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#9: Safety? In that industry? All I can think of right now are Buzz and Woody.

September 5, 2018 | 58 minutes 48 seconds

Ever wonder what occupational safety looks like for a Hollywood studio?

This episode of the podcast finds series host Jill James talking with Carolina, a safety leader at Pixar. Her fascinating journey to occupational safety included a pit stop in franchise motor vehicle service, aviation electronics, emergency medical technician (EMT) certification, and a decade with the municipal police department. Her credentials and diversity of experience—emergency management, security, workers comp—ultimately helped her score a job with Pixar, a Disney company.

A demonstrated life-long learner, Carolina’s hands-on, knee-deep, sponge-like approach to safety professionalism is a lesson for any aspiring EHS leader. This discussion shares some of the resources she’s leveraged along the way, including CAL-OSHA trainings, OSHA 10-hour, peer mentoring, and safety industry expertise. You’ll learn about building trust with regulatory bodies, how occupational safety is managed for Pixar’s 1400 employee, multi-building campus, and, once more, that hazards are present in all working environments.

Transcript

Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro, brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health and Safety Institute, episode number nine. My name is Jill James, Vivid's Chief Safety Officer, and today, I'm joined by Carolina, who is Senior Assistant to the Director of Safety and Security in the digital animation and production industry in California, specifically Pixar Animation Studios. Carolina, welcome to the podcast.

Carolina:

Thank you so much, Jill. Looking forward to it.

Jill:

This is so fun to have you here today, and we think about the digital animation and production industry, specifically Pixar, and maybe everyone who's listening is thinking, "Safety? In that industry? What does that even mean? All I can think of right now are Buzz and Woody." Maybe before we get into your story about how you accidentally became a safety professional, let's maybe paint a picture for our audience of what the industry looks like, by way of just your physical location. I've been there, I've been on your campus, but maybe walk our audience through where your employees work and what hazards they have.

Carolina:

Sure, absolutely. We are a studio of about 1400 employees. Within our campus, we actually have a café. You have the safety component there. We actually also have diesel fuel because we have generators that run in case of an emergency, and so there you have another component of it. We actually also have animators that use sculpting and all of that, and we have classes here where people can come and paint and just have their creativity, so we have solvents, we have all that, and then we have janitorial staff that we contract out, who also have chemicals around and all that. We also have officers here on campus, and we do do a lot of training with them, safety training, as well, and how to deal with every day walking or lifting. We do help and support our facilities department with our engineers who deal with the diesel fuels, like I've said before, and all of that. We also have a pool, and those are chemicals that we deal with. We have forklifts, so it's a combination of a lot. We're a busy studio, moving offices back and forth with our facilities, so there's training there for them, as well.

Jill:

Yes, and multiple buildings.

Carolina:

Multiple buildings, yes.

Jill:

Even confined spaces exist in your industry.

Carolina:

We actually do, there's five of them on campus, believe it or not.

Jill:

Right. It's a beautiful campus, and yes, you do get to see Buzz and Woody and other characters, as well, as you move about the campus, but more importantly, is the safety of all of those employees who are there, and that's a lot of employees on a campus. I always think about campuses as little cities, essentially having many of the same types of hazards that exist in small towns and small cities. You have a little bit of everything, so it becomes a really big job for safety professionals.

Carolina:

It does. I think the greatest part of it here is that it's a little bit enclosed, so like you said, it's our own little city within a city.

Jill:

Thank you for the description of ... Painting the picture of what your beautiful campus looks like. I've been there myself, and it's really beautiful and fun to walk around and yes, if anyone's listening, who is listening, rather, wonders if there are big statues of Buzz and Woody, yes, there are. I remember seeing all of your Oscars in an area where employees have their breaks and things, which is pretty cool to be able to see that on your beautiful campus. Carolina, starting in safety, and this podcast is all about how people become accidental safety pros. I'm interested to hear your journey on how you got to where you are in your career, so far. You have an interesting start onto how you learned about all kinds of things mechanical, maybe starting back when you were a kid. Would you mind bringing us up to speed? What did your early life look like that set the groundwork for this kind of career?

Carolina:

I remember going through many different schools within the city, and then we established our life in San Bruno. Prior to that, though, my dad always worked on cars. I'm the oldest of three, so instead of my brother, who's the baby, helping him out with passing out the tools and stuff like that, I was the one sitting there while he was fixing the car, handing him the tools. That's how I started learning a lot about the mechanical component. In high school, I decided that I did not want to do home ec and all of that, I actually wanted to take auto shop because I thought it would be fun and different. I did, and I was probably one of the few females in auto shop, but I loved it. It was super cool, then I could relate it to helping my dad out with the car and everything, so auto shop was it and that's where the mechanical component started kicking in. I needed a job, right? I'm like, I finished high school. My dad bought me a 1972 Camaro, which was my favorite car at the time-

Jill:

Right? That sounds pretty fun.

