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 Megan Merbach, CSP, a senior environmental, safety and health engineer at Lockheed Martin, and her father, Kurt Merbach, a safety manager at an oil refinery for 37 years. In this OSH Generations story, we spoke with Megan to learn about the safety journey of Megan and her father, and hear how the safety profession has impacted their relationship.
For Megan, the impact of safety was pronounced in her life because of her father’s career. She reflects on how she and her sister grew up with safety consistently in mind. “We always had properly fitting bike helmets, kneepads for our rollerblades, and good car seats in the car,” she says. “When I was learning to drive, we would go out every day and practice until I became confident.” This safety mindset extended to household tasks as well. “I remember having to hold the ladder and stand watch when my dad did roof work and helping with two-person lifts on heavy objects,” she says. “Extra care was always taken to ensure my family was safe.”
“I remember getting to try on the flame-retardant jumpsuits and hard hats, riding around on a Kubota to check on various job sites,” Megan says, recalling a trip to her dad’s workplace for Take Your Child to Work Day. She completed the contractor training and took the quiz, and her father posted the test on his whiteboard with the caption: “If my 11-year-old can pass this, you should be able to too!”
Despite all this, Megan wasn’t convinced that the safety profession was her path. She says, “If you had asked me as a child if I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps, I would’ve told you that his job was ‘too boring’ and he sat in 'too many meetings.'"
Instead, Megan found her safety career path through her first co-op position in college. “My degree focuses on environmental, so I took a co-op role at the Lysol factory in environmental health and safety,” she says “I quickly loved the safety parts of my job more, though, and the rest is history!”
Megan’s dad has become a cheerleader for her safety career. “He gives me tips for audit prep, shared training tools with me, and even encouraged me to go after my CSP, which I obtained last year,” she says, explaining some of the ways her dad helps her. “My dad became my biggest supporter and the best person to go to with questions and for career advice.”
Megan at Take Your Daughter to Work Day
Megan donning some of her dad’s PPE
Megan and her father, Kurt, present day
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