“A safe job is a profitable job,” said Haley N. Masbruch, project manager and service coordinator at Danard Electric Inc. in Tacoma, Wash. I spoke to Masbruch to learn more about how maintaining a safe workplace benefits employees and the company’s ultimate performance.
Describe your interest in safety.
We consider all the managers to be safety officers for their job sites. I am so interested in becoming more educated in safety practices because I really care for the crews that work for me, and I want them to have a safe workplace so they can have a good quality of life. It’s really about caring for people. I also enjoy the process of analyzing a project and coming up with ways to keep people safe in challenging environments.
What safety practices have been particularly effective at Danard?
We have a really strong culture of safety and have included it in our company’s core values. Nothing is more important to us, and we make clear that safety comes first over everything. We share with the [workers] that a safe job is a profitable job, it makes us look great as a company and it allows us to bid jobs for customers with strict safety requirements because we know how to do the job right and safely. We require pre-task planning for the major steps of a job. By doing that, we can discuss how we want to go about the task and safety considerations that go along with it.
Is there a specific injury or almost-injury that changed how you thought about safety on the job?
Yes. In my first week of my electrical apprenticeship, I almost got someone killed when a load of conduit I was trying to offload slipped off the loading dock, fell two stories and landed near workers below. I wasn’t paying attention when I offloaded it, and it impressed on me very clearly that I should never do anything on a job site without making sure it will be done safely for myself and for those around me.
What challenges do you face in managing safety responsibilities for your company?
For my crew, I face the challenge of not always being able to supervise the safety of my job sites as closely as I would like to. I have had to put a lot of reliance on my crew to identify hazards and really plan out their work so they can be as safe as possible. Most of the time, my crew works on one- or two-person jobs that don’t have a general contractor with a dedicated safety professional, so we rely on each other quite a bit to keep our job sites safe. Also, I make it a point to be open about how important mental health is, and that if a person is having issues outside of work, I am more than happy to connect them with someone who can help them or just talk with them to relieve any inside pressure that might be building up. When a person is not focused on their work, that is when accidents can happen.
How do you encourage crews to take safety seriously on the job?
I do this by being consistent in my expectations for them and by making sure they know that their safety is much more important to me than profit on a job. If the crew doesn’t feel under too much pressure and can take the time they need to do things right and do it safely, our projects will be successful. I also encourage them to be safe by reminding them that a safe job is a successful job. Finally, I try to make safety personal for each one of them. They are not working safely just for themselves; they are doing it for their friends, co-workers, partners and children.
Do you have any other advice for safety professionals?
I would encourage them to be consistent with their safety requirements, not forget the role that mental health can play in job safety and not forget to create a culture in their workplace of trust so people feel comfortable talking to them about concerns.
Masbruch began her career in the electrical industry in 2011 when joining the JATC. She began working for Danard Electric as an apprentice in 2014. After becoming a journey-level worker in 2016 and graduating at the top of her class, Masbruch moved into the office to become a service manager. Her continued drive to learn has made her a strong part of the company’s management team. Masbruch also represents Danard Electric as a member of the NECA National Codes and Standards Committee, serves on the technical committee for NEC Code-Making Panel 9 and teaches electrical continuing education classes at the local IBEW/NECA training center.