Carolina:

Right, no A/C, rolling down the windows, but my dad taught me how to maintain it, how to check my oil. He always wanted to have me be independent in case I ever got stranded somewhere, I knew how to change a tire or try to assess what's going on with the car. With auto shop, I learned all of that because at that time, the vehicles were simple. There wasn't all this electronical stuff that vehicles currently have. That was cool. I'm all like, "I need a job." I try to be a server at this senior home, and I remember it was like man, this is hard work. I will never forget, but I accidentally spilled ketchup on one of the visitors who was wearing a white shirt, and I felt so bad. I'm all like yes, this isn't me. I need to get out of this field. I started looking, and I remember Jiffy Lube, the oil changer place, was looking for someone work the register and I'm all like, "You know what? That sounds like a cool, easy job." I applied, and I was working the front, but I was really intrigued by the pit. I'm all like, "Okay, what's going on in the pit?" Of course, the person that's working the pit, they're full of oil, they're dirty. I'm like, "That is super cool, I want to work the pit."

Jill:

It won't matter if you spill ketchup there.

Carolina:

Exactly. At that time, the owner was like, "No, girls should not be working in the pit." I'm like, "Why not? It's changing oil. That's not difficult." Of course, I was hired to work the front or the register, so that didn't happen, but I always asked questions. It got me a chance to actually go into the pit and look at things, so that was really cool. From there, I was like, "Okay, what am I going to do with life?" I thought I was going to become an airplane mechanic. Again, we go back to-

Jill:

Back to mechanical.

Carolina:

Back to mechanical. I remember I told my parents, they were like, "Okay, you're going to school. You don't have to work." I'm like, "Perfect." I had to take this electronic class and I was all excited. I walk in, I'm the only female, and we're ready to build our first ohmmeter. I was like, "Yes. This is super cool."

Jill:

Wow, cool.

Carolina:

I put my ohmmeter together, it works and everything and then I was like, "Okay, I'm going to love this class." The next week, because it was only once a week, I went back in and now we started talking mathematical, how to trace from beginning to end, the electrical current. I was like, "Oh my gosh. What am I doing? This is not working hands on with an airplane. Why do I need to know about electronical component?" It was like a foreign language.

Jill:

You'd already done that.

Carolina:

I was like, "Yeah, I don't think this is for me." I'm like, "I'm just going to take general ed." My parents were super supportive, as long as I kept going to school or trying to have a plan. I started taking my general ed. I became friends with this guy at school, and he was actually going ... He was taking the fire classes, because he wanted to be a firefighter. He's like, "You know what? You should actually see if you want to become a firefighter. Why don't you just come to my class one day and see what it's like?"

Jill:

Excellent.

Carolina:

I'm like, "You know what? Why not." I did, and I fell in love. I was like, "This is it. This is what I want to do." I knew I had it in me to always help for some reason, and it seemed like a very rewarding career, plus, of course, there's not too many females so I was like this is a great challenge for me, and I think I can totally do it. I fell in love and I finished my fire classes and the fire academy, and it was great. I became certified as an EMT so we had that medical component in there, too-

Jill:

Wonderful.

Carolina:

I did that, and I tried to apply, but this was in the mid-90s where it was difficult. You had-

Jill:

Hard to get a job.

Carolina:

Yes, you had about 5,000 applicants to two hiring, that a certain city was doing. That's how demanding it was.

Jill:

Right.

Carolina:

Meanwhile, I was like, "What am I going to do? I still need to work," figured that out, and I had a friend that worked for the city of Menlo Park, and asked, "Hey, my aunt is looking for rec leaders for the summer. Do you want to work it?" I'm like, "Yeah, I like kids. Why not?" It paid good for the summer while I was trying to become a firefighter. That found me, actually, that job, and fell in love with working with kids. It was nice and rewarding. Safety came into play with that, because we had to-

Jill:

Of course.

Carolina:

Make sure that we had a safety plan for evacuations, carry our first aid kits and all of that, so I was exposed to that a little bit at the time. The director asked me to stay on, the rec director asked me to stay on, and I did because I still was looking for a job. From there, I stayed with the city of Menlo Park, and I worked with kids. I realized the fire field was going to be definitely hard to get into-

Jill:

A little bit of a wait.

Carolina:

A little bit of a wait, but I fell in love with working with kids, and I realized yes, I can't be a firefighter anymore, but this is still rewarding. I did that, so I stayed with the city for many years and I worked my way up. Ran an after school program and summer camps, and that was a lot of fun. Again, you had to do fire drills, you had to make sure that everything was safe for the kids, because we had Kinder through 8th grade, I believe.

Jill:

Sure.

Carolina:

Safety was in there, too-

Jill:

You were using your EMT skills occasionally, I bet, as well.

Carolina:

Yes, so we all had to get CPR and first aid certified and all that good stuff. It was just really fun and intriguing, but I needed a change, and the police department was hiring an admin assistant for the commander, so I applied, and I got the job. I worked for the police department for almost 10 years there. Within that, I ended up, my actually commander at the time, she's one of the few female commanders within that area, and her background was emergency management. That's where I got into it even more. She was not only my boss, but my mentor. Because of her, I really fell in love with the emergency management component of fire drills, making sure we are all prepared, training our city staff, and all of that. I did that, and I fell in love with it. I was loving what I was doing. After that, a year's back, maybe two years, three years ago or so, I was asked to work for HR, human resource department needed help, so I-

Jill:

Still within the city?

