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Sweet Home alum named to professional honor in field of safety


February 21, 2017

Photo courtesy of Luke Betts: LUKE BETTS, with his wife Lynn, holds his award after being named named Safety Professional of the Year by the Columbia-Willamette chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers for 2016.

Sweet Home alumnus Luke Betts has been named Safety Professional of the Year by the Columbia-Willamette chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers for 2016.

Betts is a senior safety management consultant for SAIF in eastern Oregon.

The award is presented annually for outstanding leadership and service in safety.

At SAIF, Betts serves a variety of policyholders along the Interstate 84 corridor, from Cascade Locks to Hermiston.

“Luke has given tirelessly and selflessly to our ASSE Columbia-Willamette chapter and the communities in which he has worked and lived,” said Paula Jones, a SAIF senior safety management consultant and president of the Columbia-Willamette chapter.

Betts has previously served as president of the chapter, in 2012-13. In that role he was chairman and host for the 2013 Governor’s Occupational Safety and Health Conference in Portland, and he helped earn a national award as the Large Chapter of the year. He has served in a number of other ASSE roles and has been teaching OSHA-10 classes to high school students for six years.

“Luke is a dedicated and faithful safety professional with a heart that’s fully committed to serving others and doing so with a high level of integrity,” said Chuck Easterly, SAIF loss control manager.

Betts grew up in Sweet Home, graduating from Sweet Home High School in 1996. He attended Ore-gon State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree.

His parents, Gary and Mary Betts, still live in Sweet Home. Betts and his family reside in The Dalles.

“It was neat,” Betts said of the award. “It was flattering, very humbling.”

It reminded him of seeing his father recognized by his peers a couple of times as Logger of the Year.

Betts began a career in safety unexpectedly. He had been a production supervisor for Cintas, which supplies corporate uniform programs, supplies, promotional products, first aid, safety, fire protection products and services, industrial carpet and tile cleaning, operating more than 400 facilities, including six manufacturing plants and eight distribution centers.

His boss told him he needed to take the 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration class, Betts said.

“I did anything I could to get out of it.”

But he had to attend, he said. It turned out to be a phenomenal class, and he enjoyed a conversation with the teacher following the class. A market coordinator position opened up afterward.

Betts thought it would look good on his resume while pursuing a position as a plant manager, so he applied for it – and was selected. In that position, he conducted internal safety audits from California to Calgary in Canada.

When a man was killed in an industrial drier accident in Oklahoma, “it shook everybody up pretty good,” Betts said, and it catalyzed his interest in workplace safety.

Later, Betts and his wife, Lynn, started talking about children. Because he traveled so much for work, it meant he would need to settle down as a plant manager or find another company if he wanted to stay in safety. He went to work for SAIF in 2011, and now he’s teaching the OSHA 10-hour class he once tried to avoid.


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