Uptegrity was founded by an engineer whose career in safety and industrial hygiene has followed synergistic paths through the US Navy, academia, industry, government, and healthcare.
Johnson began in an operational environment, in a nuclear submarine. Shift work was 24/7. He performed the most basic maintenance to exercising supervisory responsibility for the operation of a reactor, high pressure steam systems, electrical generation, oil, fuel and diesel operation, HVAC systems, sewer systems, even the equipment that made drinking water from sea water. He learned and used systematic safety principles relevant to every industry. This extensive experience provides Uptegrity with the foundation for assessing and mitigating risk in real operational environments.
Proprietor’s Monograph on Safety
Safety. We all want it. Policy requires it. Nobody wants to argue against it. But what is it?
At many companies it seems to boil down to wearing hard hats or “hi-visibility” vests or checking boxes so that the job can get done. Many operational supervisors think of safety as an impediment to getting work done: resources lost, time wasted, an adversary to time and budget constraints. A few think “safety” is a joke. Who has not seen an OSHA inspired cartoon or rolled their eyes at some stupid new requirement?
Uptegrity is founded by an engineer whose experience is operational. On a nuclear powered submarine cruising deep in a cold ocean with an arsenal of hydrogen bombs glued to rocket motors, the mission is simple. Stay hidden. Launch missiles when ordered.
On a submarine, safety is mission critical. If your store of lubricating oil or tanks of jet fuel that powers the Diesel engine catches fire and you have to surface (or never surface): you fail the mission. If the reactor has a significant problem: you fail the mission. If you have a consequential steam leak, or flooding or a high pressure air leak: you fail the mission. If people are injured or sick and unable to accomplish the thousand steps it takes to operate at depth, be situationally aware and conduct a strategic launch: you fail the mission. The mission is existential. The known, hidden presence of a massively destructive payload that would survive a first nuclear strike deters an enemy from attacking our nation and our friends. Failure is not an option.
In every complex industrial setting, safety is not an extra appendage to our work. It is a critical component diffused throughout the operational system. Even though a program may include a series of boxes to check, safety must be understood by management as a variable in an intricate relationship that includes equipment condition, procedures, employee training and experience. The human element is critical in an operational system. If the human is tired, hungry, drunk, sick, angry, irrational, or any other factor that compromises judgment or perception, then the distance between mission success and mission failure is reduced.
Uptegrity has a different view than many industries who analyze an accident and too often attribute it simply to “human error”. People are more complex than the best engineered valve but human failure can be predicted and therefore mitigated or prevented. Systematic engineering and mathematical approaches significantly reduce errors. In 2012 a patron fell 60 feet to his death from an escalator rail at Reliant Stadium in Houston. He was intoxicated from alcohol served at the game or from another source. Sliding on the rail was not accepted practice. Appropriate engineering controls could have prevented this reported fatality.
A company must create and maintain a “culture of safety”. Although this phrase may sound sound tired or overused it must exist beyond a statement of policy. A true “culture of safety” must play a seminal role in an organization and must be embraced from the highest executive to the newest employee turning valves.
The industrial revolution began in the 18th century. Since then, technology has improved and processes refined. Equipment can run faster, longer, hotter and at higher pressure than ever before. Safety processes and methods have improved by magnitudes. Unfortunately, our rules can seem like rules for the sake of rules. An unhealthy practice can develop to bypass them, game them, or ignore them, all while still checking the boxes.
To encapsulate the issues in any work area, I often use as an example the events in Texas City, March 2005, which killed 15 people, injured 180 others, and did millions of dollars of damage. Every employee should see and study the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB)’s incident review and participate in a moderated group discussion with the intent of understanding the root causes of this devastating accident. It was not because someone did not wear a hard hat or gloves. It was because of bad procedures, ignored requirements, failed equipment, tired operators, transition issues, early departures, poor management and poor decisions. No part of the cause was due to bad luck.
Uptegrity is committed to systemic safety. Not merely checking boxes, but understanding why the boxes are there, and evaluating those safety measures in the context of your working area. Only with a larger vision for both the workers and the job requirements can we work to guarantee the safety, sustainability, and effectiveness of your operations.
Douglas Johnson Biography
He enlisted as a machinist mate and engineering lab technician on nuclear submarines and returned to the Navy as a commissioned officer in the Reserve after earning his first college degree. His civilian jobs and Navy Reserve assignments and training gave him broad experience in seagoing vessel safety, industrial operations, industrial and health applications of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, accident investigations and management of the regulatory environment.
Here are the highlights of his qualifications, education, and experience:
Licensed Medical Physicist (Texas), Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer, Licensed Professional Sanitarian, Diplomate of American Board of Magnetic Resonance Safety.
Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University, Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Sciences at University of Florida, Navy Nuclear Power School graduate.
Commander, US Navy, Medical Service Corps. Retired with 30 years service.
- Mechanical nuclear operator and engineering laboratory technician on a ballistic missile submarine and a submarine support ship.
- Qualified as a radiation health officer, industrial hygiene officer and environmental health officer.
- Served as officer-in-charge of several Navy and Marine medical units and as interim commanding officer of a reserve hospital.
- Nuclear auditor for a naval shipyard
- State health radiation safety inspector
- University radiation physicist
- Manager for electron beam accelerator
- Director of health, safety and environment for a research drilling ship program
- Senior industrial hygienist for engineering consultant group
- A licensed medical physicist for a hospital system.
Distinctions & appointments:
- Appointed by the governor to the state medical physics board
- Served on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for laser safety
Five Spheres. One Mission: SAFETY