Safety Never Sleeps

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

I’ve been known to commit to things that sound like a good idea at the time. The closer I get to actually having to follow through on those commitments, the less appealing they often seem. Booking a 6 a.m. flight from Austin to Lubbock was one of those commitments.

The purpose of my trip was a two-day ride-along with Larry Homen, a Texas Mutual senior safety services consultant based in our Lubbock office. Actually, Larry’s “office” is a four-door Chevy Impala. He spends the bulk of his time behind the wheel, travelling to job sites across West Texas. His mission: Help policyholders prevent workplace accidents. Larry graciously invited me to tag along and learn a little more about the business of safety.

D & K Hunt in Lubbock leans on veteran electricians like Travis Klekar (left) to mentor new employees. The company's mentor program includes classroom and on-the-job training.

D & K Hunt in Lubbock leans on veteran electricians like Travis Klekar (left) to teach new employees how to do the job safely. The company’s mentor program includes classroom and on-the-job training.

To make a 6 a.m. flight, I had to get up at 4 a.m., which wasn’t a great start to a long day. The shuttle ride from the airport parking lot to the terminal provided a far too brief opportunity to nurse my coffee, clear the cobwebs and remind myself to avoid early-morning flights in the future. I suspect some of my traveling companions felt the same.

By 9 a.m., I was at my hotel in Lubbock. I hadn’t even gotten inside the lobby before I crossed paths with Larry. He was waiting for me in the parking lot, day planner and cell phone in hand.

“They’ve got your room ready,” said Larry. “Go ahead and check in, change and let’s get going.” I didn’t even have a chance to see if the hotel offered cable T.V. or free breakfast before we arrived at our first job site.

For the next two days, Larry and I logged hundreds of miles in and around the Lubbock area. Our travels took us to a mechanic shop, a construction site and an oil well so remote that if our GPS had a more robust vocabulary, it would have surely said something along the lines of, “You want to go where?”

When we weren’t navigating dirt roads and cotton fields, we were in offices reviewing policyholders’ accident trends and suggesting preventive measures. It was coffee in the car and lunch on the fly. I imagine we would have eaten in the car if it weren’t a safety hazard.

Everything went smoothly until our last visit. My flight was at 6 p.m., and Larry was enthusiastically touting the ROI of return-to-work at 4:30 p.m. Sensing my panic, he assured me I had nothing to worry about. Turns out, he was right. You really can get anywhere in Lubbock in about 15 minutes, even during “rush hour.” So there was plenty of time for Larry to share his expertise with this employer.

Employees at PLASKA Transmission Line understand the importance of watching each other's backs on the job. Here, a PLASKA electrician repairs a power line as a co-worker watches for hazards.

Employees at PLASKA Transmission Line understand the importance of watching each other’s backs on the job. Here, a PLASKA electrician repairs a power line as a co-worker watches for hazards.

And that brings me to the second principle of safety I picked up during my Lubbock visit.

We cannot afford to focus on safety only when it’s convenient. Safety has to be a constant presence that continuously evolves to meet our changing needs. It has to be a value that never gets compromised, even when we have to drag ourselves out of bed before the sun comes up. For safety to thrive, it can never sleep.

For the first installment in this series, “Safety Meets People Where They Are,” click here.

About the author
David Wylie is the senior technical writer at Texas Mutual Insurance Company. He works closely with Texas Mutual’s safety professionals to teach employers and their employees how to prevent workplace accidents and their associated costs. David holds the OSHA 10-hour general safety certification and a degree in journalism from Southwest Texas State University.

Links to and from this blog do not reflect any affiliation between Texas Mutual Insurance Company and third parties, and are not an endorsement by Texas Mutual Insurance Company of the linked sites (or their owners or operators) or of any content located there. Texas Mutual Insurance Company does not vouch for the availability or accuracy of any information contained on linked sites.

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