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Mike Strickland

Mike Strickland

2010 Safety Professional of the Year

KellerOnline and OH&S Magazine honored Mike Strickland, Environmental, Health & Safety Manager for Collins Bus Corporation, as the 2010 Safety Professional of the Year (SPOTY) on March 8, 2011 in a ceremony held at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. in Neenah, Wisconsin. The event marked the 9th annual presentation of one of the most sought after awards in the industry that recognizes individuals for their accomplishments in creating and implementing unique safety programs within their organizations.

During the presentation ceremony, Strickland said, “Safety professionals are making a difference in people’s lives every day. We do our best to educate people and mitigate potential hazards as we go through out our day, all the while knowing that we will probably never know if we prevented a death or serious injury. Oftentimes, the only way that we know we are doing our jobs well is if nothing is happening, that is, no one is getting hurt. It’s an honor to be recognized by KellerOnline and OH&S Magazine as the Safety Professional of the Year – two leaders in the safety industry – for doing what I am most passionate about.”

During his first two years at Collins Bus Corporation and with the implementation of various safety programs, the company’s recordable injury rate was reduced by 47% and the DART rate was reduced by 73%. This reduction in key safety metrics was achieved during a time when the production rates at the company were increased to their highest level – jumping over 30%. His approach of teaching safety, versus preaching it, has helped to transform Collins Bus into a safety and environmental leader in its field. Mike credits the entire Collins team for this achievement.

Statistically, one in four businesses does not reopen following natural destructive events. The Collins Bus facilities experienced four within a single year – a hail storm, partial roof collapse due to heavy snow, extensive damage from a microburst with winds exceeding 120 mph, and a lightning strike that caused a fire and damaged several chassis. Fortunately, no employees were injured during these events or during the extensive clean-up efforts where Collins team members handled shredded sheet metal and broken glass. Prior preparation, planning, training, and an established safety culture helped to keep the employees of Collins Bus safe.

“What I stress to our employees is that what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Knowledge is power and I reach people by using real world examples of what can go wrong. I appeal to their intellects as well as to their hearts,” said Strickland.

As part of Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV), Collins embraces Lean Manufacturing principles which rely heavily on employee engagement and a disciplined approach to quality and safety improvements. Strickland said, “We are always open to ways in which we can reduce steps in our manufacturing processes, but safety and Lean go hand-in-hand at Collins. One of the first things that we think about during a Lean event is whether or not we can make the change to the process safely – considering everything from avoiding sharp edges to ergonomic concerns.”

Strickland received a $2,500 cash award during the special ceremony, along with a plaque, certificate, one year’s use of KellerOnline for himself and others in his organization, and $1,200 in online training.

Dan Allen, Corporate Safety Director for California Drywall in San Jose, California, was awarded second place. Dan received this award for his outstanding safety leadership in lowering key safety indicators and implementing safety programs to help improve his company’s competitiveness during a struggling economy. The programs that he implemented reduced recordable incidents rate from 13.83 to 2.04 over a period of three years, which falls 65% below the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates for companies within the industry in which California Drywall competes.

Allen received a $500 cash award, a plaque, certificate, and a one-year subscription to KellerOnline.

Frank McDaniel, Director of Safety for Helix Electric Inc. in San Diego, California, was awarded third place. He received this award for being an integral part of helping Helix Electric Inc. become a world class leader in safety performance. The successful implementation of behavioral-based safety processes has resulted in over an 85% improvement in incident rates. He will also receive a plaque, certificate, and one-year subscription to KellerOnline, along with a $50 cash award.

Back to SPOTY Award Winners Page