Safety professionals recognized at 2019 NSC Congress and Expo

  • Published
  • By Josh Aycock
  • Air Force Safety Center

Three Air Force safety professionals were recognized for outstanding achievements in the safety profession at the National Safety Council’s 2019 NSC Congress and Expo held Sept. 6-11, in San Diego.

Troy Armstead, a 9/11 survivor and retired safety professional, was recognized during the Congress Expo’s opening ceremony, which paid tribute to military members and first responders impacted by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. During those events, he ensured a safe egress of the former 11th Wing commander, ensuring timely establishment of the crisis action team responsible for responding to the events.

Armstead’s recognition in this forum was especially fitting given that he served the Air Force safety community for over 30 years. He served 20 years and eight months in uniform. During that time, Armstead was awarded the safety professional of the year by four separate major commands.

“Air Force safety is important to me because as a young airman, my first job was a nuclear weapon short range attack missile and air launched cruise missile specialist. We did nothing without safety first.”

Armstead additionally served 17 years in the capacity of a Department of the Air Force civilian, working directly for the Air Force Chief of Safety office. In this role, he developed Air Force guidance for the service-wide deployment of safety personnel, providing deployed commanders with more than 800 safety personnel worldwide.

“For 35 years of my life, I’ve put safety first with the help of the National Safety Council. I’ve reduced injuries, decreased days away from work, promoted a culture of safety and sent people home the same way they came to work – whole,” Armstead said.

During the opening session, the NSC presented its top safety award, the Distinguished Service to Safety Award, to Michael Ballard, Air Force Safety Center’s acting chief of occupational safety. The NSC awards the DSSA as a lifetime achievement recognition to standout safety professionals who have changed the face of safety within their scope of influence.

“The Distinguished Service to Safety Award winners have been instrumental in shaping their organization's culture around safety,” said Sarah Van Huis, NSC Awards and Scholarships program manager. “They have provided steady leadership to those around them by setting an example and believing that safety is the best way to do business. Honoring individuals focused on improving safety among our military is especially rewarding, because those lessons spread through service members’ communities as well.”

Ballard’s career spans more than four decades. His accomplishments include being the driving force behind saving more than 900 Airmen’s lives, establishment of the Air Force Safety Management System and an 86% reduction of off-duty fatalities.
“I’ve worked alongside some tremendous colleagues and my safety journey was also a contributor to this award,” Ballard said. “Over the years I had the challenging, good fortune to work not only occupational safety, but also had assignments involving safety program work in weapons, explosives, aviation and risk management. This diversity in work helped me grow to understand how all components of the Air Force safety program plays into the larger organizational mission success.”

Also recognized for his safety achievements was Master Sgt. Jeremy Nixon, who received the NSC’s Rising Star of Safety Award during the National Awards Celebration. Nixon’s dedication to safety initiatives was the driving factor to receiving the award. Nixon managed a mishap prevention program consisting of 45,000 personnel and $99 billion in assets that resulted in three consecutive years of mishap reductions.

“It is a great honor to be recognized as one of the NSC Rising Stars of Safety. NSC is one of the premiere safety organizations in the world,” Nixon said. “There are a lot of smart and driven safety professionals throughout the industry who impress all the time with their technical knowledge and enthusiasm. It is difficult to stand out amongst such terrific people. The only reason I was able to stand out is through the daily assistance of my friends, family, co-workers and mentors.”

The National Safety Council developed the Rising Stars of Safety to help highlight up-and-coming safety professionals. Winners show leadership in safety and bring new ideas to existing problems at their organizations. The Air Force is the only organization, federal or industry, which has had a member recognized every year since its inception in 2010.

"National Safety Council award winners don't just aim to check off a box for safety, these leaders understand that they must prioritize safety at every level of decision making,” said Lorraine Martin, president and chief executive officer of the National Safety Council. “We are proud to honor each of our nominees and our incredible winners, all of whom are committed to working alongside NSC to eliminate preventable deaths in our lifetime."

The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by collaborating with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.