Thomas Loughman, YP Awards & Honors Chair
Were safety and health part of your work responsibilities since the beginning of your career?
I have always had safety and health responsibilities throughout my career. Earlier in my career, however, they played a smaller role, as I was tasked with construction project management duties, including budget, schedule, subcontracting and procurement.
What field of study did you start in as a student, and if it was not in SH&E initially, what made you change career paths?
I attended Keene State College where I decided upon management early on as my focus. It was my intention to advance in the construction and project management career path and to be a developer later in my career. In my time there, it became evident that Keene State had a very strong safety program in part because of its affiliation with OSHA as an OSHA Training Institute.
Safety was a great skill set for anyone in the construction industry, and I wanted to be a well-rounded professional. After taking a few courses, I became very interested in all of the great opportunities the career path had to offer and in just how rewarding the work was.
Were any previous jobs critical in bringing you to your current position?
I took a position at an Air Force base working for a contractor that provided base operations and support services, civil engineering and heavy construction project management. This position opened my eyes to other aspects of the SH&E profession. I was tasked with an ever-growing list of responsibilities and duties. In addition to managing a complex set of compliance challenges, which included local, state, federal, corporate, Air Force and contractual requirements, I learned much about what it takes to succeed in a corporate environment.
What are some of your most valuable and memorable accomplishments, either personal or professional?
During my time as the environmental, safety and health manager at that same Air Force base, I saw a massive surge in workload due to federal stimulus funding. My staff grew, and we took on the daunting task of overseeing the most construction work ever completed in a single year in the base’s history. My staff and I rose to the occasion and went more than 400 days without a recordable incident as well as never suffering a lost-time case.
In my current position as the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Manager for URS Federal Services, I recently led a project team to develop a new and improved new hire program for SH&E. Our organization hires thousands of people each year, and the need to reach these new employees and effectively bring them into our mature SH&E culture was one of our top priorities. Our team spent a few months identifying best practices in the industry as well as developing some new ones of our own.
A few months ago, we implemented that program throughout our organization, impacting more than 16,000 employees just this year. Having the opportunity to impact that many people’s lives and to convey the importance of safety was a real honor.
As an HSE professional, does anything set you apart from others in your approach and/or philosophy to safety and health management?
I have read other SH&E professionals’ articles and books that share my opinions. I believe that to excel in this profession and to be a leader in the field, you need much more than SH&E knowledge. You need superior communication and interpersonal skills to effectively obtain buy-in from your workforce and commitment from your operational leadership. You also need to be somewhat of a Swiss army knife and have a good understanding of databases, management information systems, collaboration tools, IT concepts and the ability to develop and deliver presentations that are appropriate to you audience.
What are the greatest challenges you find in your current position?
My greatest challenges include:
*Designing processes that automate and streamline our ability to gather, measure and interpret data to assist us in making decisions.
*Conceptualizing strategic initiatives to share with other members of our SH&E leadership team that provide solutions for our greatest needs in the short and long term.
*Maintaining a balance between meeting the demands of my job, devoting time to my own professional development and spending time with my family and friends.
Throughout the rest of your career, how do you plan to develop yourself professionally?
In 2010, I took the STS, CHST, OHST, ASP and CSP exams and achieved all certification in two months’ time. It took a huge effort and much sacrifice to succeed in that goal. When I was finished, I set a few new ones, including enrolling in a master’s degree program, obtaining CHMM certification and volunteering more of my time toward ASSE leadership roles.
How did you initially hear of and join ASSE?
I heard all about ASSE in college and set an early career goal of obtaining my CSP as soon as possible and becoming a professional member of the Society. My professors at Keene State very actively encouraged ASSE participation as student members.
Are you affiliated with any other SH&E-related organizations?
Through my company’s membership, I am actively engaged in utilizing the National Safety Council’s member resources to our benefit.
What special hobbies or interests do you have outside of work?
I enjoy running, working out, participating in adventure races, traveling with my wife and real estate.