If there were ever an example of someone living fully in the present while keeping a trained eye on the future, that person would be Ty Hatcherson. As he nears completion of the Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) Process Safety Management Program, Hatcherson is excited to bring new knowledge to a brand new job — and already thinking about where it will lead.
The Texas-based process operator knew from an early age that industry operations were his calling. “My father and grandfather were industrial engineers,” he says, and, as a boy, he was intrigued by the blueprints he saw them using. The future was calling.
Hatcherson went on to earn a B.S. in Industrial Technology from Texas Southern University. He launched his career as a hands-on production lead at Halliburton, a broad-ranging role that included equipment operation, team management, safety issues — and blueprint review. From there, he moved on to The Dow Chemical Company and then to Kimberly-Clark where he was a member of the team to receive the company’s 2020 Impact Award for winning innovation in a pilot project exploring the use of polymers in Kimberly-Clark’s traditionally paper products.
When you ask Hatcherson about any of his positions, his enthusiasm is evident. This is a person who clearly enjoys his work and brings his all to each role. What drives him is the same inquiry, in whatever setting he finds himself in: “How can I help make that better? What aren’t we doing, and what do we need to be doing?”
For Hatcherson, those questions seemed to repeatedly arise in safety-related scenarios, and indeed, workplace safety has factored into each position he’s held. After a while, he realized it was something he wanted to pursue further.
“When you get out of college, you start work, and then you start to see,” he explains. “You think, “This is what I’m doing, but I want to do that.’” In this case, the “that” was environmental health and safety. To make the transition, Hatcherson knew adding further expertise through education was the way to go. “Education can really get that going and accelerate it.”
He decided to focus on process safety management, a regulation established by OSHA that looks at all processes that involve handling, using, storing, moving, or manufacturing highly hazardous chemicals. It not only coincided with his interests but, in addition, “seemed like a hot career path.” The present and the future combined.
He enrolled in GTPE’s Process Safety Management Certificate Program, which is designed to increase understanding of OSHA principles and how to apply them, including hazard and protection analyses and documentation of process safety management compliance audits.
From Day One, Hatcherson was all in, frequently sharing online what he learned in class. “I am definitely excited to have completed this OSHA 511 course,” he wrote. “It informed me of how much information is missing from the day-to-day work environment.” Upon completing a Process Hazard Analysis course, he posted, “What I Learned in Class: the critical requirement for an effective PHA, the consequences of inaccurate or incomplete PHAs, how to evaluate consequences and the magnitude of harm, failure modes, human factors, and facility siting…”
His top takeaway: “Documentation!” It’s something, he says, that he’s frequently seen lacking. Working on a project, “we’d know we’d done something before. We’d done it many times. But it was never written down anywhere."
"It's definitely important to me to continue my education,” he says, “because in the field of operations, the process is always changing. By the process changing so much, there are equipment changes that have to be met. This certificate will help me with helping make those changes take effect.”
Although working full-time, he fit in classes by using saved-up vacation time. The pandemic had moved classes online, and the father of two found himself in school alongside his then 11-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. “They really liked that,” he recalls. “My daughter would say, ‘Let’s do homework together!’”
That experience was life-altering. Between commuting and working long hours on-site, “I didn’t realize how much I wasn’t there,” he reflects. It was an unexpected benefit to his decision to move into safety. “I don’t have to be present at all times,” he explains, as some work can be done from home. “It’s a better work-life balance.”
His next step is a new Process Operator job with LyondellBasell in Houston. The role includes more safety responsibilities, and Hatcherson hopes to move into a Process Safety Management position when one becomes available.
Will he pursue other professional certificates? “Oh, yes,” he says, without hesitation. “Maybe in IT, or supply chain, or HR….” As always, Hatcherson has his eye on the future, which he sees as full of possibility.
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