My Story: Edwin W. Thompson, AS, ARM, CSP-retired
Over time, I’ve met people in the occupational safety and health field who entered it by chance, inadvertent circumstances or other-than-intentional preparation.
My career started rather unknowingly at an early age. I was born with an insatiable curiosity about everything around me. What’s that? How does this work? What happens if I do this? What does that thing do? What causes this? Why? This was followed by intense interests in science, physics, chemistry and forces of nature while I was in high school.
A fatal explosion at a gasoline distribution terminal in our town sparked curiosity. Why? It turned out to be a lesson in static electricity as well as the importance of electrical grounding and bonding when transferring flammable liquids.
In a later incident, one of my classmates was electrocuted near an underwater light fixture in a swimming pool. This lesson was about the conductivity of water and the specifics of electrical precautions. Resulting from this incident were changes in codes that required low-voltage transformers and proper grounding around novelty lighting applications – all basic principles that are geared toward hazard recognition and prevention. By then, I was hooked on the concept of prevention through the knowledge and understanding of science and physics.
In the U.S. Navy Submarine Service, proper operation and maintenance of complex machinery, cross-training, and teamwork are top priorities for the safety of the ship and the crew. Knowledge of buoyancy, pressures and temperatures, and proper handling of combustibles are all essential. Learning from experienced leaders and teaching to newer crew members becomes the norm in our operations.
Through friends and associates, safety conventions, and seminars, I entered the insurance industry loss control service, providing these same activities for a wide variety of businesses and industries among our insured clients. In a humorous summary, the rest of my career covered everything from mom-and-pop grocery stores to the launch towers at the Kennedy Space Center. The primary focus was to provide operational information to our company for underwriting purposes, and provide our clients with information and training in general safety, defensive driving, risk management and fire protection.
Although retired now, I’m still active with U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc., the National Fire Protection Association and American Society of Safety Professionals. I also have had some speaking engagements to local AARP groups and senior retirement communities.
“Still dedicated to preservation of life and property.”
Edwin W. Thompson, AS, ARM, CSP-retired