"It was a humbling experience for me because when they told me I had been nominated for the Guiding Light Award -- that's an award given to a society member that's sort of provided the most assistance and help throughout the year -- I told them there's a whole lot more worthy individuals than Danney Pickard. But that was their choice," said Pickard, safety/human resources director for Chemical Products Corp. and a past president for the ISMSP's Georgia Chapter. "I try to pass along information about the safety positions, safety topics. I have a contact list. I email about 300 people several times a week [with information] that will help them [like] job openings.
"One of the blessings I got out of it was a friend ... [whose] new boss came in and told him he was no longer needed. He sat at his desk and said, 'What am I going to do?' He remembered the email I had sent him about two days before about a job position. He interviewed for it and beat out 133 other safety people to get that position. The downside, he had to move from Georgia to Minnesota. But that's some of the help that I try to provide. Because I told them at the awards ceremony, 'I made a choice several years ago. I could [just] sit around at our annual conference and gripe about the leadership and how it ought to be different, but I chose to do something about it by providing help in any way I can.' That's my philosophy."
Pickard accepted the accolade during the ISMSP's award ceremony at Daytona Beach, Fla., in mid-May.
"You are receiving the International Society of Mine Safety Professionals' Guiding Light Award by your peers for the state-of-the-art quality individual you are and the guiding light you have been to the society and the individual members of the society according to the highest standard set by your fellow safety professionals," wrote Tom Vanderwalker, awards chairman for ISMSP, in a letter to Pickard. "This recognition is the respect from people who voted for you and consider your reputation in the mining safety and health arena and the written nomination before them.
"All of the evaluators are extremely competent safety professionals in their respective fields, including consulting, contracting, potash, gold, copper, mining reclamation, sand and gravel and more. Congratulations to you for your tireless dedication in building a positive, safety and health culture making a marked difference in the lives of all employees and foremost leading by example. Your light has brightened the light for safety and health success in so many others."
Pickard joined the ISMSP's Southeastern Chapter in 1999, when he was the safety/human resources manager for Georgia Marble Co., becoming the organization's first Certified Mine Safety Professional. Currently serving as secretary of the Georgia Chapter, he has held numerous leadership positions in the ISMSP, including presently being a member of its executive committee.
As the safety/human resources director for Chemical Products Corp. since about 2002, Pickard has helped lower the Cartersville company's incident rate from an average of 18.0 for 15 years to 0.64 in six years.
"Every company calculates incident rates the same way," Pickard said. "It's the number of accidents you have times 200,000 divided by the man-hours worked. ... If somebody has a high number you know they [are not] doing too good. If they have a real low number, they're doing some things right. But the number you want is zero and zero is obtainable but it's only obtainable if it's a team sport where everybody believes it and everybody does everything they can to achieve zero."
At Chemical Products, Pickard attributes the incident rate's decrease to helping to employees care about and look out for their coworkers.
"We have rotating shifts here [for] our production team," said Pickard, who also is a certified OSHA Train-the-Trainer. "They'll work 48 hours one week and 36 hours the next and it averages out 42. But what they do is the longest period of time they work is four days -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then that particular crew is off for eight days, comes back on Friday-night week and then they'll work I think four nights. Then they're off and it cycles back like that every month.
"And what I started doing when I came here is coming back to work at 6:30 in the evening to meet that crew that had been off for a week and sit there and chat and have a meeting with them about safety because what's in their minds when they come back [is] Gatlinburg, Panama City, wherever they've been and whatever they've done. What's not on their minds is what's going on in the plant that night. ... So here's the question I would pose to them, what decisions are you going to make when you walk out that door out of that training room into the workplace to get their mind set back on work. ... [Now they] have that mindset about we are really special people and we should care about each other and we should look out for one another."