Health and safety manager receives NSC Diversity in Safety Scholarship

Published: Oct 12, 2022 8:00 AM

By Joe McAdory

“Safety should be a mindset.”

Emmanuel Winful has carried this belief since growing up in a Ghana gold mining town and it has shaped the way he practices safety.

“Within the U.S., there are standards in place to promote and enforce mining safety, but even so mining in the U.S. is among one of the high-risk environments to work, so just imagine how dangerous underground mines can be in developing countries like Ghana where there are not established standards,” said Winful, whose family worked in the industry. “I grew up wanting to become a doctor so I could treat people when they were injured in mining accidents.”

Instead, Winful took a pro-active approach and that was prevention of injury and harm. “Rather than waiting for a person to get injured, it was important for me to educate others and find means to keep them safe,” he said.

As a health and safety manager in Auburn Engineering’s Office of Safety, Winful is dedicated to developing, organizing and implementing safety management system initiatives that foster a safer work and research environment for the college’s faculty and students.

For his efforts, Winful was recently among the first recipients of the National Safety Council’s Diversity in Safety Scholarship. How can Winful enhance diversity in safety?

“I have once been an international student, so I understand how sometimes language, training content and how the lack of understanding of cultures can become both a mental and physical barrier to grasping some of the safety requirements in place in the U.S.,” said Winful, who earned his second master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Auburn earlier this year and is parlaying his education into a newly started doctoral program.

“I’m able to recognize the varying background and cultures of people, work with them and help them gain an appreciation for how this can improve their safety practices in the laboratories. I also look for ways to empower them – make them leaders in safety practices – in various spaces. I believe that by allowing students to be themselves and feel secure about discussing their work or projects with me, the more the students become more involved and be the ones leading safety among their peers in workplaces.”

Common safety hazards within an engineering college often stem from laboratory research, including chemicals, lasers, electrical devices and mechanical tools. “Engineering pretty much has all of the hazards,” Winful said.

That’s why great consideration needs to be given to each experimental activity and the hazards involved. But finding that balance of developing trust from student and faculty researchers, and implementing safety guidelines without slowing research is delicate, Winful said.

“It’s important to build relationships with colleagues and let them know that there might be certain hazards, or within the processes that they perform, that might not be safe,” Winful said. “It’s important to have the ability to connect with those individuals and to better understand what they are doing and familiarize myself with the activities in that space.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility and we should all be watching out for one another. Some people have this perception that safety inhibits progress, but that is wrong. I think this antagonistic view of safety to productivity needs to change. Unless individuals with supervisory responsibilities signal to their direct reports that safety should be the foundation of what they do, employees (faculty, staff, and students) may conclude that it is acceptable to focus on results at the expense of safety and that is where the risk for an accident may arise. Research has shown that companies, or institutions, that embrace safety are always the ones that are successful and their employees are able to contribute significantly to that success. We all want the college and university to be successful. It helps for people to know that I am here to help them. That’s my approach … letting them see that I am here to help and not restrict them.”

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447
Emmanuel Winful has been an Auburn Engineering health and safety manager since 2019.

Emmanuel Winful has been an Auburn Engineering health and safety manager since 2019.

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