Many of the Bureau's employees live in the part of the state for which they are responsible. You can find the staff profiles of these Safety Bureau representatives to contact below.
Safety and Health Specialists
Vidya Balasubramanian - Butte
Vidya received her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Chemistry from The University of Madras and University of Pune, India before coming to USA. She is a resident of Butte, Montana for the last six years. She received her Master’s in Industrial Hygiene in 2008 from Montana Tech. Her research during her graduate studies involved X-ray florescence enabled sampling and quantification of lead migration from lead based paint. Her research paper on this study has been accepted as a feature article in the Journal of Environmental Health (JEH) and is scheduled to be published in July 2011.
Following her graduate work she was employed with Portage Inc., an environmental consulting company, for the last two years serving as an environmental data validation specialist for radiochemical, inorganic, and organic data for INL and other clients.
Vidya strongly believes safety is a primary consideration in the quality associated with most products, processes and industries and that every employee has the right to a competent safety program.· An effective safety program adds value to any company’s vision and mission.
Edward Dawes - Helena
Ed is a native Montanan; he received a Bachelor of Science Degree from MSU Northern in 1970 and started his working career in the Butte Berkley Pit mine in 1970 where he achieved Journeyman status as Mechanic/Machinist with the International Association of Machinists. He also worked as a mechanic and welder in a Montana State Motor pool. He taught Vocational Automotive Mechanics, Welding and Small Engine Repair at Capital High School from 1974 through 1998. From 1998 through 2003 Ed managed the American Automobile Association Approved Auto Repair network in Montana, Wyoming and Alaska where he certified as a Master Automotive Service Excellence Technician. Ed also instructed for Elite Business Management Training Systems, and managed the FORD/AAA Student Auto Skills program in Alaska.
In 1999 Ed was appointed a Certified Arbitrator to the National Center for Dispute Settlement to resolve Magnuson Moss new vehicle safety disputes.
Ed first certified as a Structure Fire Fighter 1 in 1972. He presided over the Multi County Fire Investigation Team for 5 years starting in 2000, and served the team as a Fire Cause & Origin Investigator, and Fire Scene Photographer.· Starting Wildland Firefighting in 1995 Ed worked as a Fire Equipment (heavy) Inspector, Training Officer, Engine Boss and a Fire Safety Officer Type III. Ed has been a firefighter with the Clancy Volunteer Fire Department for the past 20 years.
From 2003 to 2009 Ed was a Workers’ Compensation/Independent Contractor Law, Specialist for Montana Department of Labor & Industry and is a graduate of Mosaic Manager Workplace Development program in 2004.
Chris Lockmer - Butte
Chris graduated from The University of Montana, Montana Tech in 2006 with his Bachelor’s in Occupational Health and Safety, and in 2007 with his Master’s in Industrial Hygiene. Upon graduating Chris has worked in the construction and petroleum industries. Also, Chris has obtained his Certified Safety Professional and Occupational Health and Safety Technologist certifications.
Marissa Morgan - Great Falls
Marissa Morgan recently completed her M.S. in Industrial Hygiene and received a B.S. in Occupational Safety and Health – Science and Engineering. She chose this profession to assist individuals with occupational/environmental health and safety concerns as encountered on the job. Throughout the past several years she has worked in the oil and gas industry and on an EPA superfund site. The oil and gas field experience included air sampling for benzene, total hydrocarbons, and hydrogen sulfide; additionally, she conducted noise surveys and dosimetry assessments.
During her job site supervision and safety support tasks, Marissa gained the respect of the employees involved. She has conducted field audits for compliance of OSHA which allowed for field experience in different operations. At the EPA/DEQ superfund site in Troy, Montana, her responsibilities included data collection, field technician supervision, quality control/quality assurance, and data management. Her hard work and dedication has allowed her to fulfill many different experiences, enabling greater responsibilities.
