Safety Leader

Executive Director's Note: Risky Business

Published On
Feb 16, 2021

A risk can turn into an adverse event at any time, which can then cascade into greater hazards, damages and losses. While businesses face a multitude of risks—project failures and delays, legal liabilities, credit risks, safety and criminal activity, to name a few—the greatest responsibility in terms of risk is people’s safety.

It’s a new year for Safety Leader (and everybody else), but COVID-19 is still here. We can’t get away from it, so we touch on the topic in our news and training sections, with resources. In “Forming Fresh Habits,” Susan Bloom introduces safety directors who discuss how they have incorporated protocols learned in 2020 into their routines and their employees’ responses. I’m curious to learn what anti-fog glasses wipes Pat Baker found for the electricians at Southern Contracting.

In “A Whole New Way of Thinking,” Fred Sargent and Andrew McCoy name a concept that conscientious employers have used for years: the whole worker. They spoke with Joe Kopko, who reminds us that “we have to take into consideration the complete range of our workers’ needs and how they interface with the company.” This philosophy means that a good safety program isn’t the only way to keep employees at their healthiest and happiest. Kopko recommends focusing on employees’ minds, bodies and spirits.

Deborah L. O’Mara introduces us to manufacturers and integrators of emergency communication and mass notification systems in “Send the Right Message.” She also explains how electrical contractors can be a vital part of designing and installing these systems.

If you can’t eliminate every risk before you start a job, it is vital to identify and analyze the likelihood of risks that could impact your company’s assets, employees and operations. Then—considering influencing factors—determine whether you can reasonably tolerate the risk. 

Wes Wheeler’s quiz reminds us to monitor our personal health. As individuals, we can take responsible actions to lower risks on the job site, such as staying home when we’re sick. Powering through stress, illness or injuries doesn’t benefit anyone, and it may cause more harm than good. Reduce the risk where you can.  

About the Author

Michael Johnston

Executive Director of Standards and Safety, NECA

Michael Johnston is NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. He is a member of the NEC Correlating Committee, NFPA Standards Council, IBEW, UL Electrical Council and NFPA’s Electrical Section. Reach him at

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