My Story: Andrea R. Anderson
All my life I was preparing for a career in safety without even knowing it.
I first remember hearing the word “safety” when my dad, a welder at the American Crystal Sugar Co., was on the safety committee. I remember safety was always featured at the annual company picnic. This was 30-plus years ago!
Later in life, my stepdad owned a construction company, and I learned about ensuring the safety of the employees and state and federal regulations. My mom has owned an A&W restaurant and a local retail store – where I was a manager in my 20s and early 30s – for more than 20 years. All these experiences taught me the importance of working safe and taking care of people. My parents are the ones who got me started and interested in safety and, most importantly, taking care of employees.
When I was in my 30s, I was feeling the need for a new challenge beyond retail. One day, I was looking at the local college’s website and saw a course that interested me: environmental health and safety. I looked into what the classes were and what kind of employment options were available with the degree. I was hooked.
I first graduated with an associate degree in EHS in 2012 from Duluth Business University. After graduation, I was hired by UPS as a preload supervisor. About eight months later, I was offered a job at a local construction company, Charps, which constructs and maintains oil, gas and by-product pipelines, as a safety coordinator. I have worked at Charps for the past five years and am now the safety director.
Two years after starting at Charps, I went back to school and obtained my bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health, along with a certificate in environmental management from Columbia Southern University. In 2015, I earned the CHST certification and completed upon graduation in 2017 the ASP and CSP certifications. I intend to further my education by starting this year working toward the ARM certification.
I could not have advanced as fast as I did without the guidance and influence of mentors. If you have the chance to have a mentor, whether it is a co-worker or someone you reach out to, embrace the opportunity. There is always something to learn from others.
I enjoy the safety profession and the friendships I have made along the way. The crews and other employees have become like family.
The way my dad brought safety home to me, I have brought safety home to my family. My daughter doesn’t start the lawn mower without first putting on her safety glasses and hearing protection. It’s about more than being safe on the job – safety follows you down the highway, at the grocery store or in the movie theater. It’s everywhere once you’re aware of it. I am glad I chose to become a safety professional and look forward to what the future holds for all of us safety professionals.
Andrea R. Anderson, CSP, CHST