were called the casualty inspectors or something at that time.

Jill:

Something like that. I believe that our first Labor Secretary Frances Perkins worked for that entity that you're talking about.

Todd:

Right. Also at the same time, National Safety Council came to be. That was a significant event. If anybody here is listening and they're like, "I don't know what that is", if you go to YouTube and you search for the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, look for the documentary created by … It's like the PBS American Experience. I know they tried to take it down but we'll keep posting it. Thank you by the way for the people who do that. It's about an hour long. Watch that.

Jill:

Wonderful.

Todd:

It's very profound.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

There are all kinds of other documentaries about how disasters led to important things like these societies, these agencies that we rely on quite heavily but also, some of the standards that are on as well.

Jill:

Right. I always think of this Triangle Shirtwaist fire as the birthplace of our current life safety quotes.

Todd:

Right. Exactly. There's the Bhopal incident, there was Chernobyl, the Deepwater Horizon, all these things have given way to bringing the importance back to environmental safety and health and the need for standards and regulations so back to ASSE turning to ASSP. This was a historic event. The society is changing. It's evolving and it's … that's why I think this event that I attended in San Antonio was so important, it was historical name change. There is a new focus. They're expanding their offerings. I'm going to … shameless plug again, I'm the incoming Vice President on the Council of Professional Development and one of the things from my platform is to make training and education so resources more readily available through audio, through video, through digital means and I would like to make it easier for people who are just coming into the profession with no degree, no knowledge to have access to the basic knowledge. The things that maybe you and I take for granted sometimes but we don't because you and I talk about it so often. The basic skills. Where do you start in building a safety program?

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

It starts with auditing. It starts with recordkeeping. It starts with basic training but by providing resources, case studies, evidence, where people can start, I think we can actually provide a greater good just by making that kind of information available, things that a lot of people who have been in the field for 15, 20, 25 years maybe take for granted.

Jill:

Right. Right. Todd, as you and I talking, it's occurring to me that we're giving people ideas of sourcing, places that they can go to find information like we're just citing ASSP right now. You cited National Safety Council earlier. We've dropped a few other names but when people are doing their own, let's say just a simple Google search and they're trying to research a particular topic on safety or look for safety programs, do you have any advice as a researcher on what pitfalls they should avoid just to be careful by way of sourcing so they're not getting bad information?

Todd:

Yeah. I don't want to point out any of the bad sources-

Jill:

Right but what should people look for? By way of just your … As a professor, what would you tell your students if you're researching something? What do you look for in a source?

Todd:

One is I don't accept Wikipedia as a source.

Jill:

Yeah. Right.

Todd:

You can use that to direct you to another source but peer-reviewed work is of course the most reliable in that somebody has actually written something or done a study or talked about experience, whatever it might be, a case study is also research and it's been reviewed by other experts and they've deemed it acceptable. Those are very reliable. When people blog, you got to look and find out who the person is.

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

Do they have the experience, the knowledge, the skillsets, the abilities in order to generate that type of information?

Jill:

Or were they a writer for some kind of company and they have no idea they were just writing to get words on a website?

Todd:

Yeah. I myself subscribe to a lot of different weekly electronic newsletters and I use them just to gauge. It's more like a thermometer for me in where things are going. I don't really read them and go, this is brand new but every once in a while, they bring up a topic or provide a reference to something that I wouldn't have otherwise heard about.

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

You got to take everything with a grain of salt or a teaspoon of sugar [inaudible 00:30:49] go down but as far as is it verifiable? That's when you then go to your network. Your network can verify certain things so that's why I would say.

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

Let's just also talk about the OSHA website.

Jill:

That's what I was going to say. That's where I start always.

Todd:

Me too. It's an indispensable source of great information but it's also a labyrinth that you and I know about. Remember, I had tried to create a tour video for my students and that is also on YouTube but there's so much more to it. Actually, just the other day Jill, someone contacted me out of the blue because they are consultant and they believe that one of their equipment suppliers lied to them or didn't tell them the whole truth and so I went and found the letter of interpretation and we talked about it and I looked through the standard itself and found where the issues were and we talked about it. He sent me some pictures and we resolved the issue. It maybe took me 15 minutes of time online to get those resources for him and I talked to him on the phone for like 15 minutes. It can be that easy if you know the right people. You and I both know, somebody goes, "How do I interpret the standard?" I go to lawyers of interpretation. I'm sorry I do, or can OSHA do this? I go to the field operations manual.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

I don't try to guess things. I actually look to what it is and sometimes, I get corrected. I'm on a first name basis with all the local area office directors.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

I can call them, they can call me and they do sometimes with how things are going. It's developing those relationships that make those resources more readily available.

