It takes everyone in an organization—from top leadership to craftspeople—to ensure a company is performing procedures as safely as possible, according to safety professional Michael Giordano.
Giordano has more than 31 years of experience in substation electrical testing and maintenance, distribution engineering, regulatory compliance and storm response. He has held various engineering and leadership roles with municipal and investor-owned utilities, giving him a unique perspective on safety, employee development and customer attention.
Giordano’s current role is safety director at Haugland Energy Group LLC in Melville, N.Y., where he leverages his diverse background to assist all the Haugland Group companies. He is a professional engineer registered in New York and Connecticut.
How did you get into the safety field and what do you like best about it?
Early in my career I had the opportunity to work for a safety consulting firm, [through] which I enjoyed the travel and variety of work. As time passed, it became evident that safety was the top priority of each role that I was in. When the opportunity presented itself to work in the safety field again, it was a natural fit at Haugland Group, based on the company’s expertise in utility infrastructure construction and storm response.
How have safety policies and procedures for line work changed over the years?
Equipment, tools and work methods continue to evolve for line construction. However, the emphasis on safety has shifted to employee development by providing leadership training that includes human performance concepts and tools [and] additional periodic hands-on training.
As head of safety for lineworkers, what are the biggest challenges and how do you approach them?
Aligning new employees with our safety program is a challenge; however, the biggest challenge is ensuring employees stay aligned with the company’s safety culture. Success starts with a strong training by staff who introduce new personnel to our safety expectations. Those expectations are reinforced by our field leadership and safety team, who collectively train, educate and assist with safe production.
Areas of safety improvement are immediately communicated, corrected and documented for everyone’s benefit. This way the individual, crew, field leadership and training staff stay in a cycle of continuous improvement.
How do you get lineworkers to take safety seriously?
Lineworkers typically take safety seriously, knowing that being “perfectly safe” is the only option, with dire consequences otherwise. What helps them further is knowing they have a safety team who not only understands codes, regulations and the customer’s expectations, but has field experience or has performed the work. This speaks volumes not only with apprentice lineworkers, but with those who are tenured in their craft.
Any advice for professionals just getting into the safety field?
There is more to being a safety professional than book knowledge, enforcing rules and identifying present and future hazards in the field. Get to know your co-workers. Successful safety professionals are those who, by listening to the skilled craftworkers, can identify opportunities to help beyond what they see on the job.
Anything else you would like readers of LINE CONTRACTOR to consider?
Please do not let an opportunity pass to talk to someone when it’s clear that they are struggling. When someone’s demeanor is off, there may be a profound reason why. A conversation just might improve their day or save their life.
Haugland Energy Group, a unit of Haugland Group, provides testing and commissioning services to utilities and generator owners for their protection and control projects. The unit also provides proactive and cost-effective maintenance services to ensure proper operation of all aspects of electric power transmission, distribution and generation systems.
Haugland Group is an infrastructure services company with subsidiaries and affiliates that provide a wide range of energy and civil construction services along the eastern seaboard—from Maine to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Services include engineering, design/build, project management, project finance and development.