Jennifer Rose - Billings
Jennifer is a native Montanan and received her Bachelor's Degree in Occupational Safety and Health from Montana Tech of the University of Montana. She worked for 10 years as a safety consultant for worker’s compensation insurance which included working with a wide variety of employers and industries such as construction, manufacturing, oil/gas, mining, tire shops, restaurants etc. On-site visits were performed to evaluate work sites, work process/practices, company safety programs, identified loss sources and provided recommendations to reduce the risk of injury as well as increase the overall safety culture. Resource and safety training were provided as needed to employers.
Mine Inspectors / Trainers
Dave L. Armstrong CMSP - Kalispell
Mine Inspector/Training Officer Sand & Gravel Operations
Dave serves as a metal/non-metal mine inspector with the Department of Labor and Industry and assists in our mine training efforts during the busiest times of the year in an effort to ensure that all miners receive their annual refresher course in a timely manner.
Mr. Armstrong has a wealth of experience in mine safety and in general industry, especially in the forest products area. He worked both underground and on the surface at the ASARCO mine in Libby, Montana, beginning as a warehouseman and eventually served in various other capacities such as mechanic, powder man, nipper, roof bolter, etc. He was fortunate enough to receive safety-related training in almost all aspects of mining, both underground and surface, during his eight-year career with ASARCO.
In his 10-year stint with Louisiana Pacific he was the chief loss control officer for the region that included Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. One of his main duties was to train personnel in the proper use of safety equipment. Along those lines he was proficient in more than 20 different categories of safety from Job Safety Analysis (JSA) to Safety Committees.
Gordon Brannon - Colstrip
Mine Inspector / Training Officer
Gordon lives in Colstrip, Montana and is married and has three sons and two Granddaughters. His hobbies include painting, outdoors, and restoring old cars.
He has been with the state in this position since 1/15/07. He is a Certified Mine Safety Professional and has his surface and underground training designations from MSHA. He has his Coal Mine Foreman Papers from Colorado and Montana. He is also a certified trainer by Medic First Aid in CPR/First Aid and AED. Gordon is currently an EMT-I (Nationally and State certified).
Prior to joining the State of Montana he retired from Peabody Energy Company (largest coal company in the US) with 33 years of service in management and worked in numerous positions in the coal mining field and worked and trained at all their operations thru the years. While living in Colstrip, he worked on the county and private ambulance service for 29 years.
He operated his own safety, environmental, and security consulting business for two years and had training plans with MSHA in Underground and Surface and worked at Craig, Colorado.· Also he worked with MESCO and constructed and repaired large draglines and shovels in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Gordon brings both a bachelors of science (Environmental and Safety Management) and masters’ degree (Environmental Safety Management) to the Safety and Health Bureau and has taken many other engineering classes from other universities.
Berke Brown - Bozeman
Mine Inspector / Training Officer
Berke’s background comes from the Mining Industry. Berke spent 11 years underground (between metal non metal and coal mining) doing many different tasks from being the entry-level new hire employee to supervising crews of 20-30 people to safety coordinator/trainer. Berke has been with the Department of Labor and Industry only about 4 months but enjoys his job. Berke is a high school graduate and has some college.
Jerry Metcalf - Hardin
Coal/Sand & Gravel
An experienced coal miner, Jerry worked over 25 years in various positions at the same mine beginning in 1972. In that time he gained expertise in all facets of mine operations. In addition to-his employment experience, he is a veteran trainer in other aspects of safety, like archery and horsemanship.
Although his main duties lie in the area of mine inspections, Jerry is an effective safety instructor. He holds CPR certification. He is certified by the State of Montana as a construction blaster and a coal mine foreman. He assists with new miner and refresher classes when needed. He holds an instructor's card for Basic First Aid through Medic First Aid.
Bill Schwarzkoph - Forsyth
Bill serves mainly as a coal mine inspector for the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. However, he also inspects sand and gravel operations for safety concerns. He assists in training miners in first aid, new miner and annual refresher training and in coal mine foreman certification.
