Share Your Story: Mark-Anthony Williams
We are celebrating one of the many safety superheroes who protect employees and keep workplaces safe, Mark-Anthony Williams!
Safety involves carefully drafted policies, precise protocols, and mountains of protective gear. But above all, safety is about people.
That's why we have chosen to profile one of the many safety superheroes who do their part to keep workers safe, ensure the safety of the public, and protect the environment.
Meet Mark-Anthony Williams
Mark-Anthony Williams hails from the twin isle republic of Trinidad and Tobago where he spent his childhood. In 2011, his life was forever changed when he earned the opportunity to attend the illustrious Florida A&M University on a “Life Gets Better” Scholarship. He then went on to earn his MBA in Sustainability & Environmental Compliance from SNHU and his MS in Safety, Security and Emergency Management from EKU.
Over time, Mark-Anthony became a strong advocate for safety in the workplace. He has helped develop and maintain Safety Management Systems for organizations of all sizes, including small businesses and Fortune 50 companies. He is also an experienced safety trainer, and has taught hundreds of classes to employees of all levels.
Outside of work, Mark-Anthony enjoys martial arts (karate and Jiu jitsu), hitting the gun and archery range, volunteer work, home improvement projects, working out, and spending time with his son and their dog.
Mark-Anthony's Thoughts on Safety (and a Few Other Things)
Safeopedia: What has been your biggest challenge in safety and how did you overcome it?
Mark-Anthony: The greatest challenge I have faced to date is fostering a proactive safety culture within diverse workplaces.
In many instances, safety initiatives are reactive, only gaining attention after an incident has occurred. Shifting this mindset (from reactive to proactive) has been a formidable task. This is especially difficult in diverse environments where cultural nuances, language barriers, and varying attitudes towards safety exist. However, through consistent communication, regular training, and by leading with empathy, I have made significant strides in promoting a proactive, safety-first culture that transcends cultural and language barriers. This is a challenge I continue to embrace, knowing the importance of this shift for the well-being of all employees.
Safeopedia: From your experiences, what do you believe it takes to be a successful safety professional?
Mark-Anthony: Firstly, an in-depth understanding of safety regulations is key. However, the real differentiator lies in one's eagerness for lifelong learning to keep pace with evolving safety standards. Being meticulous in spotting and addressing potential risks is also paramount. Additionally, the ability to communicate effectively is critical in nurturing a culture where safety is a collective obligation. Finally, emotional intelligence and empathetic understanding play a significant role in managing difficult situations and motivating behavioral change.
In other words, a triumphant safety professional is part technical expert, part perpetual scholar, an efficient communicator, and an empathetic leader.
Safeopedia: Has there been anything that has really influenced you over the years?
Mark-Anthony: Throughout my journey, both personally and professionally, I've found inspiration and guidance from a variety of sources. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries has been particularly impactful. Ries' principles of validated learning, experimentation, and iterative product releases have informed my approach to implementing safety measures in the workplace. I have repurposed the concept of the "Minimum Viable Product" to create "Minimum Viable Safety Procedures," which are then iterated upon based on feedback and observed efficacy.
I've also found considerable insight into the works of renowned safety expert, Dr. Sidney Dekker. His thought leadership on "Just Culture" and "Safety Differently" has challenged traditional safety paradigms and deeply influenced my approach to safety management.
On a personal level, I draw inspiration from the philosophies and teachings of Jiu Jitsu. The emphasis on respect, discipline, and continuous learning within this martial art mirrors my approach to my professional life.
These diverse influences have all contributed to my growth and evolution as a safety professional, guiding my approach and informing my perspective.
Safeopedia: Looking into your crystal ball, what do you predict will be the next big thing in safety?
Based on my experiences and observations in the EHS field, I foresee that data analytics and predictive modeling will be the next big thing in safety. With the advent of Industry 4.0, the exponential growth of data, and advancements in artificial intelligence, we are at the precipice of a significant shift in how safety is managed.
Traditionally, safety measures have often been reactive, addressing issues post-occurrence. However, predictive safety analytics can shift this narrative, allowing for a more proactive approach. By leveraging AI and machine learning algorithms, organizations can predict potential safety risks before they occur. This approach involves the analysis of various data points, including accident records, near-miss reports, safety audits, and operational data, to predict potential areas of concern and implement preventive measures.
Moreover, wearable technology and Internet of Things devices are becoming more prevalent in the workplace. These technologies can provide real-time data on worker behaviors, environmental conditions, and equipment status, further augmenting predictive safety capabilities.
Additionally, with the increased focus on mental health, there will likely be an increased emphasis on psychosocial risk management. It recognizes that a safe workplace is not just about preventing physical injuries, but also about promoting mental well-being.
Thus, the future of safety, as I see it, will be significantly driven by data and digital technologies, heralding a more proactive, comprehensive, and predictive approach to workplace safety.
Safeopedia: Do you have any ideas for how we can make sure the profession is ready for what's coming in the future?
Embrace technology. Professionals in the EHS field must embrace new technologies such as AI, machine learning, IoT, and data analytics. It's crucial to be open to adopting these technologies for tasks such as risk assessment, incident reporting, and safety training. Continuous learning about technological advancements can enhance effectiveness and efficiency in safety management.
Develop forward-thinking policies that are not simply reactive but also proactive. This includes thinking about potential future risks (like those associated with remote work or new technologies) and incorporating mitigation strategies into current policies.
Promote interdisciplinary collaboration. Safety doesn't exist in a vacuum - it overlaps with many other fields, such as psychology, engineering, and environmental science. Fostering interdisciplinary collaboration can help safety professionals gain a more comprehensive understanding of risks and develop more effective safety strategies.
Want to hear more from Mark-Anthony? Check out his recent appearance in our Share Your Story series!