All-In on Health, Safety and Wellness

Jason Bordner’s dual roles make him Southgate’s ace-in-the-hole.

With a staff of only 14 people, Southgate Water and Sanitation District provides water and sewer service to two unincorporated county areas and parts of four cities, including the south metro area and south suburbs of Denver. This amounts to a daytime population of over a quarter of a million constituents receiving service. To keep up with the technical support and the health and safety of staff, Jason Bordner, the CSD Pool’s latest Safety Hero, rises to the challenge.

Jason Bordner is Southgate Water and Sanitation’s Technical Support Specialist and Health and Safety Officer, a role he has held for about half of the over eight years during which he’s worked at the district. His dual roles have him focused on customer and operational support while also engaging with staff on all aspects of safety, health, and wellness. Jason is also a certified level 4 water district operator and sanitary system operator. He’s certified at the highest level as an operator and worked in the field for about five years before transitioning to his new roles, where he now excels.

Southgate Water and Sanitation’s District Manager and Jason’s nominator, David Irish, explains what makes Jason a perfect fit for the recognition.

“I saw the request for nomination and it just fit perfectly with how we’ve created that positon and how he’s taken hold of that over the last few years,” Irish says.

Jason’s responsibilities as Health and Safety Officer are numerous. He oversees the wellness program where the district allocates funds directly to employees for use on personal health; he compiles and releases a monthly health and wellness newsletter via email; he also uses his experience as a trainer for the American Heart Association to make sure staff is prepared and certified in various trainings such as CPR and AED use.

“We have him do that for us, for all of our staff. And we get staff to train every two years,” Irish says. “We even have AEDs at all our facilities now, even tiny little pump stations.”

One of Jason’s primary focuses is on the safety culture of the district. He holds monthly safety meetings with field staff, and then he follows up with quarterly all-staff safety meetings. Jason curates the content, creates quizzes, takes minutes, and shows short movies and news clips to underscore his messaging.

“By bringing in video and real life experiences, everyone gets engaged pretty quickly,” Irish says of the meetings’ effectiveness.

Jason has never hesitated to move beyond the meetings to ensure that the employees have the tools and resources they need. He is in charge of acquiring and maintaining the correct PPE and making sure his team has the proper training to use it. He coordinates various trainings frequently, such as chemical training, defensive driving, and slip and fall. Once a year the staff receives fire extinguisher training, which Jason coordinates with the local fire department, and in the past he has also coordinated an active shooter training with the Greenwood Village SWAT team.

“It’s one thing to talk about it, but to really have results you need to have the resources to stay safe,” Irish says.  “His main focus is on awareness everywhere. In the office and on the street.”

Jason’s tenure at Southgate Water and Sanitation has seen nothing but positive results and improvements to the district’s culture, safety program, and even insurance premiums. Over the past four years since taking on his new role, Jason has really developed as a leader at the district.

“Before he was one of the guys, and now with his ability to lead the safety meetings and create the curriculum—he’s been a great asset for myself and the operations manager,” Irish says.

When Jason first started, before he held the dual roles he operates within today, Southgate Water and Sanitation was struggling with accountability. The problem was coupled with the fact that no one was stepping up and taking the lead for the rest of staff.

“They didn’t have safety meetings, they had a poor record, and it was costing them in productivity and also costing them in money,” Irish says. “It was not until I shifted Jason into the office and made the safety, health and wellness part of his tasks that it really took off.”

For anyone with the title of health and wellness officer, the real test came in the form of COVID-19. However, Jason rose to the challenge in true form, taking charge of and implementing all COVID-related protocols. With Jason’s guidance, the district created staggered shifts for all field employees, implemented work-from-home schedules for office staff, and made sure PPE was on-hand.

“He was able to find sources and make sure we were fully stocked,” Irish says. “We do sewer cleaning and service calls at people’s homes, so we have to make sure we’re geared up.”

Jason also developed protocols, posted COVID-19 regulations inside the office and outside for the public, changed safety meetings to a virtual format, and even assigned individual trucks to field people to make sure they were not piling into trucks others have been in.

“He’s really stepped up and become a leader with all COVID protocol,” Irish says.

Above all, Jason really cares about keeping people safe, making sure safety, health, and wellness stay at the forefront of his district’s awareness. At such a small organization, Jason makes sure staff get the information they need, ranging from nutrition, to physical fitness, to mental health, and vaccine effectiveness.

“At the end of the day, what he wants is for everyone to be healthy enough to go do those things that we work to go do,” Irish says. “That’s really the basis for everything for Jason. He’s driven to keep everyone safe.”