Jill:

Right. Exactly. When we're talking about the OSHA website in general, Todd, you're alluding to the fact that it's a labyrinth, it is very complicated to weed your way through if you're not understanding how to read the standards, number one. Then I just wanted to point out that when you and I say the word standard because we were burst into this OSHA thing as 20 years old, standard also means regulation so if somebody is listening and going, "What are they talking about standard?" Standard, regulation, same thing basically. When you're mentioning interpretations, it means that for most of the regulations or standards that were written, there's been employers like anybody listening going, "What the heck do they mean?" So somebody submitted a question, OSHA responded and all of their response are archived so you're able to search those on the OSHA website to see like, "What did somebody else asked? I can't be the first person who's ever looked this up." When Todd is talking about the field operations manual, it means that OSHA is really transparent so the directions that they give their investigators on how they need to pursue particular aspects of inspections, they're all available for anybody to read so the field operations manual is really that instruction book for an investigator so you can read that too and it's all on their website.

Todd:

Right. You can look up the citation packages the company has ever received. You can see the inspection history for specific companies. We didn't even mention the compliance memos, the standard memos, the tactical and education memos. There are all kinds of different things that we know because we actually had the paper version of these things before the internet was born.

Jill:

We did. For anybody listening, all of these volumes of things, when you work for OSHA, when we started out, yes, Todd said it was all paper and it was so if you've ever been to an auto parts store in the way back where they have like the big paper auto parts book that stretches maybe 4 feet or 5 feet across the counter and people are looking at parts, that literally what we had on our desks except it wasn't auto parts, it was instructions on how to do our job from every angle possible. All of that lives on the OSHA website. If you wanted to really get into reading, you could probably teach yourself how to be an investigator in five years it takes to read all that stuff or whatever it is.

Todd:

Right. For my classes and for some consulting work I do, I do a mock OSHA audit and I've actually replicated the citation packet just like they have online and can build it the same way so that both my students and any customers can see what it's like because that's one of the biggest questions, what happens if OSHA shows up? I can tell you exactly what's going to happen and how to properly prepare and that a safety program is not a binder that sits on a shelf, it's a living document. What I'm going to give you is a set of things you need to do to start evolving towards your customized safety program.

Jill:

That's right. That's right. We took that little offshoot there for a moment to delve into our OSHA history. If people are listening and thinking, gosh, Jill, Todd, could you do another podcast just on OSHA stuff? Let us know because I think we'd both say yes to that but continuing on with how can you self-educate and then going up from there if people want to continue pursuing, educating themselves or a certificate or what if they want to go to college? What does all that look like as people are working in this field?

Todd:

Sure. I'm just going to bring up two more references and that is the NIOSH website is full of great information.

Jill:

Good.

Todd:

NIOSH is now under the CDC so www.cdc.gov\niosh stands for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Great information there. That's my secondary. Then I also play around on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Jill:

Yeah, me too.

Todd:

Just looking at entry … I was on it the other day for like 45 minutes because now, their reports aren't just in PDF and HTML, they're in Excel so they actually share data with you so you can actually really break it down yourself if you need to so I find that stuff interesting.

Jill:

Those are really good resources. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, if anybody is wondering, if you want to compare like your type of industry to other industries like you based on your particular NAICS or SIC code, Standard Industrial Classification Code, you can look that all up on the Bureau of Labor Statistics and you can search by your state. There's lots of different ways to search. If you're looking for data like how do we stack up like you're trying to prove it to your employer like, how are we doing compared to everybody else like every other industry or industries exactly like you or industries in your state. All of that information is available on the BLS' website.

Todd:

Right. Not just that, we could talk work comp too. Each data has their own work comp system. In Wisconsin, we have the Department of Workforce Development and the Wisconsin Rating Credit … The Credit Rating Bureau that it's interesting in BLS. You see that more companies are seeing the value in early return to work programs and medical management that the incidence rate, the transfer restriction incidence rate is higher for a private industry than the local and state government numbers only for that one particular statistic. We're not going to get into it here but people should know that if you're not working with your healthcare providers in both pre and post injuries, you are losing money. Okay.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

Where were we going? We're going to go-

Jill:

We were going … You were talking about certificate programs and then leading into, someone wants to go to college, what would they pursue? Where would they go and how far can they take it?

