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For Patrick Bucksot, the road to becoming a safety specialist began shortly after being hired at a phosphate mining and chemical plant 30 years ago. At the time, he would have never guessed his career would put him in a safety specialist position. However, the preparations of life often seem to put us in places we never expect. In recent years, the desire to become more involved with both personal and group safety became more evident. Several safety specialist positions came open and Patrick applied for each one. Although the desire was acknowledged, he was turned down for each of those positions. Patrick's resume displayed great effort and safety involvement. Patrick needed more to get beyond the word "No."

At the phosphate mining and chemical company where Patrick works, they provide many opportunities for safety training. The company trains its employees through mandatory annual safety training, engages them weekly during safety team leader meetings and various other types of training. This is just the start of how this company promotes the many safety systems that are in place to help their employees go home in the same condition that they arrive to work.

Before Patrick ever heard about OSHAcademy, he used to believe that my involvement in safety projects and teams were enough to take him to the next level. After being turned down for those safety specialist positions he decided to obtain more training and education. A couple of years ago he heard about OSHAcademy and the quality of training they provide and began to take advantage of this opportunity. Patrick has since completed all 10 general industry certificate programs and is currently enrolled in the 192 hour Construction Safety and Health Professional program because there are aspects within this training that can cross over into the industrial setting.

Through OSHAcademy, Patrick discovered Columbia Southern University (CSU) and the learning partnership between the two groups. Through CSU, Patrick received their 2018 Safety Scholarship to pursue a degree in Occupational Safety and Health. While all of the training has challenged him, Patrick believes it has all been worth the effort because he now has a safety specialist job and the opportunity to share both knowledge and his work experience to everyone with whom he comes into contact with at work.

During Patrick's 30-year career, he has worked in various rolls from chemical plant operator, maintenance mechanic/millwright, maintenance supervisor and planner. He has been actively involved in promoting the concept that employees don't have to work around unsafe conditions. Because if this belief, with training and varied experience, he was able to consistently produce projects and ideas to improve employee safety in the various work areas he has been assigned.

During the interview process, Patrick was asked, "Why do you want to become a safety specialist now?" He responded with, "The crew I work with is now in a position to be ready for me to leave. Meaning, I have promoted the idea that safety projects help us remove certain obstacles for us to work safe and now there are guys in the crew who firmly believe and are engaged in this process." Patrick was motivated enough to share his vision to his co-workers and they happily joined in the process.

Another question Patrick was asked was how to deal with difficult people. Patrick said he has dealt with difficult people throughout his career, and not always successfully. What he learned from those mistakes was that trying to maintain a level head in any situation is the key to helping resolve frustration. He said being kind always works. While that isn't always easy in tough situations, it is always best to treat others the way you want to be treated.

The interview process was actually quite grueling for him as he endured five separate interviews. He said by the last interview his mind started getting a little exhausted from the questioning. The interviewers were all engaging and seemed highly interested in what Patrick could, and was willing to bring to the safety department.

Patrick says anyone wanting to step into this field of work should be prepared to show as much effort in safety and to get the job as they have in interest in receiving the job. Anything worth having is worth working for. That is a basic element of life. Patrick would encourage anyone to work with OSHAcademy and Columbia Southern University if they desire to receive quality safety training.

After a month on the job Patrick believes he has finally started working in the best job he has ever had. He doesn't believe this because he just likes what he does, but has the fulfilling and purposeful opportunity to help co-workers and contractors work safely.

Patrick Bucksot, Safety Specialist (North Carolina, USA)