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Read more about current Certified Mine Safety Professionals and how receiving this credential took their mine safety career to the next step.

Michael J. Wegleitner

Corporate Director, Health and Safety, Hecla Mining Company

What is your role in mine safety and health, and how long have you been involved in this arena?

I am the Corporate Director of Health & Safety with the Hecla Mining Company, with U.S. and international responsibility for Hecla’s health and safety management systems. I have 38 years of mining, construction and energy industry experience, which includes health, safety, environment, security, operations, procurement and inventory control experience.

The Interview

What excites you about mine safety and health? What personal achievements in mine safety and health have made you proud?

I enjoy helping others succeed. I enjoy having opportunities each day to make a difference regarding the health and safety of individuals, and to ensure they return home safely each day. I am most proud of drastically reducing risk and lowering the number of employee injuries for every company that I have worked for, on a consistent basis. This has allowed employees to return home each day without injury. I am also proud that I obtained my CMSP certification.

What made you decide to pursue the CMSP credential?

I decided to pursue the CMSP certification because it gave credibility to me as a health and safety professional, and the certification ensures I am knowledgeable in all aspects of health and safety within the mining industry.

How do you think the CMSP credential is important for: The industry? Employers? Certificants? Communities around mining sites and/or communities in general?

The CMSP credential is important to industry, employers, certificants and communities because each of them benefit from an individual who is very knowledgeable in all aspects of health and safety practices and systems.

Many studies show that certified individuals tend to outperform non-certified individuals – do you agree with this in terms of mine safety and health?

Yes, I agree with this statement. An individual who holds the CMSP certification has taken an oath to serve and protect others from harm and to abide by good ethics at all times. Given the abovementioned, they are apt to be high performers and are driven to be successful.

Certifications are tied to objective demonstrations of competence. Does your company actively promote a culture of competence?

Yes, my company expects individuals to seek and obtain certifications in their discipline that ensures they are competent. Within our company safety and health management system, there is a module for competence.

What does it say about a mining operation when “CMSP preferred” is included in job listings? Does the CMSP credential assist with job security and mobility? What opportunities exist for CMSPs that aren’t so easily open to non-credential holders?

It shows the company understands and is knowledgeable regarding health and safety and places a high priority on safety. The company knows the value a CMSP certified employee will bring to the company. Having the credential of a CMSP leads to a more secure position within a company, yet also makes the individual more mobile as it will give the individual more opportunities within the health and safety position compared to an individual who does not have the certification. The certification of the CMSP opens the door for selective assignments, promotions, pay advancements and more job opportunities.

What do you hope the future holds for yourself and for mine safety and health?

I hope the future of health and safety continues to grow with new advancements in technology, and injury rates continue to lower. For me, I hope I continue to gain health and safety knowledge that I can transfer to my company and all employees to ensure their health and safety.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this field?

To be patient and listen, and observe everyone for their health and safety practices. To follow your gut instinct when it comes to health and safety. Begin molding your health and safety morals and ethics by attaching yourself to those who hold health and safety in high regard. Plan out your health and safety career path with the intent of obtaining the CMSP certification. If you do this, you have the opportunity to become the best health and safety professional you could be.

What is the best way to prepare for the CMSP exam?

Years before taking the CMSP examination, begin preparing yourself by gaining all the knowledge you can regarding safety in general, not just mining. Review the CMSP certification body of knowledge material and attend one of the CMSP prep courses. Surround yourself and network with others who have CMSP certifications and tap into their health and safety knowledge and experience.

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The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) brings together the mining and mineral industry’s brightest and most dedicated professionals. Over 14,000 global members advance their careers with world-class technical resources, educational programs, networking opportunities, and professional development tools from SME. Our members are focused on sharing best practices on safety, environmental stewardship, and moving mining forward. SME. Inspiring mining professionals worldwide.

SME acquired the CMSP certification as a part of our ongoing commitment to supporting mine safety and health professionals around the world. SME's Health and Safety Division provides global resources for mine safety and health information, professional development, networking and advocacy.

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