What is your role in mine safety and health, and how long have you been involved in this arena?
I am the Corporate Director of Health & Safety with the Hecla Mining Company, with U.S. and international responsibility for Hecla’s health and safety management systems. I have 38 years of mining, construction and energy industry experience, which includes health, safety, environment, security, operations, procurement and inventory control experience.
How does being a member of SME help support your career in safety and mining?
SME has supported my career as a safety and health professional through providing networking opportunities with other SME members, seminar courses for gaining knowledge on newly developed safety and health and technological innovations, and the SME library of information that is available to members. Also, SME encourages members to participate on various committees or submit papers for seminar courses within one’s professional discipline, which in return promotes networking, knowledge gain and experience, and sometimes leads to career advancements or new career opportunities.
What excites you about mine safety and health? What personal achievements in mine safety and health have made you proud?
I enjoy helping others succeed. I enjoy having opportunities each day to make a difference regarding the health and safety of individuals, and to ensure they return home safely each day. I am most proud of drastically reducing risk and lowering the number of employee injuries for every company that I have worked for, on a consistent basis. This has allowed employees to return home each day without injury. I am also proud that I obtained my Certified Mine Safety Professional (CMSP) certification.
What made you decide to pursue the CMSP credential?
I decided to pursue the CMSP certification because it gave credibility to me as a health and safety professional, and the certification ensures I am knowledgeable in all aspects of health and safety within the mining industry.
How do you think the CMSP credential is important for: The industry? Employers? Certificants? Communities around mining sites and/or communities in general?
The CMSP credential is important to industry, employers, certificants and communities because each of them benefit from an individual who is very knowledgeable in all aspects of health and safety practices and systems.
Many studies show that certified individuals tend to outperform non-certified individuals – do you agree with this in terms of mine safety and health?
Yes, I agree with this statement. An individual who holds the CMSP certification has taken an oath to serve and protect others from harm and to abide by good ethics at all times. Given the abovementioned, they are apt to be high performers and are driven to be successful.
Certifications are tied to objective demonstrations of competence. Does your company actively promote a culture of competence?
Yes, my company expects individuals to seek and obtain certifications in their discipline that ensures they are competent. Within our company safety and health management system, there is a module for competence.
What do you hope the future holds for yourself and for mine safety and health?
I hope the future of health and safety continues to grow with new advancements in technology, and injury rates continue to lower. For me, I hope I continue to gain health and safety knowledge that I can transfer to my company and all employees to ensure their health and safety.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this field?
To be patient and listen, and observe everyone for their health and safety practices. To follow your gut instinct when it comes to health and safety. Begin molding your health and safety morals and ethics by attaching yourself to those who hold health and safety in high regard. Plan out your health and safety career path with the intent of obtaining the CMSP certification. If you do this, you have the opportunity to become the best health and safety professional you could be.
Read more about Michael Wegleitner and the Certified Mine Safety Professional credential on the CMSP website.