Safety Leader

From the Field: Duwayne Herrmann, Jr.

Published On
Aug 12, 2021

Duwayne Herrmann, Jr. is the operations manager and master electrician for D&H Electrical Services in Beaumont, Texas. He is also in charge of safety. While Herrmann doesn’t consider himself a “safety professional,” he certainly does all he can to provide a safe work environment. Hermmann shared his insights about how safety procedures and the industry’s overall perspective toward safety have changed. 

How did you get to oversee safety at your company?

My wife and I, in 1992, took over American Electric, and then in 1994 re-incorporated the company as D&H. We do residential, commercial and industrial electrical work, and 60% of our work is commercial design-build. We used to have a full-time safety guy when we had 120–150 employees, but now that we’ve dropped down in size to 10 employees, I’m the one who ensures we provide a safe work environment. I’m doing this because I have an interest in job-site safety in an ever-changing environment.

We hold safety meetings with the electricians when they get paid on Thursdays. I also hand out documents about hot topics and we discuss them. We also discuss what’s going on with project safety to ensure everyone is on the same page.

What safety practices have been particularly effective?

We encourage our employees to walk and think through each project before they start work to see and note any potential safety issues. If any are found, they are to notify their foreman, job superintendent or me to review and decide the best way to complete the project safely. 

How do you encourage crews to take safety seriously on the job?

We remind them daily that it is more important that they return home that evening safe and unharmed for their family. There is no job worth risking injury.

Are COVID-19 safety practices on job sites changing? Will some practices continue to err on the side of caution? What do you envision for job sites in the summer and fall?

Yes. Job-site practices are changing weekly, but we will continue to require our employees to wear a proper face mask and practice social distancing where possible. I believe the summer will bring little change in our COVID practices, but possibly in the fall we can relax the measures.

Overall, did you learn lessons during the pandemic about safety in general that would benefit your efforts post-pandemic?

We all tend to take our employees for granted and do not show them that we really do care about them, and not just some safety policy. Not that a safety policy is not important—it is very important—but we should make sure they understand the policies are there to protect them.

How has safety within the electrical contracting industry changed in the last 30 years?

Safety over the years has changed so much. OSHA comes out with something new every day. The job is changing and the supervision on jobs is changing. Electricians nowadays are taking more responsibility for safety, not only for themselves, but also for all of the workers around them.

Do you have any advice for safety professionals?

Follow NECA Safety. Wes Wheeler and his team do an amazing job in keeping us up-to-date with the latest issues, along with the ability to reach out to them for any information your company may require. You can plug into NECA’s many resources on its website.

You should also make sure your workers follow through on what you discuss about safety. We’ve been fortunate; we’ve had no accidents. I think it’s because we’re more like a family, with normally 8–10 workers. They also know it makes a difference to their own families if they follow safe procedures because they go home to them at night.

Our workers also know that while they have to do a job in a certain amount of time, they are not going to push themselves, because that’s when they are most likely to make mistakes that cause injuries or even death. I tell them if a job takes two hours longer if you do it safely, then take that time—I’m not going to sacrifice some guy’s arm to save two hours of labor.

About the Author

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than three decades of experience writing about the construction industry, and her articles have been featured in the Associated General Contractor’s Constructor magazine, the American Fence Association’s Fencepost, the...

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