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 Maren Korpela, a professional member of our Northwest Chapter. This story was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Society Update.
OSH has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father, Daryl Korpela, CIH, worked in the OSH industry for more than 30 years. Growing up, we moved across the country a few times as his positions changed and responsibilities grew. I still remember when my dad presented at one of our school career days. He spoke about the duties and importance of an OSH professional. I do not remember any of the other presenters but I remember my father and there was something special about the way he could engage with his audience and get them to understand what he was saying, even if it was a group of 10-year-olds. He helped me get my first job working as an intern in the EHS department for a large company.
Later, he left the corporate world and started his own consulting firm. During my summers in college, I would tag along and work as his assistant for air or noise sampling. Eventually, he started sending me alone to perform sampling and write up reports. Then I was giving HazCom training to small groups of employees and performing site audits. Finally, I decided to jump in with both feet and make my own career in the OSH field. We had many wonderful discussions and it really helped our relationship over the years. I felt like I understood more about him as a person and respected him as a professional in the field.
My father passed away in 2017 and while it’s been a difficult time, I still feel connected to him through my work. I often find myself wondering, “How would Dad have handled this situation?” I also inherited his collection of articles and training programs that he found worth hanging on to over his long career. While many of the brochures and papers have faded with age, the wisdom on the page is as useful today as the day it was printed. I feel so lucky to have those resources to help guide me in my own path and I am grateful for having such a positive and supportive role model in my father. I hope that I can build a career and reputation that would make him proud.