My Story: Randy S. Milliron
More than 20 years ago, I was a parts cleaner/truck driver for a 50-person machine, weld and electrical motor repair facility in northeast Wyoming that serviced the oil fields and local coal mines within a 200-mile radius. At the time, I’d been asked to start a quality control program for a large electrical motor and hydraulic cylinder manufacturer acquired by the business. The reasons why they promoted me was because they didn’t pay me very much and I had computer skills.
After six months in the new position, I was called into the general manager’s office. He informed me that the safety coordinator had put in two weeks’ notice and wondered if I wanted to take on the safety responsibilities. “Does it come with a pay raise?” I asked. When the GM affirmed it did, I accepted it on the spot.
I spent the next 10 years learning the rules and regulations that governed our operations, from OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Environmental Quality in five Western states. I really enjoyed working with our employees, local safety vendors and our coal mine clients. I didn’t realize at the time how much credibility I had over the past safety coordinator because I came from the shop floor and was “one of the guys.” We created a great safety culture over those years through our advanced behavior-based safety process and my relationships with our employees and local OSHA technical assistance representatives.
After those initial 10 years, I decided to make the leap to safety supervisor for one of the local coal mines. It was quite a shock to go from a small repair facility to a 500-person surface coal mine, which produced more than 33 million tons of coal a year. I quickly realized one of my main duties was to accompany our local MSHA inspectors around our mine when they showed up. I worked with plant technicians, shop mechanics and operators to correct any violations the inspectors observed. When you spend as many days with the various MSHA inspectors as I did over those years, you really develop a keen eye for spotting hazards. They did so much to improve my overall safety knowledge.
Another unique opportunity presented itself when I was told that I was going to oversee the monthly training for our 60-plus-member surface mine rescue team. I absolutely loved every aspect of preparing our team to help during emergencies at our mine. I developed annual MSHA training and monthly mine rescue training at three local coal mines for more than 10 years.
Recently, I took another step in my safety career when I accepted the job of safety manager for our local city government. This has been one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve ever experienced in my safety profession.
In looking back over these past 20 years, it’s amazing to see how many people helped me along the way to be a better safety representative. I’m enjoying these latter years of my career and am so glad I made that decision in my GM’s office so long ago to start my safety career. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I cherish the relationships it helped create over the years.
Randy S. Milliron