OSH Generations is about family and the safety profession. Many OSH professionals have parents or children who are also in the profession. Our members share their stories of the people who influenced them to enter the safety profession or those who they inspired to become safety professionals. Here's the story of Kirk Davis. This story was originally published in the January 2014 issue of Society Update.
My father was a P.E. and held a Civil Engineering degree from University of Colorado (via GI bill post World War II). He was assigned various management positions with the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad until he was promoted to the company’s vice president for safety. While not new to safety in the early '70s, it was still viewed as a nonmainstream discipline.
However, my father made a science of it. He scoured the libraries, wrote off for books about safety culture, attended lectures and conferences, and then changed what he could in the company. I still recall seeing the pocket protectors he had made up that read, “Accident Free in ‘73.” Through his efforts and vision, his team significantly reduced the incident rates on the railroad and he received several awards and recognition from both the Union and company management.
Not long after that I was at the University of Colorado with a science degree, and a commission in the U.S. Navy as a navy diver and EOD officer. Since closing that chapter in my life, I found myself following my father’s energy and passion into safety management, working for major environmental companies as well as in oil and gas. Safety management has changed significantly since then—for the better. Our career field has moved the clock ahead about 40 years, and it is a different culture today. However, I do ponder the effect a company slogan on pocket protector might have on even our statistics.
Kirk Davis' father received an award from the Union for the "Accident Free in '73" program.