Grad profile

Daniel York

Workplace accident inspires musician Daniel York to improve safety for others. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

“When you’re dealing with safety, it’s all about people.”

After losing the vision in his left eye from a workplace accident, Daniel York knew he wanted to prevent similar injuries from happening to others. Today, as a safety advisor at the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC, his goal is to make sure employees are protected at work. His new job involves helping manufacturing companies develop and enforce safety programs, achieve compliance with workplace safety standards, and increase communication and culture around safety. He also acts as a consultant and advisor on site inspections and incident investigations.

As a trained musician and composer, Daniel is a creative and critical thinker—skills he has transferred to his safety career.

“When I’m tasked with a challenge and can resolve it, it gives me a really strong sense of accomplishment,” he says. “Doing that for a cause like improving safety is something I really believe in.”

After completing his music degree, Daniel found himself working in the non-profit sector, advocating for safety procedures and naturally taking on the role of safety coordinator. He spent several years gaining applied industry experience, before deciding to formalize his education through SFU’s Occupational Health and Safety program. He now credits the program with helping him land his new role.

Photo by Greg Ehlers.

“The diploma was instrumental in me moving up, so going back was a very good decision. It has paid for itself.”

But balancing studies with work and family life was a challenge. In addition to his full-time job, he and his wife were expecting their first child. Daniel says he stayed on course thanks in part to encouragement from his instructors, who often shared advice and personal experience to complement classroom learning.

“The instructors were very supportive and amazingly knowledgeable,” he says. “When they became impassioned it was inspiring to see how much love they have for what they’re doing.”

One of his favourite aspects of the program was being in a classroom among like-minded peers, where he could network and learn from other people’s experiences.  

“When you’re dealing with safety, it’s all about people,” he says. “Everyone in the program was focused on improving safety, and it’s great to be in that environment.”

Daniel plans to continue his professional development and move into roles with higher responsibility, where he can make an even bigger impact. For now, with a recent move to Chilliwack—and another little one on the way—Daniel is excited to enjoy this new life chapter. 

“When you’re dealing with safety, it’s all about people.”

More about Daniel

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A pilot. I always looked up at the planes and wanted to fly. That was one of my coolest dreams. Funny how things change!

What’s one food you would never give up?

Sushi. Ever. Didn’t even have to think about it. I’ve already tried a couple of restaurants in Chilliwack—yes, I can live there.

If you could hang out with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

That’s a big list. George Crumb is one that comes to mind, musically. He was an American composer in the ’60s and ’70s. He redefined how to score music. He was an out-of-the-box kind of thinker, and always inspired me in that way.

Where is your favourite place that you’ve travelled to?

My wife and I recently did a choir tour in Europe. The countryside in France was amazing, just seeing the history there. I would also love to see more of Northern Canada.

What sort of music do you enjoy listening to or writing?

What piques my interest is music that has something intricate to it. Something a little more complicated that you may not get on the first listen. So George Crumb on the contemporary music side, and Roger Sessions. On the other side, Dream Theater, Symphony X. I like progressive rock, European goth metal. Before I studied classical music, I was a bassist for a heavy metal band!