Share Your Story: Zach Granzow
We are celebrating one of the many safety superheroes who protect employees and keep workplaces safe, Zach Granzow!
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 Zach Granzow
Zach Granzow is the safety and operations improvement manager at Mobile Track Solutions, a Construction Equipment Manufacturer located in Northeastern Iowa, where he is responsible for training, and optimizing the safety and productivity of operations.
Zach has worked in various industries, including chemical, animal pharmaceuticals, electrical transformer refurbishing and recycling, and cheese manufacturing. He has repeatedly increased productivity of operations simply by focusing on the people who drive the safety and quality of those operations, and believes that providing people with the right training and education is just as important as having the right people in the right positions.
Zach's Thoughts on Safety (and a Few Other Things)
Safeopedia: What's your safety origin story?
Zach: I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and my initial plan was to join the military and become a dentist. However, after being turned down by the military and going broke trying to get into dental school, I deployed my backup plan: becoming a quality control chemist.
Up to this point, I had never heard of occupational safety careers. After learning that safety professionals existed, I wanted to learn about their job and how it impacted mine. I started reading the 29 CFR 1910 - OSHA standards for general industry for fun. Once I learned about the regulations that would have an impact on my job, I started asking the safety manager how to best integrate them into the processes.
When I took an operations manager position, I started working on making sure the procedures were meeting safety expectations and that operators were properly instructed on how to safely perform their tasks. I also looked at ways to improve the safety and efficiency of the operations to make it simpler to perform the job successfully.
I found that I enjoyed doing the safety management and safety improvement tasks. My team and I focused on improving the overall safety and quality of our operations and we were able to improve our productivity as a result. Because of these efforts, I decided to change careers and become a safety professional.
Prior to becoming a safety professional, I would look at people who enjoyed their careers and had fun at work and wished I could have a career like that. Now, I’m living it; I’m enjoying what I do and I get to have fun every day. Even though I didn’t become a dentist, I’m still able to do what i wanted to do: have a positive impact on other people’s lives and help put a smile on their faces.
Safeopedia: From your experience, what do you believe it takes to be a successful safety professional?
Zach: I’ve worked in a wide range of industries and have discovered that a successful safety professional is a person who has a heart for the people. They help develop operations with safety integrated in the process, which makes it simple to do the tasks in a safe manner.
The safety professional relies on the operation experts to create a safe workplace. This requires building relationships with the operators and being able to relate to them on a personal level. I’ve found that as long as the end result is simpler and safe, it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.
Safeopedia: What do you do when you're off work?
Zach: I’m an intentional learner who enjoys reading books on leadership, personal growth and development, science fiction, strange history, and DIY engineering.
Outside of work, I like to grill and use my smoker to create wonderful, tasty food. I enjoy being outdoors tinkering on my motorcycle and fishing with my son. I’m active in my church and do volunteer work in my community.
My son and I have also been practicing taekwondo for about four years. It started as something we could do and learn together, and now it has become something that we look forward to continuing. As a black belt, I’ll be helping instruct at the dojang.
My hobbies consist of, but are not limited to, building Lego creations with my son, leather working, home building projects, and old-school graphic design such as free-hand lettering and pinstriping.
Safeopedia: Looking into your crystal ball, what do you predict will be the next big thing in safety?
Zach: Whether they hold a certification or not, safety professionals should be seeking out continuing education opportunities to stay relevant and up to date with the future advancements.
Where I see safety professionals needing to focus on preparation for the future is being able to speak and translate the language of the operator and the C-Suite. A safety professional doesn’t need to necessarily be able to balance a budget, but they do need to be able to show the ROI for safety and help determine which safety equipment is applicable and cost effective. They also need to take that information and help the operator understand how the decisions are impacting them as well as how they can help to drive safety improvements up.
Want to hear more from Zach? Check out his recent appearance in our Share Your Story series!