My Story: Barbara A. Greene
I sold products for most of my adult life. One day I received a voicemail from a company called GPS about an open business development position it had. My first thought was, “No thank you. I don’t want to work for a temporary staffing agency.” Then I thought, “OK, you fool, God is presenting you with an open door to help the unemployed become employed by possibly joining GPS.”
I’d always wanted to make a difference in someone’s life, and by entering the temporary workforce world as a business developer, I’d be able to connect people with jobs, providing someone the chance to change their life. So, I jumped through the open door. This decision changed my future.
Working for GPS as a business developer, I chose to work with host employers who were safety aware. I wanted to make a positive change to peoples’ lives by providing an employment environment that promoted a culture centered on safety and staff. Then, two years into my employment, GPS decided to create a safety specialist position. I applied, begged for the position and was promoted. At that moment, the real challenge presented itself: How do I effectively create training, programs and policies that would benefit the entire GPS staff located at vastly different host employer environments without any formal safety training myself?
I immediately made an appointment with South Carolina OSHA Compliance Manager Anthony Wilks. Mr. Wilks and his staff provided me with the guidance and direction I needed to ensure I went about my tasks to develop programs for the safety of the GPS staff. The National Safety Council Southeastern Chapter also provided me with educational classes to become an added safety resource to our clients and staff. Wendy Padgett, director of workplace safety and health for the NSC chapter, has been an incredible mentor over the past five years of this journey. Now I have my Advanced Safety Certificate through NSC and OSHA 30-hour card, and I’m a first aid/CPR/AED instructor through NSC.
Also, most of the recruiters, regional account managers, relationship navigators, corporate staff and management at GPS have OSHA 10-hour training as an additional layer of safety knowledge to provide to our temporary employees and host employers.
As the safety specialist for GPS, I tour every light industrial environment before we send anyone to work at a host employer’s worksite, along with follow-up visits every six months while someone is on assignment. I’ve learned that safety is ever-changing based on environments, and that the questions to ask and things to look for in a host employer’s policies and procedures are different based on the environment. One thing that never changes is experiencing the host employer’s environment to determine if safety is just a compliance word or if it’s a culture.
The responsibility of the safety of so many people in various types of environments weighs heavily on my decisions every day. The CEO of GPS, Nanci Fields (one of NSC’s 2020 CEOs Who “Get It”), says, “You are passionate about what you do,” and what I do affects lives every day. I would not change this safety journey that has chosen me.
As we say at GPS, we’re not in the staffing business to become rich. We’re here to make a difference in someone’s life. If every GPS employee goes home in the same condition they arrived at work today, then I made a difference in someone’s life.
Barbara A. Greene
HSE Compliance and Training Director