December Member of the Month: John Dyer
VPPPA: Do you have any special hobbies/interests? If so, what are they?
John Dyer: I love spending time with my wife Janice and children Logan and Emma enjoying the outdoors and amusement parks. I am a big kid at heart and love the thrill of a roller coaster or being challenged to try new adventures.
VPPPA: What is/was your position and how long have you been in the position?
JD: For the past two years I have served as the health and safety director for Veolia North America’s waste management business unit, Environmental Solutions and Services. ESS helps customers in the industrial, commercial and governmental sectors safely manage waste and treat, recycle and dispose of hazardous and regulated wastes. Prior to this position, I served as an Environmental Safety and Health manager for Veolia ESS’s Mid Atlantic Branch, beginning in 2004.
VPPPA: What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
JD: I would say the greatest challenge was interviewing for the Environmental Health and Safety manager position in 2004. This role required me to not only concentrate on my own health and safety but also the health and safety of 130 employees, and potential environmental and transportation incidents.
I remember sitting and talking to the director of health and safety about his role in the company and saying “I would never want your role”… but today here I am and love what I do! This would not be possible without the support of Veolia ESS President and COO Bob Cappadona for trusting and enabling me to continue leading our health and safety, and VPP efforts.
Being in the EHS manager role for 13 years allowed me to challenge myself to make safety training fun, interactive and personal while developing new ways to train both senior and new employees. There is nothing better than to look into the eyes of an employee and see that "light bulb" look that you hit home with the training.
VPPPA: What is your most recent accomplishment?
JD: I had the honor this year of receiving two awards – the VPPPA Region III Mentor of the Year Award and the National VPP Outreach Award.
In 2017, I mentored 125 employees across six Veolia ESS facilities through the use of the Veolia VPP Gap Analysis Program, which helps identify areas of safety improvement in alignment with VPP qualifications. The program also encourages the sharing of ideas and lessons learned from previous VPP sites and applying them to new sites working towards the certification.
Even though I accepted these awards, they represent Veolia’s safety culture!
VPPPA: How did you get involved in the Safety & Health world?
JD: I would have to say by accident. The EHS manager position became open at Veolia so I took a chance and interviewed for the job 16 years ago. That opportunity has changed not only my life but my family's life forever. I have had the opportunity to train and guide many employees over this time frame. It means the world to me when I hear an employee tell me that they applied a work safety training at home while using the proper tools to complete the job!
JD: VPPPA has a power that cannot be described in one word. Once you attend a VPPPA conference you walk away with an energetic feeling to assist others in the pursuit to become safety leaders. The program is not only about becoming safer but also sharing ideas and making connections to others who share the same passion for safety. Many of the ideas that have been implemented at Veolia I acquired through onsite evaluations, breakout sessions or a new product from a vendor at a conference.
VPPPA: What has been your favorite aspect of the Association?
JD: My favorite aspect of VPPPA is networking with others about safety at the conferences. I would have never had the opportunity to join the Region III Board of Directors and meet so many great individuals with the same passion and commitment to safety if it was not for VPP and the VPPPA organizations. The board has allowed me to network with others across not only Region III but the entire country which has developed Veolia's safety program into the safety culture it is today.
VPPPA: What advice would you give to someone interested in the VPP or the VPPPA?
JD: Shoot for the stars and never say some of these phrases: I can't, I won't, and It is not my job... All of these phrases will be in every employee’s mind at some point in their career but you must overcome, change and adapt to the situations placed before you. Attend a VPPPA conference and feel the energy, passion and vibe around you. Lastly, once your facility becomes a VPP site become a Special Government Employee (SGE) or a Mentor as this is where the VPP program grows and shares ideas. VPP has changed my life and my family's life forever!