SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Mike Strickland of Collins Bus Corp. has been named the 2010 Safety Professional of the Year by KellerOnline and OH&S Magazine.
Strickland serves as the environmental, health and safety manager for the Type A school and school activity bus manufacturer.
“This is a great honor for Mike, as well as a testament to the incredible dedication to safety by all of our employees at Collins Bus Corporation," President Kent Tyler said.
Tyler noted that the company's manufacturing includes a full metal fabrication shop, paint booth facilities, welding shops and assembly processes that rely heavily on power tools — "all of which adds up to plenty of potential safety hazard. Mike has done a great job to help the entire organization keep safe while building the best buses in the industry.”
When Strickland joined Collins in January 2008, the company had a recordable injury rate of 14.09 and a DART (Days Away, Restricted and Transferred) rate of 3.06. Over a two-year period and with the implementation of various safety programs, the recordable injury rate was reduced by 47 percent, and the DART rate was reduced by 73 percent.
The reductions in key safety metrics were achieved during a time when the production rates at the company increased to their highest level ever — jumping more than 30 percent. Collins officials said that Strickland's approach of "teaching safety, versus preaching it" has helped to transform the company into a safety and environmental leader.
The safety improvements also came despite the company's facilities being hit by natural disasters in the same period. There was a partial roof collapse due to heavy snow, extensive damage from a microburst — with winds exceeding 120 mph — and a lightning strike that damaged several chassis. No employees were injured during the events or the extensive clean-up efforts, in which team members handled shredded sheet metal and broken glass.
“I’m honored to receive this award. I have to credit the entire Collins team for their hard work, attention to detail, and for embracing a 'culture of safety,'” Strickland said.
He will receive the award during a ceremony at Keller’s headquarters in Neenah, Wis., in March.