SAN DIEGO, CA --
Three Air Force safety professionals were recognized for outstanding achievements in the safety profession at the National Safety Council’s 2019 NSC Congress & Expo held Sept. 6-11 in San Diego, California.
Troy Armstead, a 9/11 survivor and a retired safety professional, was recognized during the Congress’ opening ceremony, which paid tribute to military members and first responders impacted by the Sept. 11, 2001 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. In that time, Armstead was awarded the safety professional of the year in four separate major commands.
“When I received those awards, it let the world know that I was the best safety person in that command,” said Armstead. “Air Force Safety is important to me because as a young airman, when I enlisted, my first job was a nuclear weapon short range attack missies and air launched cruise missile specialist. We did nothing without safety first.”
Armstead additional 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 over 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, decrease days away from work, promoted a culture of safety and sent people home the same way they came to work – whole,” said Armstead.
During the opening session, the NSC presented its top safety award to Michael Ballard, Air Force Safety Center’s acting chief of occupational safety. The NSC awards the Distinguished Service to Safety Award 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 organizations’ culture around safety,” said Sarah Van Huis, NSC Awards & 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 over four decades. His accomplishments include being the driving force behind saving over 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,” said Ballard. “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 their 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 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,” said Nixon. “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 professional. 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 CEO 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.