Carolina:

Within the city, yes. I said, "Sure, why not?" I helped them out, and that's where I learned more of the safety component, because we had someone from an outside agency come in and do all of our safety checks within, so we had public works, of course, we had the police department. We had childcare centers within, we had the rec department, which had pool. We had a few pools there. We had classes running in and out.

Jill:

Multiple work exposures.

Carolina:

Multiples, yes. I always remember seeing the gentleman that would come out and do inspections and tell us, "Hey, you're out of compliance here." I'm like, "Gosh, okay. This is kind of cool." I got involved with helping out with worker's comp. That was fun. It was a great exposure to that. I had to help set up the safety meetings and stuff like that, but I wasn't fully involved. I was a little bit exposed to that. Before you know it, there was an opportunity that came, and I heard Pixar was hiring, and they needed a senior assistant in the security realm. I'm like, "You know what? This is kind of different and cool. I think I've done everything I needed to do. I was very grateful in my career path with the city and the police department, but I wanted more. I wanted to be enriched even more. I decided to go ahead and update my resume, and put in. What was intriguing was the fact that it was safety and security, which was a really interesting component.

Jill:

You had that strong ... Basically, had built a really strong security background, right?

Carolina:

Right, exactly. I knew my transition was going to be easy, but at the same time, I figured I was going to not only learn private security, but I was also going to learn something about safety, which I didn't know what that looked like at that time.

Jill:

You'd had a little bit of exposure.

Carolina:

Right. I looked at what, because the manager at that time was environmental health and safety manager. I'm like, "What the heck is that?" Of course, I'm Googling it, because I need to be prepared because he's on my panel, and I want to make sure what his job was.

Jill:

Can speak to it.

Carolina:

Yes. As I started learning about it, I'm like, "This is cool. I like it." That job had a component of safety, which is emergency management, as well. It had a little bit more training, which I helped assist with training components within the city. It was really cool. I'm like, "Okay, this is cool." I ended up getting the job, so I was excited. I didn't realize how lucky I was that I actually was working for Pixar because it's hard to get into.

Jill:

I can imagine.

Carolina:

I'm like wow, I'm super honored. I built a great relationship with the environmental health and safety manager. I learned so much from him. He was amazing. I kept asking him questions. I'm like, "I want to learn your job. What does it mean? What are you doing?" He did, he was really a great teacher, in a sense, and mentor. I said, "Maybe one day I might want to do what you do." I knew I didn't want to stay just as a senior, not like there's nothing wrong with it, but just seeing this whole other component in the world and protecting our employees, I thought that was awesome. The fact that the training is so essential to make sure that they don't get hurt on the job, to prevent. This whole thing about preventable, and I was like this is great. That's how I started even falling more into it and learning about OSHA regulations and all of that. He ended up leaving and went on a whole new venture for himself, so then he suggested things that I should take on to our supervisor at the time when it came to safety, and that's how I was given the safety component. That was my safety hat. I was not only the senior assistant to the director, but now I'm doing the safety component, too.

Jill:

Wow.

Carolina:

Fell in love, and he had great resources like yourself, with Vivid Training and all of that. I'm like, "I'm going to reach out, because I'm just ... I don't know, where am I going?" The fact that the foundation was laid out was really nice and easy, it's just maintaining it from there on.

Jill:

Right. You had built a really great foundation for yourself, Carolina, with all of the work that you had been doing in your previous job with the city and all the different departments and exposures, you really were building a really ... A great exposure list from worker's compensation, to the security piece, to some of the medical management pieces and the emergency action, things that you were doing, you were really gearing yourself up to step into this role. I think by the time you and I met, and you had accidentally came into that job, which really, it wasn't an accident. I know you didn't plan your path, but look at all the great things you had done to be able to get to the role that you're in right now.

Carolina:

Exactly.

Jill:

It's been really fun to help where I can, with your journey at Pixar.

Carolina:

Thank you.

Jill:

The day to day work that you're doing now with safety, you're not different than a lot of people in the safety field, whereas there's fires that you're trying to put out every day. Not literal fires, but safety things that are happening. How has that transition been looking for you in terms of how are you able to work through those fires every day, and what resources are you reaching out to?

Carolina:

Because we are a Disney company, as well, I have my Disney partners that deal with safety and environmental health. I've actually reached out and introduced myself to them in the beginning, and asked if they could help guide me and answer questions for me, if I ever had any. That's how it all started. It's like there isn't always fires that we have to put out, because we have our facilities department. They're really good about safety and believing in that, our studio is a huge supporter of it. Keeping up with the maintenance of making sure everyone's up to certifications that they may need, from forklift operator to CPR and first aid, to HazCom and all of that. It's just making sure that I'm continuing on the regulations, making sure we're still OSHA compliant, and again, these things just surface up. I was on board maybe, I want to say, about four months in, and I get a call from the environmental health inspector saying, "Hey, I need to schedule a visit." I'm like, "Huh?"

