Globe University student, Elisabeth Woltjers believes in a safety-first approach, especially when it comes to a dangerous work environment such as oil refining. Woltjers, a student in the health fitness specialist degree program, worked in the oil refining business for seven years and says part of the inspiration behind her applied learning project was a firsthand experience of losing a coworker due to improper safety training.
While enrolled in her professional communications course taught by Jena Klein, one of Woltjer’s assignments was to complete an applied learning project. The purpose of such a project is to encourage students to use skills that they’ve learned in the classroom by putting them to work in real-life scenarios.
Woltjers eventually decided she would use her communication skills to develop a more in-depth safety meeting platform known as Tool Box. Woltjers says, “I took an outdated and failing safety meeting system and gave it a complete overhaul to ease access, and availability to new and updated safety meeting topics.”
Woltjers says she was able to revamp the Tool Box meeting platform a few different ways. First, she says she had to change the sign-in form. The previous form had become ineffective and was not manageable among the various crews that were utilizing the form. So, Woltjers created a prepopulated form that eased access among trainees by having their names and employee numbers readily available.
Another aspect Woltjers wanted to tackle was increasing the amount of safety information as it pertains to their specialized industry. Woltjers says, “I talked with operating engineers from Texas, New Mexico and even our closest competitor in Rosemount. Each topic was designed with current news and attachments to enrich learning; all of which is now easily accessible online.”
So what sort of professional communication skills did Woltjers use in her project?
She says, “I was able to pull materials from this course using different methods of communication to speak with various people in positions much higher than mine. Each email, letter or conversation I had I was able to use a skill from this course. The most utilized skill was being able to critique my own emails and correspondence with a keener eye. Asking myself, is this line redundant? Am I being wordy without cause? The clean, edited versions of my correspondence showed a much clearer, concise message.”
Overall, Woltjers says she is proud of her applied learning project, “The safety of my former coworkers and the families within the community will always be important to me, as it should be to everyone. A refinery is a volatile and dangerous place where lives can be lost in an instant. I’ve seen it firsthand, and I’ve felt the pain of losing a coworker due to a lack of training. If I, in anyway, can contribute to a system that will stop an accident before it happens, it will be worth it.”