Empowering Pumps & Equipment works hard to shine a light on the PEOPLE behind the pumps and pumping systems. The Food & Beverage industry has millions of superheroes that kept us all going throughout some incredible times, but today we’re going to shine the spotlight on Kasey Wesley, the Environmental, Health, and Safety Coordinator at Founders Brewing Co.! Here is what she wanted to share:
“While attending school at Grand Valley State University, I was originally pursuing a degree in the medical field. Over the course of three years, I changed my degree path four times. I reached a point where I felt like a medical career wasn’t sparking my interest as much as another industry could. I just didn’t know what that industry was yet! I found out about the safety industry and was surprised that it was something I didn’t think of before. Growing up, I was always the “safety nerd” who made sure my friends would look both ways before crossing the street, volunteered as a “safety” in elementary school to help assist students on and off the bus, and even dressed up as a “Super Safety” for Halloween in 4th grade. Even in college I was a crossing guard on campus! So reflecting on my life, I realized safety had always been a passion of mine and I just didn’t even know it. The same day I had this realization was the same day I applied for GVSU’s Occupational Safety and Health Management program. During my final year in the program, I interned with Founders Brewing Co., which led to a full-time position as their EHS Coordinator upon graduation.
The thing I love most about my job is being able to use problem-solving skills and creativity to find solutions to keep others safe. I really enjoy being able to work with the employees who are on the floor since they’re the ones performing the hazardous tasks. That’s why I think it’s important to work with them, keep them involved in the incident prevention process, and listen to their ideas and concerns to create and implement effective and safe solutions. They usually have solutions and ideas of their own that they’ve thought of while doing the job, so I really value their input. If you listen to what they have to say, you can come up with a solution that is safe and is something the user will actually want to do. Doing this builds trust to the point where the employees feel comfortable voicing other safety concerns that they’ve had. This creates an opportunity to solve a problem that you may not have ever known about if that employee had not communicated it. I’d say that’s what I’m most proud of – having that trust built with the employees.
Another fun fact about me – I received my stormwater operator certification after completing an Environmental Regulations class at GVSU and passing EGLE’s Stormwater Operator exam. Within my EHS department at work, the EHS Manager and Sustainability Coordinator handle the majority of the stormwater compliance. But as a new EHS professional, I enjoy being able to assist and learn from them! Through working with Founders, I’ve had opportunities to volunteer with Alliance for the Great Lakes. Founders supports causes that value protecting clean water and the environment, so our sustainability coordinator has created volunteering events with Alliance for the Great Lakes over the years. This creates opportunities for our employees to help protect the water we make our beer with so it’s very important to us! With Alliance for the Great Lakes, we’ve been able to help clean up local state parks. These clean-up events have always been a lot of fun because we get to enjoy some time outside together while benefiting our environment. We usually hang around after the clean-ups to enjoy a lunch or even the beach!
I would advise someone who is new to this field to never stop learning. Some people think that once you get a degree, that’s it and you’re done. That’s very limiting! Industries and safety are always changing and advancing; whether it’s with technology or standards. That means your learning should never stop. To do this, you need to act like a ‘sponge’ and absorb as much as you can from other safety professionals, attend safety conferences, read that safety magazine you subscribed to and forgot about, join a professional safety organization like ASSP (American Society of Safety Professionals), or even just listen to a safety-related podcast. Doing these things will increase your knowledge, spark creativity, and make you an effective safety professional who can stand out among others.”
Thank you, Kasey, for the great work you’re doing with Founders and the Great Lakes Alliance, as well as being a role model for young professionals everywhere!