Safety is Kentucky Guardsman’s middle name

By Walt Leaumont, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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State Safety NCO Sgt. 1st Class Ken Varble provides advice to a unit in the field from his office in Frankfort, Ky. Feb. 25, 2016. In late 2015, Varble became the first Soldier in the Kentucky Army National Guard to pass the Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST) exam. (Kentucky National Guard Photo by Walt Leaumont)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — ‘Safety is no accident’ is a common slogan used in the National Guard. To operate safely, it takes training, awareness, and professionals to advise and train. One of those professionals for the Kentucky Guard is Sgt. 1st Class Ken Varble, a three-year veteran of the State Safety Office.

Recently he achieved a major milestone in his career as he became the first Soldier in the Kentucky Army National Guard to pass the Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST) exam. Having achieved a certification shows you have mastered the core knowledge required for professional safety practice. The OSHT credential is a validation of Varble’s professional expertise and a product of his training, self-development and on the job experience.

“This was an extremely difficult test that took a year to prepare for and over 4 hours to take,” said Varble. “I feel like I have accomplished a lot, and am glad to add the experience to my role with the Kentucky Guard.”

The certification adds to Varble’s position as a subject matter expert in all things safety. He regularly advises units and Soldiers on the appropriate regulations and guidelines of safety. Of the numerous manuals, handbooks or rules set forth by the Army or government safety organizations, Varble knows where to find the answer. He also ensures units and armories have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) required to perform their job.

One weekend a month, Varble serves as a maintenance platoon sergeant with Kentucky’s 351st Aviation Maintenance Company.

Capt. Josh Witt, the State Safety Officer, said Varble is one of only 37 active OHSTs in the Commonwealth, and one of 1,800 nationwide.

“The Kentucky National Guard is privileged to have such a self-motivated and highly proficient operator on our team,” said Witt. “His accomplishment represents countless hours of study, academic preparation, and hands-on experience. Sgt. 1st Class Varble has distinguished himself as a fully qualified and capable ambassador in the field of Safety and Occupational health.”

“Having the OSHT certification increases my standing within the Safety Community,” said Varble.  “It also gives me credibility and added confidence when I conduct unit visits.”

Although this certifies him as an expert, it is by no means the end of his training and education. Varble is currently attending Eastern Kentucky University working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Safety and Occupational Health and certification in Career Program 12 from the U.S. Army Safety Center.

 

 

 

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