Remembering Dr. Jan Thomas, CSP

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Dr. Jan Thomas, CSP, a long-time friend and business associate on the weekend of August 14, 2020. Her sudden passing has been a shock to me and all who knew her.

The first time I met Jan, she was a Virginia OSHA inspector inspecting the AT&T plant on Laburnum Avenue, where I was a young IH. It was my first experience with an OSHA inspection.  It was kind of scary, but she was really impressive. A few years later, I joined the Colonial Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (now Professionals). I got the chance to know her. There were very few women involved in safety at that time, and we often joked that the men had trouble keep us straight. This began a lasting friendship.

Jan was devoted to the profession. She was instrumental in developing a Confined Space Standard in Virginia, years before Federal OSHA “got around to it.” She was also instrumental in bringing the short-lived Safety degree program to Virginia Commonwealth University and is responsible for training many of the safety professionals in the area. She served as President of the local chapter of the ASSE and continued to be an active participant in the organization throughout her career. Her early career achievements are too numerous to list.

In 1995, both Jan and I were at loose ends in our careers, and at her suggestion, we formed Circle Safety and Health Consultants, LLC. That was a big leap for safety folks and very scary. But with Jan’s grit and perseverance, we made it work. Circle still has clients that joined us in our early days. Jan retired from Circle in 2011 to do other things, but I knew she would be back in safety. Keeping workers safe was in her heart and soul.  It wasn’t long before she was back in the business. She was employed by C.T Purcell and giving it her all until her sudden passing. I think that is the way she would want to go, keeping her workers safe till the end.

The world has lost a motivated, dedicated safety professional.  She will be missed by me and the entire Richmond safety community.

Adieu Friend.


Anna Jolly

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