Danielle WaxterFor tech and safety professionals working in the equipment manufacturing industry today, the objective is simple: Ensure the end users of ag and construction equipment remain safe, sound, and on the job.

It’s a goal that drives just about every task American Augers’ Danielle Waxter undertakes in her role as her company’s product safety and compliance engineer, her efforts as Vice Chair of Product Safety & Compliance Seminar Planning Committee and her involvement as part of the association’s AEM’s Technical Publications Committee.

“For me, at a fundamental level, I absolutely believe in safety and people coming home from work in the same condition they went to work,” said Waxter. “It’s incredibly tragic to me if anybody is trying to support his or her family, goes to work, and something happens. At a core level, I want people to be safe.”

A Passion for Safety

Throughout her professional career, Waxter has continually sought out and embraced opportunities to advance the cause of safety. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University and earning a master’s degree from the University of Washington – both in chemical engineering – Waxter worked for Intel Corp. for nearly a decade in a number of different capacities associated with training engineers. Her duties included assisting research and development engineers with documenting manufacturing process flows, in addition to playing a critical role in her company’s safety training efforts.

Upon joining American Augers more than three years ago, Waxter took a position with a focus on product safety and technical publications. The job afforded her the opportunity to attend her first AEM Product Safety & Compliance Seminar in 2016, where she found herself energized by the opportunities that allowed her to tap into her passion for safety and make a difference.

“At American Augers we make some gigantic, huge, impressive equipment – and there’s inherent dangers that go along with the kind of work where that equipment is used ,” said Waxter. “To be involved and impact the safety of our products, to me that’s just something I’m passionate about.”

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Waxter’s role at American Augers involves assisting in the development of operator manuals and parts manuals. In addition, she serves as the company’s project manager for the implementation of an online system allowing for customers and dealers to gain access to digital versions of technical publications via mobile devices.

“We’re trying to really grow that tool as a resource for dealers, technicians and customers so they can access technical publications and order parts online,” she explained.

Advancing product safety is another other key aspect of Waxter’s job, and a recent focus has involved the consistency of safety messages. For example, when her company is in the process of developing new product designs, it conducts safety reviews and risk assessments.

“I’ve been participating in those and trying to make sure every action item that comes up in a safety review or a risk assessment is closed out and we have the proper documentation of the design, guarding or information mitigation,” she said.

AEM’s Product Safety & Compliance Seminar

Not long after she started at American Augers, Waxter was approached to join the AEM Product Safety and Compliance Seminar Planning Committee. Upon receiving the invite, Waxter was thrilled to receive an opportunity to serve the industry and advance her knowledge of key issues related to safety and compliance.

“I just dove in,” she said. “Every single planning committee meeting I went to, I was able to come away with things I learned that I could apply back to my job. And I truly appreciate all of the mentorship I’ve received from other people on the committee. I’ve learned so much from them.”

According to Waxter, AEM’s Technical Publications Committee has been a tremendous resource for her as she gains more and more knowledge of the industry, in addition to providing her with ample opportunities to network with her industry peers. The group developed several subcommittees comprised of volunteers to focus on four key “deep-dive” topics and report on them to the rest of the group: best practices, standards and regulations, translations and writer training. One recent presentation Waxter was involved with focused on the consistency of safety messages.

“We used the work we did at my family of companies, and we tried to create templates for others,” she said. “We took all of our spreadsheets, our databases and design guidelines, and we stripped out the content and built a process flow for someone to go from ‘I don’t know where to start’ to having a controlled database showing safety signs and safety messages.”

What Lies Ahead

Though Waxter has learned quite a bit in a short time working in the equipment industry, she is excited to consider what’s on the horizon for her career and her work with AEM. And, according to the American Augers’ product safety and compliance engineer, certain industry issues are poised to present challenges for equipment manufacturers both now and in the future.

“Chemical regulations, Prop 65, Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)… these are huge, new challenges,” she said. “Regulations are changing all of the time, and the amount of data gathering is immense. We’ve had to do that within our own company, and I just see that growing and becoming a bigger part of our job.”

Other issues of importance, she said, include functional safety of controlled systems and organizations’ ability to stay active in the global market.

“There are a lot of regional compliance things that have come up that are new,” added Waxter. “And to stay competitive in the global market, we have to meet all of those compliance regulations.”

Women in Product Safety

Early in her career, Waxter spent a significant amount of time advocating for young women and minorities to go into technical work. So when AEM held a Women in Product Safety networking event at the 2019 Product Safety & Compliance Seminar, she was thrilled to see steps taken by others within the equipment manufacturing industry to advance such an important cause.

“I have so many great role models – Jill Wiggins, Susan Harmon, Valerie Lynch, to name a few – and such great resources through people I’ve met through the seminar, and it’s really set me up for success professionally,” said Waxter. “And now, through this networking event, I can not only interact with my mentors, but also try to be a role model for someone who is new.”

Ensuring the safety of end users will always be a top priority for AEM, members like American Augers, and industry leaders like Waxter. And, according to her, it’s incredibly important for there to be opportunities for individuals from different backgrounds and walks of life to learn how to impact safety in the equipment manufacturing industry and the markets they serve.

“It can really help if someone sees someone that looks like them involved,” said Waxter. “They can talk about some of the challenges and unique experiences they might have had. For me to be able to start giving back in that way – kind of how I used to back in the day – has been really energizing for me.”

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