Jill:

What's that? Who's that?

Carolina:

Who? Environmental what? I was very open and honest, and I think that's what's helped me out is I'm not afraid to say I don't know the answer to that, let me come back or you know, I really have no clue what you're talking about, but I can find out. I've always done that throughout my life and my careers. Of course, we had to update our hazard material business plan and I'm all like, "What? What is that?"

Jill:

What is that?

Carolina:

I have no idea, I've never seen it. Of course, my luck, it happened to be the five years that he was here to review it.

Jill:

It only happens every five years and then you get it.

Carolina:

Yes, exactly. I'm all like, "Crap, okay. I'll just get it together." I ended up finding it because the previous manager for environmental health, he had everything together so it was easy, and as well as my previous director. I've got the information, and I was ready to go, and I swear to you, I was like, as we were walking through because he's looking at everything, making sure where we had hazard materials and all of that, and then he mentioned SPCC. I'm all like, "What the hell is that?"

Jill:

Another acronym.

Carolina:

He's like, "You do have your SPCC plan ready to go for me to review?" I'm like, "mm-hmm (affirmative), sure, yes." I was total confident about it, "We definitely." I knew we had it, I just didn't know where. I will never forget, I'm texting my director, I'm all like, "SPCC, huh?" With a question mark. He's like, "Huh. We got to figure this out." As we're walking, I'm Googling SPCC, what does that mean? I'm all like, "Oh my God, the spill prevention blah blah.

Jill:

You know.

Carolina:

I think I've seen this binder somewhere. That's where I ended up learning a lot about the environmental health component, which was really awesome to learn. Of course, you're dealing with hazardous material. I had fire background, so-

Jill:

It made sense.

Carolina:

It made sense. I was like, "This is so cool." He was super cool and understanding when I said, "Hey, you're going to have to walk me through this whole thing, and I will make the corrections that we need to make and everything." It worked out. We are in compliance now, so that was something that I was like, "Yay, it's been accomplished."

Jill:

Right. So many of us, when we are in our safety jobs, no matter where it is and no matter how many times we've changed work, sometimes we walk into these organizations where there's nothing with safety and nothing's been done, and we're creating things from the ground up. Other times, we're walking into someone else's work, but we don't have the benefit of having had a tour, essentially, of what that work was, to be able to step into it, which is what your situation was. There was a foundation, but you didn't really know where to unearth it because it wasn't presented to you in a way, but you've managed to figure it out. You were mentioning before, the resources that you've built, and you've reached out to Disney, but you've also reached out to other organizations and other governmental bodies as you're trying to educate yourself and continually training yourself. One of our other podcast guests, Dr. Todd Loushine said, in a session that we did together, that your net worth is your network. That really stuck with me and as I'm listening to you, I'm thinking how you've been building your network of people to reach out to, to continue educating yourself. You've not been afraid to reach out to other governmental regulatory bodies, rather. California has a lot of regulations, sometimes different than the rest of the country, oftentimes leading the rest of the country. Could you share, Carolina, how you've reached out to some of those other governmental bodies? I think a lot of people have a fear of doing that, but you've had success.

Carolina:

I have. I knew that Cal OSHA is different than fed OSHA, so I decided to just Google Cal OSHA, and Google has been a friend of mine. It looks like we actually, Cal OSHA, offers amazing free training for new people getting into the field, all of that. I was like, "You know what? I'm going to start taking the original, the beginning classes of okay, what is environmental...what are OSHA requirements in California?" With the support of my director, which I'm blessed to have, I've been going to these trainings because there's so many resources out there, it's just looking for them. When you go to these classes, you're dealing with, of course, people that have ... They're running other type of different business, but at the end of the day, I realize that it's what's best and the safety of the workers. That's the main goal. That has been a huge, huge help. Also, reaching out to you as far as what kind of ... Do I need a certificate, what? Taking OSHA 10 has really helped to open up my eyes, and then I can relate. I love the fact that I'm a hands on person already, so knowing that what I'm doing now makes sense when I'm taking my OSHA 10, I can relate what I'm learning in the classroom, per se, versus what I'm actually doing hands on. That's been essential. You guys have been an awesome resource. There's just so much out there, and I'm not afraid to call our environmental health inspector and say, "Hey, did I do this right? Is this okay?" There's nothing but so much help out there. I asked him, "Do I need to be certified to be in an environment, have environmental health under me?" He's like, "No, how you got into it is basically how we've all gotten into it."

Jill:

That's affirming, wonderful.

Carolina:

Yes, exactly.

