J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc., provider of safety and regulatory compliance solutions, announced the winners of the 2019 J.J. Keller Safety Professional of the Year (SPOTY) Awards.

The SPOTY Awards were created in 2002 to recognize the important role of safety professionals in building safety cultures and, ultimately, ensuring employees return home safely to their families every day. Winners are chosen by a panel from among J.J. Keller’s 70-plus safety consultants and editors, who are high sought experts in the all matters related to environmental health and safety, including OSHA and Department of Labor standards and regulations.

First-Place SPOTY Award Winner: Katherine O’Neal, EHS Advisor for Masco Cabinetry, Duncanville, Texas

J.J. Keller has named Katherine O’Neal, EHS Advisor for Masco Cabinetry in Duncanville, Texas, as the first-place winner of the 2019 Safety Professional of the Year (SPOTY) Awards. In the two-and-a-half years since O’Neal joined Masco Cabinetry, she has led the Duncanville site to have the lowest safety incident rate and cost in the Masco organization.

In 2018 and currently, the Duncanville site has had zero lost-time incidents. With strong executive leadership support, O’Neal has been able to implement safety innovations to create a model for other organizations, including changes such as having a Doctor of Physical Therapy on site to proactively make ergonomic and job improvements, and installing engineering controls leading to decibel reduction and allowing more than 200 employees to be removed from hearing conservation requirements.

Masco Cabinetry is part of the Masco Corporation family of companies, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of products for the home improvement and new home construction markets, including brands KraftMaid, Merillat, and Quality Cabinets.

“I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Environmental Health & Safety since I was nine years old,” said O’Neal. “My cousin … died as a result of a chemical exposure in the local drinking water supply. My father was involved in a major mine explosion on the job, that killed two of his coworkers. I thought I wanted to be an attorney, but these life-changing events changed my purpose. As an attorney, I knew I would forever be left trying to change the system after something bad had already happened. I realized a better way would be a career in Environmental Health & Safety, where I could proactively prevent tragedies like these from happening to anyone else.”

Second-Place SPOTY Awards: Chris Seider, Senior Safety & Risk Management Specialist with Foth, Green Bay, Wis. 

Seider earned the second-place SPOTY award from J.J. Keller for his accomplishments in weaving safety into the fabric of the company at all levels, his innovative spirit in fully integrating drones into the company’s safety program, and an approach of personally connecting with employees on safety. Since 2016, Seider has managed his team to 0 days away, restricted duty or job transfers. For 11 consecutive years, he has led his team with a Total Recordable Incident Rate below the industry average.

Foth is a science and engineering consulting firm that delivers technical solutions for public and private clients around the globe.

Third-Place SPOTY Awards: Jessica Flores, Safety Manager, Gainsborough Waste/Texas Outhouse, Gainsborough, Texas.

Flores received the third-place SPOTY award. Beginning her career in the customer service industry and then logistics, Flores became intrigued by the safety element of how organizations operate and moved into safety management. Despite the challenge of having to master both OSHA and DOT safety knowledge, she accomplished a lot in a short time, expanding the framework for the Gainsborough Waste/Texas Outhouse program in only nine months, including an innovative safety training lab, and Gainsborough Waste/Texas Outhouse began seeing results almost immediately.

Since 2002, the J.J. Keller SPOTY Award program has recognized safety professionals, awarding approximately $225,000 in cash and prizes through the program.

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