Todd:

Right. There are different companies and agencies like the OSHA Technical Institute where you can go to like a one-day, two-day, five-day seminar or class and get an actual certificate. A piece of paper that says you attended. Now those don't necessarily mean you've taken exam at the end to show you've learned something, it's just you sat through it.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

Those are certificates.

Jill:

They're also by topic so if people listening are wondering like, "What sort of a certificate could I get?" Myself, I have been to the OSHA Training Institute and taken like a week-long course on scaffolding. Everything about scaffolding, scaffolding, safety, same thing with excavation, same thing with machine guarding, lots of different topics. I'm sorry to interrupt. Go ahead Todd.

Todd:

No. You're absolutely correct. I'm glad you brought that up. If you go to certain conferences or seminars either locally or nationally, sometimes you can get continuing education units or CEUs which is something … That may not be important to you right now but when you get a certification or a license or a designation, when you actually have to sit for an exam and then every four or five years, indicate that you're still continuing training, then that's when a stuff becomes very important.

Jill:

Yeah, or if you want to use it to pursue the next job.

Todd:

Right. Exactly.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

I have my professional engineering license, I've got my CSP designation, I've got my CIH designation so I have to go through a lot of continuing ed and track that stuff to make sure and demonstrate that not only did I pass the exam years ago but I still earn it. I can still practice and I've kept up. That's something people need to keep in mind. Now as far as, we've got the certificates you can get through specialized training, there are different types of degrees available out there and I'm going to give you my opinion on this. People don't understand the difference between national and regional accreditation. There are all kinds of different accrediting … educational accrediting boards out there. What I've been told, what I've learned and what I've read is that regional accreditation is a little bit more stringent so your land-grant universities tend to be regionally accredited. They've gone out of their way to be reviewed and to meticulously demonstrate that they're meeting and exceeding those guidelines whereas national I've heard is a little bit looser.

Jill:

Okay.

Todd:

It's not as transparent, it's not as difficult. When you see these ads … Also, if you see a lot of ads, flashy ads, question it. They're trying to sell you on something. They're trying to convince you, "Spend your money here. It's a lot less than these other things", but you get what you pay for. That means we were taught that when we were kids and it's so true that something that's easy to acquire probably isn't as valuable as something that requires commitment and time and money. That's kind of the rule of thumb. Buyer beware that … let me backtrack one second. Any education is better than none.

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

If you can't afford the time or have the resources to go to one of these regionally accredited programs and put in the time and effort, if online is all you can do, good enough. At least, it's something to help you practice. Now also, you may get into it and try it and say, "You know what, I can get this stuff on my own." Maybe it's not worth your time and that's fine too but those regionally accredited programs hear your issues. We hear you and we are attempting to provide … make ourselves more available to you but again, it's still going to have the rigor of the classroom. When you take an online class, that puts a lot of the responsibility, a lot of the onus on the learner itself. It's kind of the difference between working out at home and going to the gym. When you go to the gym, there's other people working out, you have a greater variety of equipment and you're already there. Might as well sweat. When you're at home, I could have a piece of chocolate cake and watch my show or I think on the exercise bike. The exercise bike has all my clothes hanging on it so let's just get … You see what I mean?

Jill:

Yes.

Todd:

It takes a lot more self-discipline to do something on your own but again, the land-grant regionally accredited universities are attempting to find new ways to somehow simulate that through online delivery but it's taking us time.

Jill:

Yeah and you're doing it right now. You offer online classes for your students.

Todd:

I do. Yeah. I do require us to do … I'd like to do, not face to face but virtual face to face and I'm efforting that right now but everybody has different schedules which is why the online, the asynchronous delivery is so valuable to people who are busy and can't do the travel and can only do their homework from 9:00 to 11:00 on a Thursday but I do try to go talk to each student individually to ensure that they're learning but also to pry out any questions that they've held back.

Jill:

Right. Right. Todd, are you aware of any two-year degree programs in safety?

Todd:

Yes. Yes. You can look to the technical colleges. Some community colleges do. I know that there's one here in Wisconsin up. I think it's the Fox Valley Technical College or something. They have a two-year … I know that there's an accredited two-year in Denver or somewhere in Colorado. You just have to look around.

