All About My Safety Internship
By Nathan P.
My internship is at a company called CertainTeed Gypsum, which is a drywall manufacturing facility on the Duwamish River in Georgetown, Seattle. I work with the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) section. My supervisor has many safety projects to manage, and he gave me one of them to complete. The project I am in charge of is to identify the hazardous chemicals used around the facility, update their safety data sheet (SDS) database, and create simplified visuals to inform the employees of the health risks of using these chemicals as well as the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear when handling them. In addition, my goal is to search for appropriate alternative chemicals to replace the ones that are known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reprotoxic, or CMR for short. Besides my own project, I also assist other branches of the facility for tasks such as data entry or constructing a presentation board. In addition, I created a presentation board to demonstrate my project and its findings to the vice president of the North American branch of CertainTeed Gypsum.
For the most part I work independently on my project. On the one hand, working alone gives me free reign as to how I want to approach this project and how I want everything to look. On the other hand, I need a certain level of creativity since I am starting this project from scratch with essentially no template or guideline to work from. I also need to have enough self-discipline to keep me focused on my project and complete it on time, a skill that I have struggled to hone for my whole life. Of course, it is never too late to learn, and I think that I am improving compared to when I first started.
Even though I work by myself, I’m never afraid to ask questions when they arise. This is my first time working at a manufacturing facility, so on top of understanding all the safety precautions that are implemented here, I need to learn what kind of work an EHS manager does. Fortunately, my supervisor is very generous and never hesitates to answer all my questions to the best of his ability, from how drywall is made to how he entered the field. He is also very supportive of the decisions I make for this project and offers helpful advice when I am lost. Since this is my first time working full-time, I have learned to adapt to this new schedule, but both my supervisor and my friends have been very supportive as I’ve joined the working world. If I am to be completely honest, I would not have made it this far without them.