Putting safety on the shelf … literally

Family photos push an important message to work safely each and every day.

August 16, 2019 | By: Jay Adams, Bailee Campbell

Every day, employees at Denver Water’s Marston Treatment Plant walk past a unique message that reminds them of the most important things in their life.

The message reads “Why We Work Safe.” It sits atop a hand-crafted wooden shelf filled with pictures of the families and friends of the employees who work at the treatment plant.

The shelf is the result of a visit Patty Brubaker, Marston’s treatment plant operations manager, made to another treatment plant. Brubaker said she’s always looking for creative ways to promote safety among her employees.

“I came across the idea while visiting another treatment plant and wanted to do something similar here,” Brubaker said. “Safety is our top priority at Marston, and I thought having our own shelf would be a great way to keep it top of mind.”

Marston is one of Denver Water’s three potable water treatment plants, where workers take water from the mountains and make it safe to drink for 1.4 million people across the metro area.

“A lot of people don’t realize that a water treatment plant is an industrial facility and we have safety risks around us every day,” Brubaker said.

A man walks through an industrial room with pipes.
Denver Water employees face numerous safety hazards on the job at Marston Treatment Plant. Photo credit: Denver Water.


Whether it’s crawling into confined spaces, working around pipes with high water pressure, or handling disinfection products, Marston workers are surrounded by potential safety hazards.

To ensure workers stay safe on the job, the staff at Marston has daily safety briefings and year-round training programs.

Adding the shelf was part of Denver Water’s approach to safety, which focuses on training as well as making employees think about why they should stay safe on the job.

One of Denver Water’s employees at Marston does woodworking as a hobby, so Brubaker asked him if he could help.

A man wearing a Denver Water shirt smiles for the camera
Rich Bealer, senior utility technician, does maintenance work at Marston Treatment Plant in southwest Denver. Photo credit: Denver Water.


“Patty told me about her idea, and I was more than happy to share my skills,” said Rich Bealer, senior utility technician at Marston. “I built the shelf from scratch out of wood left over from the old Marston plant.”

The original Marston plant was built in southwest Denver in 1894 and rebuilt in 1926. Since then, it’s undergone a number of upgrades over the years.

Once the shelf was complete, the staff shared pictures of friends, family, hobbies, pets, and even a reference to retirement. Brubaker then printed and framed the images and put them on the shelf.

“The pictures offer the workers a chance to learn more about their colleagues,” Brubaker said. “It’s really brought us all closer together.”

Bealer included pictures of his wife and daughter.

“Seeing these pictures reminds me that I need to stay safe on the job so I can go home to my family,” Bealer said. “I love it, I really love it.”

2 thoughts on “Putting safety on the shelf … literally”

  1. Wow! LOVE THIS! To Patty, Rich, the Marston staff, and the staff who put this video together….what a perfect way to express how critical it is to be safe in everything we do. Beautiful!

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