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Mrs. Valerie Baker has been an environmental, health, and safety professional for 30 years serving in a variety of industries and research roles. Valerie provides leadership to prevent injuries and illness, and reduce EHS risk. During her career she has helped organizations win regional awards such as the Ohio Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence and the Crain’s Cleveland Business North Coast 99– Health and Safety Award. Mrs. Baker has worked with teams and traveled to over 20 countries globally and enjoys learning other cultural perspectives on EHS.
Valerie on Safety:
Mrs. Baker views training as essential for the workplace to maintain compliance with regulations but more importantly educate employees on workplace safety practices. Companies must also provide their EHS professional staff with refresher training to enable them to perform competently in their roles. Training for EHS Pros can be technical or focused on leadership. Howmet Wheels System uses a variety of training resources including outsourced and in house talent to maximize the education employees receive. Covid-19 has provided unique challenges, and as Mrs. Baker described “[Howmet Aerospace] is investigating e-learning options to address social distancing concerns. Most people are now computer literate and e-learning provides a practical solution to address Covid-19 concerns”. Valerie emphasized the importance of third party training organizations having the needed experience and qualifications, as well as flexibility. References from other clients, the trainer’s reputation, and the cost of specific services is important in the selection process. Valerie also touched on the importance of ongoing training to maintain certifications such as a CSP (Certified Safety Professional), Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), and CHMM (Certified Hazardous Materials Manager). Valerie shared that at Howmet “safety is a value, not a priority”. Priorities change but values do not. Values drive the way a company gets things done. Though Covid-19 has impacted industry in an unprecedented way, Valerie highlighted that the pandemic has reinforced the value of health, safety, and leadership helping to maintain the business and still drive continuous improvement. In the long run, profitable businesses hold health and safety of its employees as a value.
Valerie on Training:
Valerie is involved in the ASSP (American Society of Safety Professionals) and has found the organization to be an excellent source for training opportunities and professional development. Additionally, Valerie discussed her outlook on collegiate education, stating that practical experience is essential for the Environmental Health and Safety field, and that organizations such as All Hazards provide hands on experience for students at the University of Findlay’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Environmental Safety and Occupational Health. Valerie highlighted whether it be hands on, e-learning, or a form of blended education, safety training is essential to the workplace in order to keep people safe and healthy.
Interview conducted by Haley Ritchie, an Environmental Health, Safety, and Sustainability major, and Marketing Assistant for All Hazards- a University of Findlay Training Center