Jill:

I think it's just so important for anyone starting out in safety, particularly, to not be afraid to reach out to those regulatory bodies. I think people fear it because they think, "Well, now we're going to get inspected. Somebody's going to come looking around because now I've maybe admitted I don't know as much as I should." That's really an urban myth. Governmental regulatory bodies have to have probable cause to come and do inspections, and asking for help is not one of those reasons. For anyone listening, I encourage you to follow Carolina's advice and reach out and help teach yourself. I think that's great. I know one of the other things that you've worked on since you've been with Pixar is really building relationships internally with some of your, particularly, your department heads. Can you talk about how you've been doing that to be able to advance the work that you've been doing with workplace safety?

Carolina:

Absolutely. I think you said it in one of your podcasts that you did where you have to build a great relationship with those that are going to help you succeed in safety. To go in there as being a regulatory, "I'm telling you this is what has to be done so we're doing it," it's building a trust with them. I think just since I've been here, and my work ethics, has already built, started building that trust since I've been here, and I'm almost two years on, that they trust me enough to know if we're doing this, there's a reason behind why we're doing it. Again, super supportive. Safety always come first in our studio so I have to say I'm really lucky to have that type of relationship. My director also has a great relationship with management and all of that, so it helps. It's a team effort, and they realize that, and it's awesome. I think I'm really lucky to that, because I know that it's not always easy that you can always get pushback. The facility director is just awesome in wanting to protect her staff because there's engineers, there's techs, they're doing all these movement, they're working with like I've said, just a lot of stuff. The training for them is so essential that it's just having that dialogue and going in there, "Hey, we're in this together," for example. It's not just me, I need you because you're the expert matter on, let's say, electrical. I said, "You're the expert matter, not me, so let's work together on making sure that we're doing everything correct," and bringing them into the safety world behind the scenes, I think helps build that relationship.

Jill:

Right, right. Do you think, Carolina, when you look back at the early parts of when you were learning all those mechanical things and you wanted to be working in the oil changing pit, and you're learning how to do car maintenance and taking care of all of that, and even your background in schooling with the emergency services, when you're doing your job now, are there times that you feel like you're bringing back some of that experience and applying it to relate to some of the employees or some of the training? How does that work for you?

Carolina:

Absolutely, it really does. It's not like I have to say, "Here's my resume, this is what I've done." I think it's when I've asked the questions that ... When you ask the right questions with someone that deals with, for example, our generators because it's just amazing equipment, but you still have the same mechanical components that some cars have. Asking the right questions they're like, "Oh, okay. She actually has some knowledge when it comes to that." That's how I bring it out.

Jill:

Same for me. I grew up in a blue collar family, and my dad worked in a factory. I've often applied, would my ... Whatever I'm trying to train or speak about, or the way that I'm presenting, would have my dad, at his factory, or the people that he worked with at the time, would have they been able to understand this in a way that was ... What's in it for them and relatable? Was I presenting something in a manner that they'd look at me like she's got two heads, what is she talking about here? It's always kind of been my acid test throughout my career and has been very helpful to have had that background.

Carolina:

Exactly. I think, too, before I even got into the safety component, it's just building relationships. It doesn't have to be as part of the safety or security. It's just being able to just get to know the people you work with. I think that once you build those relationships, whatever you need as you move on and you're doing things within your career, they're willing to help and be a team member. They're like, "Yeah, she's actually pretty cool and nice, and I definitely would like to help her." I think because I build those relationships prior, with especially our facility folks, that it really did make the whole transition into the safety component easier.

Jill:

Right. I call it trusted advising. If you build those relationships with people, you become a trusted advisor and they become your trusted advisor, so that when you're trying to tackle and unwind a regulation that's applicable to someone's specific job task, you're able to get with them and say, "Okay, this is what I'm seeing, this is what I'm reading, this is what I'm hearing. Tell me about how this works in your day to day work life. Let's talk about those exposures. Let's talk about the fact I want you to go home with all of your parts and pieces, back to your family, and so together, let's figure this out." You become each other's trusted advisor.

Carolina:

Yes, and that's how it's been. It's awesome. You see it, as it comes out. For example, we had one of our engineers up on the roof, hearing them call it into the radio letting us know that they're up there. It was awesome, because we had this conversation before. It's like, "I know you guys are everywhere, but what happens when you're up on the roof? Do you let us know?" They're like, "Well you know, we're usually working." I go, "But, could you do it for just our own sanity? Because if we do have an earthquake or maybe something happens, you may have a heart attack, anything, at least we'll know you're up in the roof and we can follow up and monitor you and those things or else we will never know. At the end of the day, we really just want to make sure that you're safe." That's all it took, and they're awesome and they've been doing that. They're like, "Hey, we're up on the roof." We're like, "Great, thank you."

Jill:

Letting people know where you are, that's so wonderful that you've been able to get people to do that. People are often working solo or alone in places, particularly in those kind of maintenance jobs, or maybe it's one or two people working somewhere. In the time that I was with OSHA, and I investigated so many workplace deaths, nearly all of them were people working alone. In fact, I can't think of a single one out of the 30 some deaths I investigated, where there was a witness, where someone was there. People were always working alone, and so as I was putting together those pieces, and for any of us in the safety field, what you've instituted with having your employees let you know where they are on a big campus or in a big facility, any kind of large facility that someone's going to be in a particular area, it helps inform you whether should this be a solo job? Should somebody be working with them? Is this really meant for more than two people? When it's those one off situations, where you as the safety person can say, "Hey, what are you doing today again? I know you told me you're going to be here, but what's the job task?" It cues you in to know, should there be some air monitoring happening? Do they have all the right gear they need? Should there be more than one person? Do we have to be thinking about confined space rescue planning, or whatever it is, that's a great relationship that you've built with your staff so that they're letting you know.

