Columbia Southern University Awards Eric Simmons Outstanding Safety Professional


Columbia Southern University (CSU), a leading safety educator, recently awarded its annual Outstanding Safety Professional of the Year Award to Eric Simmons of Temecula, California.

CSU’s occupational safety and health faculty members selected Simmons from more than 250 nominations. Simmons, who holds master’s degree in occupational safety and health from the university, is the corporate safety director for Helix Electric in San Diego.

“I have always had a passion for learning and teaching others. The safety profession provides an excellent opportunity to do both of those things,” said Simmons. “I enjoy the variety within the safety profession, both in terms of the things we do and the people we meet and interact with on a daily basis.”

His enjoyment is reflected in the numerous construction safety awards he has earned including the Board of Certified Safety Professionals’ 2019 Construction Health and Safety Technician Award of Excellence. Simmons has licenses in 17 states and serves on national safety committees including the American Society of Safety Professionals, the National Safety Council and the National Fire Protection Association.

CSU’s occupational safety and health faculty members chose two student runners-up this year for the award: Bill Toms of Asheville, North Carolina, and Scott Gable of Cecil County, Maryland.

Toms, a safety director with MB Haynes Corp., began working in occupational safety and health after suffering a traumatic injury in 1997 as a lineman. He earned his associate in occupational safety and health from CSU in 2015. He is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree with CSU as well.

“The incident resulted in the amputation of my right hand and right foot. Since I would no longer be able to do line work, I was excited when my company asked if I would like to come back to work in safety. It was then that I realized that I could make a difference in the lives of others by encouraging them to work safely and avoid making a serious mistake as I did,” explained Toms.

Since 2011, Gable has risen in ranks of the safety world and now works as an occupational safety and health specialist with the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights in Washington D.C. Gable earned his bachelor’s in occupational safety and health from CSU this year.

“My favorite thing about what I do is the abundance of opportunity to serve others in various capacities,” said Gable. “Between the people whom I have been able to save from unsafe acts and taught along the way, to the families that I have comforted and provided closure to during times of hardship, nothing will ever compare.”

The Outstanding Safety Professional Award was established by the university to recognize National Safety Month, observed annually in June, and to celebrate its occupational safety and health students and graduates for their commitments to safety, professionalism and their accomplishments.

CSU salutes Simmons, Toms, Gable and others who participated in this effort to honor all those who are committed to protecting the lives of workers. This is especially of note as the world deals with a global pandemic and the good health of workers is paramount.