USWTMC Trainer Receives National Safety and Health Award

USW Tony Mazzocchi Center (USWTMC) trainer and safety activist Michael Horton received one of two nationwide 2020 Safety and Health Outreach Awards from the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA).

Horton, a Local 1-689 member, is a  maintenance mechanic for Portsmouth Mission Alliance, LLC (PMA), the infrastructure support services contractor at the former U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uranium enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio. He has worked at the site for more than 30 years.

PMA nominated him for the award, and USWTMC coordinator David Cassady wrote a letter of recommendation for Horton, who also writes a lot of health and safety curriculum with USWTMC’s Diane Stein.

“It’s well-deserving,” Cassady said. “Mike does a very good job. I think he is one of the best out-of-the-box thinkers. He thinks about how to do things better that may be different, but work well.”

Pictured: Michael Horton, standing against the fence, instructs clean-up workers after Hurricane Katrina damaged the Gulf Coast.

One example is his hazard mapping program. Horton created a database in 2009 when he was a full-time safety representative with Local 1-689.

Called the Hazard Tracker, it lists the hazards, a timeline for fixing them and the date they were abated. Workers learn how to analyze and categorize hazards identified during a facility inspection, and plot those hazards on a facility map. They correct minor deficiencies immediately, and enter into the work control process longer term fixes

“I believe that every one of us has a moral obligation to make our workplaces as safe as possible,” Horton said. “This begins with properly identifying hazards, reporting them and having them properly abated. Strong health and safety training is instrumental in accomplishing this. We all deserve the right to have safe working environments not only for ourselves, but also for our Brothers and Sisters as well.”

Since 2003, Horton has also served as a worker trainer for the USWTMC, and is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outreach trainer and an OSHA master trainer.

Positive results

He said he’s seen positive results of his health and safety training at the Portsmouth site.

“People understand how to request samplings, use their stop work authority and recognize hazards,” Horton said. “It helps contractors understand that you fix the hazards and not the worker. I’ve seen lots of changes about people understanding their rights, especially under 10 CFR 851 (DOE’s worker safety and health program).”

PMA also nominated Horton because of his extensive community outreach, which Horton said is some of the most fulfilling work he does.

Horton teaches general industry training at vocational-technology schools and helps adults with special needs enter the workforce.

Pictured: Michael Horton (right) instructs students at Pike County Community College.

“Not only is he an exceptional safety professional,” wrote the PMA in its nomination, “but also a tremendous inspiration to our community.”

Horton will be recognized during the VPPPA 2021 conference in Nashville.

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