Carolina:

They're amazing, all of them. Again, safety is a priority for them, too. I've been really lucky because it's just a bunch of great people to work with.

Jill:

Carolina-

Carolina:

It's not just me, it's a team effort.

Jill:

Right, right. What has been maybe one of the more fun challenges that you've been able to tackle at Pixar and say, "Hm, I didn't know how I was going to do this, but I did it. I succeeded." Something that you're particularly maybe proud of, or that was a fun, professional challenge for you.

Carolina:

It was definitely when the environmental health inspector came on and there were certain things we needed to fix and I was like, "Oh my gosh." I'm like, "I have to fix this." I took it in as of course, I'm the one that thinks the worst case scenario. We're going to get cited, we're going to have to pay all of these fees and you know, oh my goodness. I have to do it and I'm going to figure it out a way to do it. It worked out really well, because I was able to fix the corrections that were needed, and when I see this email coming back from the environmental health inspector saying you have met everything, you're in compliance, it felt so good. I was just like, "I cannot believe that I actually accomplished it." It wasn't just me accomplishing it, it was reaching out to my resources and saying, "Hey, how do I update my hazard, the HM whatever?" See again, acronyms, they're just horrible sometimes, but the HMVP, how do I do all this? How do I fill it out? Asking the inspector, do you have time to show me how I need to go into CUPA and CUPA...I have never heard of CUPA in my entire life, until he was here. Asking that and giving me those resources that I was able to accomplish it. Also, we have the Bloom energy system here on campus, and because Cal OSHA is a little bit more stringent than fed OSHA, they actually had copper in one of their chargers, or something. Copper is considered a hazard material in California. I didn't know that, so they did, of course that's what they do. Speaking with whoever deals with all of these ... Again, HMVPs, we built a great relationship. I connected with him. He's like, "I do these all the time, let me help you. Here's how you have to go through it," and then I was able to do it on my own.

Jill:

That's a great success story. It's the work ethic that every employer wants, how you're digging into these things and figuring it out, and you're talking about safety, but Carolina, you have learned a lot about environmental as well, which is often another avenue that safety people end up having under their purview as well. So many of us are self taught in the environmental, unless of course you went to college for that, and maybe know a little bit more about it. It's often a part of the safety practice that those of us who accidentally got into it didn't know we were going to have to get so dangerously knowledgeable or very knowledgeable in that. I was remembering a story that you had told me about when filming was taking place on one of Pixar's latest, I think maybe was it Coco? I'm not exactly sure. You needed to do something with set safety, and this was also a first time adventure for you with set safety. Do you want to talk about how did you approach that one?

Carolina:

Sure. Apparently, we have a motion caption studio here on campus. Someone said, "Oh yeah, we're going to be doing some filming in the mo cap." I'm all like, "Mo cap? Huh? What the heck is that?" I was educated, I'm like, "Oh, that's pretty cool." This is where I learned about having a safety person on set. I'm like, "Oh shoot, we have to have a safety talk. They need to know about things." I started putting two and two together. Fast and the Furious is one of my favorite movies in the world, and there were so many things in there and then it just hit me I was like, "Oh my gosh, there must have been a safety person on set-

Jill:

Right, exactly.

Carolina:

To make sure that everyone's lifting the ladders correctly, making sure they're not too close to the fire, whatever. Wearing fire retardant." I was like, "Oh." It was an epiphany, my mind just blew up and I was like, "This is craziness," but exciting at the same time, not realizing that also, that's part of safety.

Jill:

Right.

Carolina:

I reached out to you and I said, "Oh my goodness, how do we get a safety person out there? What do we do?" Again, of course, it's having that confidence and I think sometimes, I question it. Could I do it? Wait, I actually do because it's just all about how to lift things correctly, making sure we have enough fire extinguishers in case, teaching people that are working on the sets where our fire extinguishers are. I'm like, "Okay wait wait, this is all making sense to me now."

Jill:

It's hazard recognition skills no matter where you are, whether you're on a motion capture set or you're in a power plant or you're in your cafeteria. It's all identifying the hazards.

Carolina:

Exactly, right. We were able to go ahead and create, add another ... We just fixed the little things where it came to the safety component, because at the end of the day, if you're looking at a set and you see any trip hazards, you correct them and then you give them a talk about, "Hey, if there's a fire alarm, here's your exit routes," things like that. That was actually pretty cool, that I learned how to do that.

