OPPD’s Tricia Browning moved to Nebraska from Minnesota in 2014. After spending years as a nurse in schools and hospitals, she started working at an electric utility.
“Never would I have seen or envisioned myself in this type of environment,” Browning, OPPD’s occupational health nurse, said from her office at Fort Calhoun Station (FCS). “But it has pushed and driven me in new ways.”
One of those ways is OPPD’s commitment to safety. It was one of the things that struck her early on after she started to work at OPPD.
“OPPD does safety really well,” she said. “The more we can promote health and wellness for our employees and keep them safe on the job, the better our business runs. This commitment to safety helps fulfill OPPD’s mission.”
Keeping employees safe is in line with the utility’s core value of caring for each other. Browning said OPPD’s safety culture led her to pursue her master’s degree in Safety and Occupational Health. Her nursing background gives her work in OPPD’s Safety department a different perspective.
She thanks her husband for the move. An opportunity in Nebraska for him to advance his career took the couple out of Minnesota. Ron Browning is originally from Grand Island and works as a hog procurement manager, she said. The couple, who met in Minnesota, have moved several times for jobs. That drove her to keep pushing herself professionally, she said.
Her previous jobs included working in hospitals, home care, hospice and as primary care manager for the Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, Minn. There, she was responsible for oversight and management of nursing practice within the outpatient setting as well as daily operations. She oversaw a staff of nearly 60 people. Her first job at OPPD was as the nurse at FCS, but her work has evolved to encompass anything health-related across the entire utility.
Browning’s role now includes the coordination and auditing of all annual physical exams for employees who serve on fire brigades, rope rescue teams, and other safety-sensitive positions. She also completes crane operator exams, respiratory exams, pulmonary function tests, assists with mask fittings, lead testing, as well as overseeing doctor’s referrals. Browning is the coordinator for OPPD’s corporate and Department of Transportation fitness-for-duty program and serves as the liaison for vendor occupational health services.
Her job also calls for plenty of record-keeping, data-collection and keeping up on various regulations. And she is always looking for ways to improve OPPD’s medical and safety programs.
Once she joined the safety team at OPPD, “I really started to develop this love and passion for safety.” She went on to pursue her masters degree in Safety and Occupational Health with an environmental management concentration.
“It was the best decision I’ve made,” she said. “It took my true love of nursing and my new-found passion for safety, married the two together, helping me perform better in my role. I’m looking through that medical lens and the impacts on safety and what else we can do preventatively to keep our employees safe. I’m committed to asking questions and advocating for the health and safety of OPPD employees.”
She was the only person in the master’s program with a background in healthcare. The courses played into the foundation she already had about body systems. Advanced courses included toxicology, industrial hygiene, research methods, and safety and accident prevention, among others. All courses impact employee health.
She wants OPPD employees to know that she is available to them as a health resource.
“I love to have those one-on-one conversations with employees who want to discuss different medications, a new diagnosis, or doctor referrals that can impact their overall health,” Browning said. “I want to do all that I can to promote health and wellness and keep employees safe on the job.”
Away from work, Browning kayaks, hunts deer and fishes. She also enjoys spending time at her family’s cabin and in the outdoors with her husband and two sons. She loves a good book or going on walks in her free time. But most of all, spending time with friends and family.
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