Having worked 17 years in the coal mines as a reclamation inspector and consultant, both for government and as a private citizen, Mr. Schwarzkoph is highly qualified and familiar with their operations. He brings both a bachelors and masters degree to the Safety and Health Bureau along with certifications for coal mine foreman, surface and underground instructor and medic first aid training credentials. He is a lifetime member of the American Society of Surface Mining and Reclamation (ASSMR).
Judy Murphy - Helena
Judy has a Master’s Degree in Industrial Hygiene and has been with the Montana Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Bureau since 1999. She has 20 years of experience in the field of environmental health and safety. Through the Occupational Safety and Health Bureau Ms. Murphy provides industrial hygiene services to public and private businesses, including inspections, indoor air quality investigations, contaminant monitoring, ergonomic evaluations, noise monitoring, and assistance with programs such as Hazard Communication and Blood Borne Pathogens.
Prior to her work for the Occupational Safety and Health Bureau she worked several years at New Horizon Technologies in Butte as a health and safety consultant, for the University of Cincinnati Arsenic Project in Anaconda, and for PTI Environmental Services.
Tiffany Ott - Butte
Tiffany received her Master's Degree in Industrial Hygiene and her Bachelor's degree in Occupational Safety and Health - Science and Engineering from Montana Tech of the University of Montana. During her career as an industrial hygienist she has worked as a consultant offering occupational hygiene service.· She has worked with public and private sector businesses providing Indoor environmental quality evaluations, safety inspections, and safety and health training. Tiffany resides in Butte with her husband and two children and is actively involved in Ott’s Halloween Haunt; a family operated fund raiser benefiting local charities for 20 years.
Kristine Witt - Butte
Kristi graduated from Montana Tech with a B.S. in Occupational Safety and Health in 2009, and graduated in May of 2011 with an M.S. in Industrial Hygiene.
For three years Kristi worked as a Health and Wellness Tech at St. James Hospital in Butte and has worked as economic consultant for Conoco at their Thompson Falls facility.
Kristi played Volleyball for Montana Tech and continues to enjoy her lifelong love of athletics by coaching at Butte High School. She also volunteers for Special Olympics.
Joe Wolf - Billings
Joe has been in the field of Safety, Health, and Environmental control for over 20 years and has worked in the Public and Private Sectors. He began his studies at MT. College of Mineral Science and Technology ( MT. Tech.) in 1974 after serving 3 years in the Army during the Vietnam conflict. Joe graduated with a BS degree in Occupational Safety and Health in 1979 and worked as a loss Control Rep for a commercial insurance company and a Safety Engineer at the Idaho National Engineering Lab for 5 years before returning to graduate school. He then gratuated from MT. Tech. in 1985 with a MS in Industrial Hygiene.
Joe worked for the Washington State OSHA program (WISHA) from 1985-2000 as a compliance and consultation Industrial Hygienist and worked for several years with Presant and Associates as a IH consultant and trainer.
Fred Miller - Great Falls
Fred Miller specialized in workers’ compensation as a commercial insurance agent in Helena and Great Falls for Liberty Northwest and Western States. He also worked as a journalist in Lewistown, Havre, and Great Falls. He currently is a Safety Specialist with the Montana Safety Bureau, helping workers and businesses understand the importance of workplace safety and how to identify and eliminate workplace hazards. He has earned the Associate of Risk Management and Associate of Underwriting designations from the Insurance Institute of America.
David de Fer - Helena
David de Fer started his career in 1974 at 16 years old working for a large engineering firm and the City of Sparks, Nevada as a civil draftsman where he also learned basic land surveying. In 1979 David went into construction and worked for over 27 years as a carpenter, foreman and superintendent on numerous projects in California, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii. In 2007 David accepted a position as Training Director for the Montana Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Training Council where he taught 95% of all classes. Since 2012 he has worked for the Montana Safety & Health Bureau as an Occupational Safety & Health Specialist and Trainer. David is an authorized OSHA Construction and General Industry instructor.