Safety Leader

All About the People

Since the first issue of Safety Leader in February, the world has become a different place. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyday life and taken many lives. In the future, the way the electrical and construction industries manage safety and health on the job will be different and, I’m confident, far and away improved.

May is National Electrical Safety Month, but I think about safety all the time. No matter its size, an organization’s biggest responsibility is the safety of its people, which are its greatest asset. What keeps me up at night is the thought of the many electrical contractors that have excellent employees in their fold, but their safety programs are managed by a single employee with multiple other responsibilities, such as estimating, project management and purchasing. This is all too common, however, the responsibility can’t rest on just one person’s shoulders.

Our industry faces significant challenges related to maintaining and growing a sufficient workforce. As the aging workforce prepares for and enters retirement, I am concerned about the overall impact these changes will have on safety. Safety is not something that can be automated or placed on autopilot. I once heard it said that, “If you think safety is expensive, try having an incident or fatality.” Employers are responsible for their employees and the employees to themselves, their families and their employers.

This issue of SAFETY LEADER features a roundtable with industry professionals, a discussion about risk management and a very moving article about arc-flash incident survivors who later took on safety leadership positions at their companies. As SAFETY LEADER carries out its mission to reach the industry with timely, focused safety messaging, it is important to recall valuable lessons learned, keep an eye on managing the challenges in the present, and plan for the evolution and opportunities that definitely loom on the horizon. 

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 chair of the NEC Correlating Committee; chair of the NFPA Electrical Section; and a member of the IBEW, NFPA Education Section and the UL Electrical Council. Reach him at mj...

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