“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”
Brittany McGrath is fascinated by technical issues. She is also interested in the policy and legal aspects of safety and environmental work. Brittany combined both backgrounds and found her professional fulfillment in occupational safety and health at thyssenkrupp North America. For Brittany, it is an interesting mix. “You need to understand the technical aspects as well as the policies to address safety and environmental challenges.”
As the lead on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and Environmental topics at the North American Regional Platform in Chicago Mrs. McGrath has been managing various safety and health initiatives since 2017, but consulted for thyssenkrupp for three years before joining the thyssenkrupp family. Brittany’s job, together with her colleagues in the OSH department, is to prevent accidents in the workplace and ensure the health of employees; which requires her to assess potential hazards and take appropriate action where necessary.
More than a job
Yet Brittany’s path could have taken her in a completely different direction. “Would I ever have thought I would end up in this role? No, but I’m so fortunate! In my early schooling days, I wanted to work exclusively in the legal and policy space,” says Brittany. “The role I serve in now is far more rewarding, in my opinion, and provides me with interesting technical challenges that keep me on my toes.” Brittany holds to the motto of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States: “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”.
But above all, it’s working together with colleagues that Brittany finds fulfilling. “I believe the function of OSH is inherently cruicial in maintaining the wellbeing of our workforce, but I think it goes beyond that. Understanding how people work has always fascinated me. I like moving from the question ‘how is someone working’ and ‘is it safe’, to ‘why does that person work safely or not’. I truly like interacting with our employees on the floor and simply learning from them.”
Brittany takes the thyssenkrupp slogan “engineering. tomorrow. together.” literally. “The OSH community is what I immediately associate with ‘together’. We, as a collective group, support one another and share best practices to lift up our entire OSH program in North America. I appreciate that many of our OSH colleagues came into the role from a different background, be it production, human resources, training, etc. So we each bring something to the table.”
Challenge of COVID-19
This attitude helped her in managing arguably one of the biggest challenges of our time. As COVID-19 began to spread worldwide, Brittany stepped up to the plate: “In early 2020y I came back from maternity leave and started to hear more and more about this virus. At a certain point, I realized it would be important to have our Regional Country Platform tracking the regional developments and helping the business to prepare and keep employees safe.”
With great commitment and foresight, Brittany brought together people from various areas to launch measures to counter the spread of COVID-19. Our team came together, provided a platform for businesses to discuss pandemic planning measures, and then developed materials and templates for the businesses. . “The businesses benefited from the materials we were able to provide during this highly stressful time.
Identifying potential hazards early
As of late, the special challenges that fascinate her about her job are all about seeing how technology can be used to prevent serious injuries in the workplace. After all, conditions in the field of occupational safety are changing constantly. “These days there are many more technological tools available that not only identify and limit risks; they can also predict injuries before they happen,” says Brittany. “Predictive safety tools can help us better understand how our employees interact with hazards; that data becomes very powerful and can help mitigate high-risk areas or activities. I am working with our businesses in the region to answer the question – where will my next injury occur and what can we do about it?”
While this past year has met with a lot of challenges and health impacts to our regional community, Brittany is optimistic about the year ahead. “We have proved to be far more resourceful and resilient than we ever thought possible, and I look forward to see what we do with that energy in the year ahead”.