Jill:

Right, right. For the people listening, you're wondering what motion capture is and I'm not an expert in this, but we have people who do motion capture for the training that we produce at Vivid Learning Systems. It's essentially people acting things out with a specific electrical ... It's probably not electrical, but components on their bodies where the film is able to pick it up, and maybe they're animating it later. They're acting things out. If you can imagine, Carolina, you may have people that were climbing on ladders, or maybe they were standing at heights, or they're jumping off of something that would later turn into some piece in an animated film, you're looking at those kind of hazards, and you're looking at electrical hazards, with all the electrical components and cables and cords that are going to cameras and lights and all that business, making sure that you didn't have ... Things were grounded properly, and you didn't have trip hazards and all of that business.

Carolina:

Exactly.

Jill:

Congratulations on figuring that out, too. Did your name end up being in the credits for that film, for safety, as well?

Carolina:

For this mo cap, no, it has not been yet, but no, not at all.

Jill:

It will happen.

Carolina:

It takes a while.

Jill:

You're still young in this part of the job. When I go to movies now and I sit around at the end and you're watching the credits and you're reading everything, you do get to see safety and the people who have the safety jobs on those film sets. It's just another piece of the safety profession is really, literally everywhere that human beings are working. I'm often asked, "Jill, who does safety apply to?" It's every work environment. It's everywhere that human beings work, we all have different degrees of hazards that people are exposed to, and our work applies to all of them, which is so great and enriching, and gives us so many opportunities and places to work in our profession.

Carolina:

You actually bring it home with you, too, because I've noticed that I'm like, "Okay, this is crazy." I'm walking around my apartment complex, and I see this total violation. I'm like, "Why are they running electricity from this place to that." I'm like, okay wait, I'm not at work. This is my home. Of course, I went to the manager, I'm like, "You need to really check because someone's using an extension cord that shouldn't be used for outdoors." I'm like, "Whoa, what the heck." It's hilarious.

Jill:

I do the same thing. I think we'd be hard pressed to find a safety professional that doesn't bring it home. It's just to what degree. I do the same thing. I was at my crossfit gym this morning, and I noticed that an electrical cord was hanging out of the outlet a little bit. When they do that, it can build heat. My eye is tracked to see that stuff and so I'm getting a drink of water but I see this cord, and I stick it back in the outlet and tighten it up. I'm not telling anybody that I'm correcting a hazard at the gym, but you just see these things and you do it because it's how we're wired now, to be able to do that.

Carolina:

Exactly.

Jill:

That's great. Do your kids think that mom, what is the safety business and does it spill into their lives, as well? Are they thinking you're a weird mom like my son thinks I'm weird?

Carolina:

I think they always thought I was weird, only because working in a police department-

Jill:

Right.

Carolina:

I've made them aware of things. I would always come home with stories so they could learn from them and things like that, so they've always thought I was weird when it came to that. I remember when my daughter started school in San Francisco and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, my daughter's in downtown San Francisco and she's going to this school that's in a building." I'm like, "Hey, do they have an emergency evacuation plan and are you aware of it?" She looked at me like, "What?" I said, "I'm just saying, if there's an earthquake in San Francisco, do you know what you need to do? There's not going to be BART." We have BART as our transportation, which is a train. I said, "All that's gone. You can't cross a bridge, that's the only way you're going to get to me." I said, "Does the school have a plan?" She's like, "Not that I'm aware of." I was like, "Can you ask?" She goes, "No. What am I going to look like asking, mom? Really?" I'm like, "Then I'm going to ask." She's like, "No, please don't. Don't embarrass me, mom."

Jill:

You asked, right?

Carolina:

I sure as heck did.

Jill:

That's right, me too. I've asked the same question. Every year school starts and I'm walking through the building with my child trying to find where the classrooms are and all of that stuff, and at the same time, I'm asking him to notice his exits. When we're in this...Right? You've done this, too.

Carolina:

Oh my gosh, yes.

Jill:

If there's a fire, if there's a violent incident, if there's a chemical release, I live in the middle of the country so I don't have to worry about earthquakes like you do, but we're identifying exits and I'm talking to him about his emergency plan and where the gathering space is going to be and all of that. He's gotten used to it, but his eyes certainly roll. He was recently with his friends at a Panic! At The Disco concert, big, giant venue they were at. I had said to him in the morning before he left, I said, "I want you to remember situational awareness when you get to that venue." He looks at me, and he knows what those terms mean because he's my child. He says, "Okay, mom." Rolls his eyes. I get a text from him right before the concert's starting, and he sends me a picture of the stage and he says, "I have my merchandise, I've got my concert t-shirts. My two exits are identified."

Carolina:

I love that.

Jill:

I'm like, this is my child.

Carolina:

That is so cute.

Jill:

It's not that we're raising our kids to be fearful, we're raising them to be prepared. I think that that can be ... People in safety or who talk about safety or who worked in law enforcement like you have, it's like oh if we talk about this, we're just going to drum up fear in people. It's so not that. It's so how to be prepared, it's so that it becomes part of your daily life to just bake this into how you walk through the world and how you're preparing yourself to stay safe.

