GEAPS International 2013-2014 President Slav Waplak, Viterra, Inc., Canadian Prairies Chapter, delivered the following speech February 26 at the President’s Banquet at GEAPS Exchange 2013 in Louisville, KY:
The Industry Leader award is given to individuals, members and non-members, who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of operations safety, health, environmental responsibility, efficiency and stored-grain quality preservation excellence in the grain handling and processing industries.
Our recipient’s dedication to advancing the best interests of the grain handling and processing industry spans more than 30 years. Tonight’s honoree has been a GEAPS member since 1980, and has served our industry by developing and launching initiatives for promoting excellence and innovation in grain operations health and safety.
His many years of volunteer leadership service to our industry through GEAPS, included his role as member and first chair of the GEAPS Grain Industry Safety and Health Center Task Force. That group produced training materials that would come to be cited by OSHA as examples of industry-driven initiative to reduce the incidence of grain dust fires and explosions. The result of that work is still used today as an essential reference for employee health and safety orientation.
Our recipient is frequently consulted for his expertise on global safety and environmental compliance. He was extremely influential in representing the grain handling and processing industry through testimonials before federal and state legislators on behalf of many organizations including GEAPS, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, and the North American Millers Association. He shared insights and expertise about effective and operationally practical ways to eliminate or control health and safety hazards without burdensome or misguided governmental intervention. He referred specifically to the hazards of grain dust fires and explosions and the potential health impact of exposure to grain dust and chemicals used in grain handling, storage and processing operations. The result of that testimony was more reasonable, practical and less costly legislation and regulation.
Our recipient is also an advocate for educating our industry on best work practices to eliminate or control health and safety hazards through industry forums including GEAPS Exchange and GEAPS chapters.
The drive behind his leadership service is his professional passion for improving workplace safety and environmental protection. Even in his retirement, after 35 years with General Mills, serving the past 26 years as Director of Safety and Environment, his dedication for promoting occupational health and safety continues in his role as a lecturer at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.
GEAPS is extremely fortunate to have benefited from the tireless efforts and deep commitment of this individual and tonight, I am honored to present our colleague, Gary Olmstead, with the GEAPS Industry Leader Award.