SH&E Generations: Kirk Davis

GenerationsWe are always looking for ASSE members to share their stories of following a parent into the SH&E profession or having a son or daughter follow in their footsteps of spreading the safety message. Here’s the story of Kirk Davis, a member of ASSE’s Colonial Virginia chapter.

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Kirk Davis’ father receives an award from the Union for the Accident Free in ’73 program.

My father was a P.E. and held a Civil Engineering degree from University of Colorado (via GI bill post World War II). He was assigned various management positions with the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad until  he was promoted to the company’s vice president for safety. While not new to safety in the early 70s it was still viewed as a nonmainstream discipline. However, my father made a science of it. He scoured the libraries, wrote off for books about safety culture, attended lectures and conferences and then changed what he could in the company. I still recall seeing the pocket protectors he had made up that read; “Accident Free in ‘73.”  Through his efforts and vision, his team significantly reduced the accident rates on the railroad and he received several awards and recognition from both the Union and company management.

Not long after that I was at the University of Colorado with a science degree, and a commission in the U.S. Navy as a navy diver and EOD officer. Since closing that chapter, I found myself following my father’s energy and passion into safety management, working for major environmental companies as well as in oil and gas. Safety management has changed significantly since then—for the better. Our career field has moved the clock ahead about 40 years, and it is a different culture today. However, I do ponder the effect a company slogan on pocket protector might have on even our statistics.