Carolina:

Yes. The incidents that happen nationwide is also another. Our kids are all about social media and everything. The Las Vegas shooting, that was an eye awakening, I think, for the entire nation. Even for the young, this generation of going to concerts and things like that, it's something that we've always preached to our kids, "Make sure you know your exit signs, do not get too front. Make sure that you're able to access. Don't forget where you car is." Those things that you instill in them when they go out, and they actually see something horrific as that incident, then they relate it and they're like, "Wait, this is what mom was saying. Now I understand why she was saying what she was saying." It's okay to have those conversations.

Jill:

It is.

Carolina:

You know what I do? It's so funny, because my daughter goes to concerts too, but it's with a group of friends. When they're all sitting down together planning their next day, I sit there and I actually, they don't know it, but I actually give them a safety talk. I'm all like, "Do not go in front of the stage because you're going to be, if anything happens, you're not going to be able to get out. Blah blah blah blah." They're like, "Yeah, okay great. Thanks. I appreciate that." They don't even realize it.

Jill:

Right. Makes sense to them. I do these little ... I guess maybe pop quizzes with the family. I live in a state where the Mall of America is, giant mall. I was with my mother there maybe two years ago, and I said, "Let's just stop for a second in one of these halls." We stood against the wall, and I said, "I'd like you to find two exits right now that are not the way that we came in. That's not the stairs, it's not the elevator. Show me two exits." She starts looking around and she said, "Oh, I see them. I see them over there and I see them over there." I said, "Right, but when we're going through our life in these really big places, we're not necessarily noticing where those signs are because it's not the same way that we came in and it's not the normal traffic pattern, but they exist everywhere. We just have to tune our eyes to be able to look for those things and then give yourself permission that if there is an emergency for any reason, that it's okay to go through those doors. It might not be the ones that people are using all the time, but they'll always lead you out." She's made that part of her practice and something that I've taught my son, as well. It's part of what we put into our active shooter response training course that we offer at Vivid, is really trying to teach people that situational awareness which we use for lots of things in our life. It's just making it part of our practice.

Carolina:

Very true.

Jill:

Carolina, I was wondering, you had said that you were a Spanish speaker when you started out and now you're bilingual, maybe you're trilingual by now, not sure. Do you ever get to use your language skills in your job?

Carolina:

Absolutely. Definitely in the city that I worked for, I used it all the time. Translations, too, when it came to within the police department. Here, too, I've been able to use my Spanish because we have, actually, we contract out our services for cleanings and all of that, and I actually get to use my Spanish when it comes to that. One day, we had someone splash a little solution, I think it was detergent solution in their eye, and I was able to translate into Spanish because they were more comfortable speaking Spanish than English, and I was able to do that. I love every time I have the opportunity to continue to practice my Spanish, even though now I feel like Spanish is my second ... It's so weird. I'm like, wait when I came to the states, Spanish was my first language, English became my second, and as I transition through, now I feel like English is my primary and Spanish is my secondary.

Jill:

It's so powerful to be able to do your job being bilingual.

Carolina:

Yes, it has definitely helped.

Jill:

Jealous of that, jealous of that. Wish I had that part.

Carolina:

You know what? You just need to take a year off and then just immerge yourself in a Latin, that's all you have to do.

Jill:

That's simple, thanks. What's it like working every day in somewhat of a famous place, Carolina?

Carolina:

You know, I still can't believe I'm here. Every time I pull into our studio, and seeing just the writing Pixar in the entry, I was just like, "Oh my gosh, I'm actually working for such an incredible company, and just seeing the films from beginning to end." It's just awe. I'm still in awe, and I'm going to be here almost two years.

Jill:

How fun, how fun.

Carolina:

It's a lot of fun, and it's just an amazing company. Again, this is my first private company I've ever worked in my entire life. I'm lucky that it's Pixar.

Jill:

That's great, that's great. Carolina, as we close our time out together today, I'm wondering if you have any particular advice for other safety professionals? Particularly women starting out. Anything that you'd like to share?

Carolina:

Yes, absolutely. I think it's hard for us to have somewhat of a command presence and have that confidence that we know what we're talking about. I think it's doing your homework, researching it, reviewing it, asking questions, go to your resources, find a mentor that you know that will help you out, and just go in confidence. I think that is such a huge key, and I'm still learning that. I think-

Jill:

Me too.

Carolina:

That is the hardest thing for us women, to ... We, of course, walk into a room and oh my gosh, it's a female that's dealing with safety. Really? The majority of them are men, we know that. To have that confidence and that command presence like yeah, you know what? I know what I'm talking about.

Jill:

Wonderful, wonderful. Carolina, thank you so much for the generosity of your time today.

Carolina:

Thank you.

Jill:

We really appreciate it, really appreciate it. Thank you all so much for joining in and listening today, and thank you for the work that you all do to make sure your workers make it home safe every day. You can listen to all of our episodes at vividlearningsystems.com or subscribe to the podcast in the podcast player of your choosing, or you could also find us on YouTube. If you happen to have a suggestion for a guest, including, maybe, if it's you, please contact me at social@vividlearningsystems.com. Until next time, thank you for listening.