A Few Minutes With … Dawn Barth

Photo of Dawn Barth

Dawn Barth

Spend a few minutes this week learning more about Dawn Barth and the work she does to keep our campus and greater community safe. 

Current position: Interim Manager of Risk and Environmental Health and Safety Programs and COVID-19 Compliance Officer 

Work life before Lane: Holds a master’s degree in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation and worked as a rehabilitation specialist. 

Prior work at Lane: Began as an hourly employee in November 2007 as a data entry clerk assisting with conversion of credit lines to electronic recordkeeping and eventually, landed in a health and safety specialist position in 2004-05. That position evolved over the years and now includes her current position. 

Personal look: Dawn’s husband works at OSU and they have four children: a daughter, who is an LCC grad; a son, who is a current LCC student; a son who lives in Salem: and a son who is a first grader. She also has her own photography business and enjoys portrait and sports photography.

Q: What interested you in your current position?

A: The position has evolved a lot. I think that’s what’s most interesting. It’s always changing because what I work with in risk management is never the same thing. You’re planning and then something different comes up, like a pandemic or wildfires. One of the most interesting workshops I’ve attended was in Florida about hurricane response and preparedness and what they’ve learned. They have to be prepared every year. Even though we don’t have hurricanes here, there’s so much we can learn and apply from people who are preparing for similar responses to a disaster.

Q: What does a risk manager do when there’s not a pandemic?

A: The risk manager’s job is to evaluate programs and processes on campus to make sure we’re doing the best we can to work and learn safely. My goal is to be proactive rather than reactive. I want to try to identify potential problems and fix them before we have an accident or an injury. I work with the safety committee and emergency planning team to identify those items. Sometimes I do have to react. If we have property damage or if someone wrecks a (college-owned) car, I am the liaison with the insurance company to get claims processed and investigated. Since December, that has included workers’ compensation, as well as property and students.

Q: How have you had to alter how you approach and do your job in the remote work environment?

A: It’s a little bit different and it’s looking at things differently. When you’re in this little bubble of our campus, you look at how to keep this safe but now, I’m looking at how we keep safe at a bigger level. With the pandemic we can’t just look at our campus. We have to look at what we are doing to contribute to the overall health and wellness of Lane County. Also, in addition to risk manager, I’ve been appointed by President Hamilton as the COVID Compliance Officer. There’s where a lot of my time is going. In that role, my job is to ensure compliance with what the reopening committee puts in place. Any department that has submitted a reopening plan, I’ve had to go in and inspect those plans and make sure plans are safe for employees and students. I’m also LCC’s liaison for Lane County Public Health anytime there is an exposure with one of our students or employees. I also work with other agencies including officials from Eugene City, UO, the hospitals and Public Health to determine the threat level. Right now, COVID Compliance is at least 95 percent of what I do day to day.

Q: What are some ways that risk management and planning directly impact our campus(employees/students/community)?

A: It’s important that we are proactive in what we’re doing. I like to know about things before they become a problem because I can’t be everywhere all the time. If someone sees something: stairs crumbling for instance, I need to follow up on that and get that repaired. We do have routine building inspections, but something could happen after an inspection that we need to know about. Risk management takes all of us because anybody could see something is a concern and bring it to my attention. That is how we work together to be part of a solution.

Q: What do you think people may not realize about your role/risk management on campus?

A: Not everyone realizes the resources they have available to them about educating themselves on safety. People are surprised when they find out about the Safe Colleges online software. You have access to that full library of training all the time. It doesn’t have to be assigned to you. It doesn’t cost us anything extra. There are some great topics on there: first aid, CPR, AED use. When we’re all at home more, wouldn’t it be great to know or refresh your CPR and first aid skills or learn how to use a fire extinguisher. Some of these are less than 10-minute videos and that training is at your fingertips. It’s helpful for you not just at work. We want you to feel safer at home because that affects your work life now more than ever. To find the Safe Colleges, type in the Lane website: lanecc.edu/SafeLane. You’ll find a whole list of resources.

Q: As you talk about the work you do, there’s passion in your voice. Where does that passion come from?

A: I’ve always been one to want to know more. I will say the world looks a lot different to me since I started doing risk management. I notice people on roofs without safety equipment and notice a lot of other things I don’t think I’d notice before. For instance, I was out at the coast at a glass blowing place and they made people wear safety glasses, but they let people wear flip flops. It was unreal that they didn’t make people wear actual shoes. When you’re in it day to day, that’s the stuff that jumps out at you and it drives my family crazy. They say: ‘Mom, only you!’ But, I see what happens when you don’t take precautions and I see the value when you do.

Q: Have you started any new work practices to help you better adapt to our remote work environment?

A: Other than becoming a zoom expert and finding better angles and appropriate backgrounds, not really. (Laughs)

Q: What are you most looking forward to when we can use the term: post-pandemic?

A: It’s going to be nice to be with people again. For a lot of years in my position, I was a department of one. It was just me. I had a boss, but there was really no one else that did anything else that had to do with what I did. When good things happened, I didn’t have anybody I could celebrate with. When they added workers’ comp to my position late last year, I moved to HR, so I’m now part of a work team, and it’s been nice to have that camaraderie. In this remote world, we’re missing out on that camaraderie or that feeling of accomplishment and being able to do things together. I was just feeling that and then, we went remote. I will enjoy being able to walk down the hall and say something funny or have watercooler talk and just to be able to share with people and get to know people outside of work.

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