My Story: Gordon Anderson
I started working at a local foundry when I was 26; now I’m 53, I think. I started out grinding and, over a few years, covered almost every job in the plant, from pouring iron to shipping. After about three years, a posting for a job in wastewater came up with an opportunity to advance with further education. I jumped on it and loved the environmental aspects and all the training. I stayed in that job for about 20 years.
During that 20 years, with my manager being the environmental, health and safety manager, I took responsibilities in safety and received training in that field, as well as helped my manager get issues resolved on the shop floor. Over time, I began experiencing a lot of pain. I always just pushed it off as much as I could – until I couldn’t.
I ended up seeing a rheumatologist and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. A year later, the company noticed how hard it was for me to get around, and they told me I fell under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They said they would accommodate this by creating a position of assistant to the EHS manager. This was great, as it was easier on my body and I loved helping those I work with. But I had to learn things really fast – my manager wanted to retire. So I put my nose to the grindstone, learning as much as I could, then enrolled in a program in which I received an accredited Certified Occupational Safety Specialist. After a year or so, I applied for the EHS position and was lucky enough to be awarded the job. My manager is, at present, semi-retired and helping me from home as an unofficial compliance manager. All is great, yet challenging. And that’s my story.