It’s no accident: BWC safety staffer earns industry award

By Tony Gottschlich, Public Information Officer

When industrial hygienist Phillip Rauscher talks about his job with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), he sounds like a third-grader on the morning of a school field trip to the zoo.

“Every day is a field trip for me,” said the smiling five-year veteran of BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene. “I visit employers all over northwest Ohio to identify and remediate safety hazards so no one gets sick or injured on the job. It’s extremely satisfying work, and I never get tired of it.”

He’s apparently good at it, too. That’s why Rauscher earned this year’s John J. Bloomfield Award from the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). The award recognizes a young industrial hygienist who pursues the problem of occupational health hazards primarily by doing fieldwork.

In a news release, the ACGIH noted Rauscher’s “outstanding contributions to the industrial hygiene profession” and “exemplary” impact as a practitioner and a leader.

“I was grinning ear to ear when I was notified about the award,” said Rauscher, 31, the fourth BWC employee to capture the award in its 40-year history and the first in 21 years. “On top of that, it was my birthday, so it was a pretty good day.”

Rauscher, who is based in BWC’s Toledo service office, was honored May 22 at the ACGIH’s conference in Minneapolis. He was nominated by BWC colleague Jeff Hutchins, a 1993 Bloomfield award winner.

“It is obvious that this is more than just a job to him — he has a real passion for occupational safety and health that comes through in his interaction with peers and customers alike,” said Hutchins, who manages the Safety and Hygiene division’s technical advisors. “He has that rare combination of extremely high-level technical skills and great interpersonal skills that allow him to effectively communicate complex concepts to a wide variety of audiences.”

Making a difference

Rauscher said he knew early in his BWC career that he could make a positive difference in the lives of working Ohioans.

In his first weeks on the job, for instance, he visited a metal grinding business cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for producing excessive metal dust without proper ventilation.

“It was so bad the employees were wearing respirators all the time while they were working,” he said. “But respirators aren’t a perfect system. You think you’re protected but it’s not 100 percent protection.”

Rauscher provided guidance on a ventilation system that improved the workplace air quality, met OSHA standards and allowed workers to remove their respirators — all at no extra charge to the employer. BWC’s safety services are covered by employer premiums.

BWC Industrial Hygienist Phil Rauscher measures noise levels in a Toledo factory earlier this month.

“A private consultant would charge up to $300 an hour and cost thousands by the day,” Rauscher noted.

Among several academic and industry credentials, Rauscher earned his bachelor’s degree in public health with a minor in chemistry from Youngstown State University. He earned a master’s in environmental/ occupational health from the University of Toledo. He’s currently working online for a master’s degree in advanced safety engineering management from The University of Arkansas, Birmingham.

Born in Cleveland and raised in Mansfield, Rauscher lives in Bowling Green today on an 11-acre farm with his wife Mollie and two children.

Other Bloomfield winners from BWC include Scott Hayes (1998) and Mark Ashworth (1990).

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