Jill:

Yeah. If people are looking for a two-year college program, what keywords would they use in colleges? What they look for? Occupational health and safety or what keywords if they're doing a search?

Todd:

I would use occupational health and safety, yes.

Jill:

Okay.

Todd:

You're probably not going to have the E, the environmental in a two-year.

Jill:

Okay.

Todd:

It's going to be occupational safety. Sometimes, they call it emergency management. I'm not sure what else they call it, industrial safety possibly, safety management may be one as well but again, it's buyer beware and I always look at the people who deliver things and if I can't find out who they are and what their experience are, then I question it. If it's a good program, then you can see who the people are whether they're worth what they're trying to sell too.

Jill:

Right. Right. Same is true for bachelor's degree. You can earn a bachelor's degree and safety as well, correct?

Todd:

Yeah. There are bachelor's degrees, there are master's degrees and actually, there is a doctorate offered in safety through the … Again, I have no affiliation with them but ADN University in Pennsylvania.

Jill:

Okay.

Todd:

They have a doctoral program but there are different schools who have MS program. My school has a completely online MS program. I think Oakland University has one. I know Mary State has one. Eastern Carolina has one that's internationally known. They have a lot of international students at ECU. There are a lot of schools out there but here is what you can do. If you're worried, go to the ASSP website. They have links that show which schools have the degrees. You can go to the Board of Certified Professionals … BCSP website. Let's just short it because I can't say it. They also have a list of universities or college, technical colleges near you that offer these types of degrees if you want to go to that level.

Jill:

That's a great tip because I think not every college and university offers programs in safety first of all and it's like in our home state, you and I in Minnesota, there is University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of Minnesota has some education in safety or at least environmental but that's it in the whole state.

Todd:

Right.

Jill:

In Wisconsin, you have what, two universities?

Todd:

Yeah. We got Stout with the MS and risk control.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

We've got Platteville with the emphasis of industrial technology with safety and then you got Whitewater with the meat and potatoes occupational safety and health degree.

Jill:

Yeah. Yeah. It's good to know that places like ASSP have a list of colleges if people are wanting to pursue a degree program. I came out of the University of Minnesota Duluth campus with my master's degree a long time ago. You taught there long after I had left that program for a little bit as well.

Todd:

Right. Yeah. That's located within the Department of Industrial and Mechanical Engineering.

Jill:

Engineering.

Todd:

Mechanical and Industrial. I guess mechanical goes first because it's the biggest part of that program but yeah, they've got the MAHS.

Jill:

Yeah. These are great tips for people. Thank you so much for sharing that piece. Yeah. Did you have another thought?

Todd:

I was. Just because we're talking about universities that I just published a chapter in a new book called Safety Leadership and Professional Development. It's offered through ASSP and my chapter is on internships and coops which is another option for companies that if you are near, let's say within two to four hours of a university who has a bachelor's program, they probably have an internship program. Maybe you could bring in a senior who's been through a lot of it and you guys can work together and learn together. They need the practical experience, maybe you need the classroom experience and you two can help each other build. That's a great opportunity. In that chapter, I lay out everything. I talk about the websites, where to find out where the programs are, I talk about what pays, what are the basic requirements of an internship. I've kind of deemed the expert in that area just because I took over that program three years ago.

Jill:

Right. I think that is a very good tip particularly for employers and people who are students right now as well. I get frequent calls and emails from employers who are looking to fill safety positions and their question is, "Where do I go? How do I look? How do I find somebody who's qualified? What schools can I go to? Jill, where do I go?" I got three calls like that last week. I often are suggesting that they go to universities and look for interns so that they can at least get started and try some people out and get somebody fresh out of a program is one avenues and ideas that I give them. That's a great tip for employers and students as well. Internships are powerful. Todd, do you want to repeat the name of the book in case someone is interested in that chapter? I think that's a good idea.

Todd:

The title is Safety Leadership and Professional Development and it's through The American Society of Safety Professionals. You can go to their website, www.assp.org and go to their … I think there's a book or a media link and they offer through there. Now Jill, there is one area we haven't discussed that just popped into my head and that is everyone is required to have a workers' compensation in order to operate or they fill out the self-insured with their state. Typically, with a lot of those policies, they're afforded a time with a loss control specialist and to take advantage of that opportunity. Don't just let it go. When they call, have them come in, review a program, do a mock OSHA audit. Do they do any IH testing? Take advantage of that as well.

