Story

Wiener Mobile
THE ACCIDENT

Oscar Mayer, Madison, Wisconsin 

The summer before my first year of college I went to work at Oscar Mayer, the 3rd generation  in my family to do so, and I returned every summer until I graduated.  I worked in the maintenance department, where I drove a forklift, laid brick, broke up concrete, and caulked leaking ceilings. I was learning first hand why the OSHAct came into existence in 1970.  The equipment and machinery that I was surrounded by day-in and day-out literally could kill me.

 

After three years of doing odd maintenance jobs I started working with the veteran mechanics to document standard operating procedures to be used to train new mechanics. I was still undecided about my future and dabbled in several different majors.  However, it would soon be made very clear for me.   

On the Sunday before Christmas  in 2001,  I had been asked to document a maintenance procedure, however, I was out of town for the holidays, so I declined. Thankfully, I did, otherwise, it could have been one more life lost. That afternoon, when the mechanics began to perform their work, they opened up a vessel and released 50 gallons of ammonia, killing one of the mechanics instantly and severely injuring and blinding the other.  And changing my life forever - from that day forward, I dedicated the rest of my education and career to safety.

After the accident I transferred to a different university to study Occupational Safety and Health and I graduated with a BS in 2005. From 2005-2019 I worked as a health and safety professional in various industries: manufacturing, biotech, agriculture and academia. But it didn't matter the industry, I began to see a pattern in the approach I took to improve systems, processes, and procedures. Ultimately, everything I did was about making something better and empowering others to do the same.

 

In 2019, I seized the opportunity to take my approach and make a broader impact on UF core operations as the first assistant director for continuous improvement within the CFO division. From that point forward, I have seen myself as a champion for process improvement and meaningful decision-making conversations. 

And, as they say... the rest is history.