Safety Hero: Jeff Duda of Clifton Sanitation

Our first Safety Hero, Jeff Duda, is a great example of leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork.

Click here to nominate your district’s Safety Hero.

The CSD Pool is pleased to announce that Jeff Duda of Clifton Sanitation District is our first CSD Safety Hero. Going forward we will be announcing a new Safety Hero every quarter. We want to work with members to shine a light on some of the heroes who make their workplaces safer every day.

Clifton Sanitation has been in business for over fifty years, and during that time it has never experienced a single lost time accident or recordable injury. They inspect and maintain 75 miles of wastewater piping, and to them safety is a top priority.

That distinction is profound. As a group, CSD members underperform against the national average in almost every category when it comes to safety incident rates. For any member to have such a record is an enormous win, and Jeff has been a part of cementing that legacy.

Joining Clifton Sanitation in 2012, Jeff Duda serves as the district’s Plant Operator and Safety Coordinator and has taken on the responsibility for the continuation of the district’s perfect record.

Under Jeff’s watch, Clifton Sanitation received the 2017 George W. Burke Jr. Facility Safety Award, was recognized by Colorado Rural Water Association as the 2015 Wastewater System of the Year, and received the 2016 Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association (RMWEA) Plant Performance Award for Outstanding Results in Plant Operations, Maintenance and Public Relations. Additionally, the district was the first to receive the CSD Pool’s Safest District of the Year award at the SDA Annual Conference last year.

Personally, Jeff has recently been nominated for the RMWEA Plant Operations Merit Award and the 2017 Colorado Rural Water Association Wastewater Operator of the Year Award. Given Jeff’s commitment to safety, his success in his position, and dedication to leadership make him the perfect recipient for this award.

Clifton Sanitation is a relatively small district consisting of nine employees, many taking on multiple roles. Prior to his time at Clifton Sanitation, Jeff worked for the City of Sheboygan, Wisconsin at the wastewater treatment facility, owned and operated an electrical business, and, more recently, gained experience in the community as a school board member. Currently, Jeff holds certifications in both Wisconsin and Colorado as a wastewater professional.

Identifying a Leader

Jeff came to be the Safety Coordinator after District Manager, Brian Woods, noticed that Jeff was not the kind of person to sit back and let things pass him by. Understanding Jeff’s background, Woods approached him about the position.

“He was reluctant, but receptive to the role,” Woods said. “He gained a lot of confidence along the way from his role as Operations Manager and grew into a strong Safety Coordinator.”

Jeff primarily wears the hat of Senior Plant Operator, in which he is responsible for process operations at the treatment facility. He also provides support in the collection system. Since starting at the position, Jeff has showcased himself as the dedicated, go-to person that could implement all aspects of the safety program.

“Jeff has taken a program that was strong on paper and taken it to the next level,” Woods says. “He got the program up and running.”

Jeff is credited with implementing and enforcing the safety program. During his tenure, the plant has maintained and exceeded the compliance standards.

He facilitates all of the training, conducts compliance monitoring, laboratory testing, and even plant security. Most importantly, Jeff coordinates safety meetings, and gets his team involved by utilizing a hands-on approach to the job. Clifton Sanitation is unique in the level of participation they see from their employees.

Clifton mandates each employee take one hour of training through TargetSolutions, CSD Pool’s online training system, and another one to two hours of volunteering outside of work.

In addition, the key to their success might rest in their unique policy to dole out an hour of vacation time for each hour of personal time devoted to specific safety training opportunities, assigned by the rotating safety committee, overseen by Jeff.

“Safety is a part of everyday culture,” Woods says. “Jeff follows all procedures and policies and gets the guys involved in it.”

Beyond his commitment to facilities operations and maintenance, Jeff also represents Clifton outside of the facility. Jeff is the only representative within Colorado’s Western Slope to join the Innovative Wastewater Committee.

Technology and Innovation

Ultimately, Jeff’s goal is to bring new technology and ideas back to the district that will enhance operations as well as safety. In addition, as senior operator, he has integrated a well-rounded public education program that includes tours available for the public as well as participation in Western Colorado’s Children’s Water Festival with what the plant calls its “Water Days” program.

During this event, over 2,500 fifth grade students assemble in Grand Junction on Colorado Mesa University’s campus to learn about the many different roles water plays in the community. With Jeff’s help, Clifton is a main participant in this

“[Jeff] believes he needs to be educating the younger operators in the area and does a lot of it on his own time,” Woods says.

Teamwork and Problem Solving

Above all, Jeff remains a very well regarded, highly respected member of Clifton Sanitation’s team. He is described as considerate and meticulous as well as honest and ethical. He is somebody who does not jump to conclusions, and instead, opts to think a decision through before reacting. In light of this, Jeff is often sought out for advice, and receives feedback in stride. Jeff is a textbook team player.

“[Jeff] brings a certain maturity and confidence to the younger group, and they look up to him considerably,” Woods says. “He is the right person for this particular job.”

While Jeff’s commitment to safety and the progression of education is his strongest attribute, he does not seek out the recognition for it. The nomination and award came as a surprise to Jeff, according to Woods.

“He was taken aback,” Woods says. “He is humbled and very appreciative of the award.”

Up Next?

If you know of or have any employees that go beyond their role in your district, let us know! Each quarter, the CSD Pool will be selecting a brand-new Safety Hero.

We want to know who takes your commitment to safety to the next level and makes your district a shining example of safety. Each recipient receives an award, a prize such as a tablet computer, and a spot in our newsletter.

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