My Story: MRutheyi Thompson
I was raised by “The Safety Witch.” No, seriously, my mom was The Safety Witch. She went to elementary school classes in October dressed as a witch, and talked to the students about safety while going out to trick-or-treat. She volunteered in various safety-related ways throughout my formative years, but it never occurred to me that safety as a career was “a thing.”
I worked in various industries, in various capacities, in my teens and twenties. I went to college at 28, as a single mom, and became an environmental engineer. I have spent over 15 years in that profession; 20+ years working in hazardous materials/hazardous wastes. And still never considered safety as a career.
Until I took a temporary detail opportunity in northern California, supervising safety and security for several dam and power generation facilities. Everything in my life I had studied, learned on the job and witnessed from my mom fell into place like the final piece of a puzzle – and I knew then that I wanted to become a safety professional. That detail was six years before I finally was hired in the safety field, but I spent those six years honing my safety skills and knowledge, and applying for everything I could.
The defining moment during that detail that drove me to become a safety professional was when a near-miss occurred, with likely fatal potential, and I was able to turn it into a profound teaching moment for all the employees at each facility I supervised for safety. The realization that I could be the difference in someone’s life, keeping them safe from harm as well as protecting the people they worked with – it changed me forever. Knowing my work has daily import of great impact for my co-workers and their loved ones gives me an energy and joy for what I do that never ebbs.
I will always be an engineer, but being a safety professional is more rewarding personally than anything I could do as an environmental engineer.
MRutheyi Thompson, CESCO
Civil Environmental Engineer