NEWS | Oct. 22, 2020

National Safety Council Recognizes Navy Safety Professional as 'Rising Star'

By Stephanie Slater, Naval Safety Center Safety Promotions

The National Safety Council (NSC) recently recognized a Navy safety community member as a 2020 “Rising Star of Safety,” and highlighted his accomplishments in the October issue of NSC’s Safety+Health magazine.

Ryan Wood, a safety professional at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division in Crane, Indiana, was one of 32 men and women worldwide to achieve the distinction. The NSC’s Rising Stars of Safety program showcases up-and-coming safety professionals making a difference in the workplace.

In selecting Wood, the NSC considered leadership attributes, safety initiatives that resulted in a positive and measurable outcome, peer engagement to transform safety culture and personal belief in the value of safety to operations.

The “Rising Star” recognition cements what Wood’s mentor already knew about how well Wood engages with his peers.

“Ryan makes full use of his personal engagement skills to get his team to buy into safety,” said John LeFevre, an explosives safety specialist serving as the deputy branch head of the Logistics-Supply Chain Operations-Ordnance Management Branch at the Pentagon. “Ryan explains the ‘why’ of what we do when it comes to safety, and his positive attitude and enthusiasm create a positive safety culture.”

Wood says that making safety personal is all about customer service and cooperating with those who are at risk by using both professional and practical means.

“Rapport with your customers goes a long way in maintaining a robust safety culture so hazards can be identified and abated quickly,” said Wood.

Wood’s former supervisor, who nominated him for the award, said Wood demonstrates extreme dedication to take on challenging and routine assignments alike, all while maintaining the precedence of safety.

“He can work at an exuberating pace, but he understands that a safety office and culture extends beyond himself as he purposely incorporates his team and the organization in decisions building a necessary trust,” said Carter Divine, a safety officer at NSWC Port Hueneme, California.

LeFevre noted that what stands out about Wood’s ability to connect his teammates around what matters most is best practices he has implemented at Crane as part of his travels to other NSWCs conducting inspections and self-assessments.

“He shares the knowledge and experiences he has gained from these visits with the workforce, which helps send the message that he truly cares,” LeFevre said.

In this same vein, Wood routinely completes continuing education that he shares with the team.

“He does this either through creating challenging projects, recommending courses of action or mentoring those around him,” Divine said.

“I am a huge proponent of knowledge exchange and learning,” Wood said. “Professional development is important to me and I like to convey that to my teammates. Whether that means a degree, professional certification, training or obtaining more experience, I feel the end product is that a safety professional is more knowledgeable and competent when speaking the language of safety to customers.”

Several notable accomplishments were cited in the award submission nominating Wood.

Leadership. Wood conducted extensive workplace research, and ensured that exposed personnel enrolled in the Hearing Conservation Program before incorporating a custom-molded hearing protection contract. The initiative brought the highest quality, comfortable hearing protection to 199 employees over two years with 142 quotas slated for fiscal year 2020.

Safety initiative. He identified areas for improvement in NSWC Crane’s small-arms weapons division, immersing himself into the facility for six months to facilitate standard operating procedure updates, workplace safety training, incident prevention and facility repairs. This resulted in a 150% increase in near-miss reports, improving the division’s ability to conduct a trends analysis to identify hazard sources.

Engaging peers to transform safety culture. Selected as a member of an auditing team, Wood reviewed 13 programs over three days, including workplace verification visits. The best practice recommendations and corrections of identified nonconformities from this audit resulted in the command’s successful completion of an inspector general audit. Increased acceptance of collaboration across the Naval Sea Systems enterprise also occurred.

Personal belief in the value of safety. He personifies the significance of safety by prioritizing customers’ safety and health. He believes customer collaboration allows for practical solutions, where everyone can be active partners proactively identifying and preventing workplace hazards. Continuous planning, implementing, reviewing and adjusting organizational focus upon employee safety and health allows for uncompromised growth.

The NSC is a nonprofit, nongovernmental safety organization with which the Department of the Navy (DON) collaborates to advance a common goal of safety advocacy to eliminate the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. The DON actively engages with several NSC advocacy initiatives, including the Road to Zero Coalition, Work to Zero Advisory Council and Safe Actions for Employee Returns (SAFER) Task Force.