Jill:

Yeah. A way to teach yourself, that's a really good suggestion. I offer that to people as well, workers' compensation, insurance companies, sometimes through work comp but also through property casualty will have safety people and they're often called loss or risk control people in the insurance world. Insurance brokers sometimes will also have safety people working for them so like Todd is saying, anytime it's a resource, you're likely already paying for through your premium that you can ask people to come in. If you have a stellar safety person who's working in an insurance company, they can … you can shadow them and it's a great way to learn but it's also a great way to get work done that you might not be able to do. Particularly Todd just mentioned, IH testings or industrial hygiene testing, if you're trying to figure out how am I going to do noise monitoring? How am I going to do air monitoring? How am I going to … we've got stainless steel welding going on and I don't have the equipment it takes to monitor for hexavalent chromium. You can likely get that accomplished through your insurance carrier or through your broker.

Todd:

Right, and also the universities sometimes do class projects. I had a place this last semester where I brought in my students, we did full shift sampling for noise and we did an industrial robot, sort of its operational envelop to figure out what would need to be guarded and what guards are available. Students need experience and so if you're near a university that has a program, man, take advantage. You have to plan that stuff months in advance and yeah, you got to put up with students and professors but you may be able to get some information you hadn't had prior and that's probably the most important thing.

Jill:

Yeah. Todd, are we leaving anything off the table by way of giving people tips about how to educate themselves? I'm kind of rewinding on what we've talked about. Are we missing anything?

Todd:

If we are speaking to the people who are … have just gotten into safety and they're afraid, they're not sure what to do, I review … people ask me to look at programs all the time and for beginners, what I typically see is that you're just basically reiterating what you'll find in an OSHA standard or an OSHA publication. That's not what safety is. If you want to look at like, I think it's ANSI 590 … Z590. What does a safety professional do? Step one, we assess the workplace. Continual assessment. What I teach my students is you have to use all kinds of different forms of assessment. There is the visual walkthrough but that's time limited. You have to do job hazard analyses or job safety analyses. You have to do process hazard analyses. You have to interview workers. You have to get their perception. You have to do training. There's a lot of different things you do and each one just provides you a different perspective of the true safety picture which is very hidden. The different approaches you take, the different perspective you gain, it just gives you a better understanding of what needs to be controlled and that's a second step coming up with control because if you don't eliminate the exposure, then it's a matter of when it's going to happen and how bad it's going to be. You have to make sure that your training is actually providing some form of knowledge skill or ability to avoid hazards because if you're just reading, I'm going to have a respiratory protection program. I'm going to read to them the 29 CFR 1910.34, that's not helping them.

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

You have to sample the air to find out do they need a respirator? What type of respirator do they need? This is how you wear it. This is how you do a fit check. This is how you do a seal check. This is how you clean it. This is how it stores. They need to know the practical aspects and that's what I try to teach my students is you're interpreting the standards, applying it to the workplace and just giving them what they need so a big, long program is not good for an employee. That's what we need to keep. That's our game plan but we have to make it simple for them. What do they need to do to be safe?

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

It needs continual updating. We never have the right answer that's going to be sustainable because people change, the technology changes, the production rates change, the services change, the customer changes so we have to regularly reevaluate what we're doing.

Jill:

Keeping it simple also means not making up assumptions on what people's knowledge base is either.

Todd:

Right.

Jill:

I think that something that often gets missed especially if you just apply the cliché commonsense.

Todd:

Right.

Jill:

It is a cliché and people don't know. They don't know what they don't know and you have to back way, way up. You just outlined all kinds of things about respirators, people don't know that respirators may not protect them from oxygen-deficient environments if it's the wrong kind of respirator. You can't make an assumption that people understand that. I've spoken with electricians who didn't understand what some electrical hazards were that they were working with.

Todd:

Right.

Jill:

Just like we can't make assumptions in our practice. We have to start at the very basics.

Todd:

Right. We didn't even talk about the hazard control hierarchy.

Jill:

Yeah.

Todd:

Okay. Is it more economical to create a respiratory protection program for 30 people and maintain it or is it more economical to design a ventilation system so that we don't need a respiratory protection program?

Jill:

Right.

Todd:

The same thing with hearing conversation, same things with lacerations. We're spending all this money and all this time and all this effort to guard, put protective equipment on people's arms and hands when it slows down their works so therefore they don't wear it when we're not around and they're still getting cut. Yeah, we're still spending all the money. Can we mec