June is National Safety Month, and one of the topics of focus this year is Building a Safety Culture. “Safe and Compliant or Not at All” is one of our core values here at Heritage, and part of upholding that value means having not only an experienced leader at the head of our safety operations, but someone with a passion for it. In March of this year, Jim Mangas joined the Heritage team as our new Director of Safety. He came to Heritage with nearly 20 years of safety leadership – including direct relevant experience in manufacturing and chemical environments. He leads with vision, focus and a positive attitude – and has a proven track record for establishing and executing safety programs and processes across organizations. We interviewed him to get his perspective on building a safety culture, and what that means in our industry and at Heritage.
How did you get started in health & safety? Why did you choose this path?
My first few years out of high school I was a firefighter/paramedic. I started doing some safety work on the side and it sparked my interest, so I went into the field full time. I like safety because we get the chance to prevent something bad from happening. As a firefighter/paramedic we were mostly reacting to something that happened. Safety professionals get the opportunity to get ahead of the incidents and make a difference.
What is the biggest challenge(s) you have faced as a safety leader/director during your career?
I feel like my biggest challenge has been getting company leaders to move beyond compliance, that the OSHA standard is not enough in many cases. Unfortunately, many feel that doing the minimum is enough. I am sure many safety professionals have heard the same line that I have for many years “We only have to meet the OSHA Standard”. I read a quote somewhere that says, “the minimum is one small step above inadequate”. That is exactly how I feel. We must continually find better, safer ways to work. Safety has to evolve with the workplace. To do this, companies should be looking at industry best practices and benchmarking others that are doing safety right
How can businesses make safety more ingrained in their culture?
Safety must be a core value, the highest regarded value. It is the highest held value because it’s about people. Safety is not a value that is just talked about but one that we live out. It must be the way you do everything in your business. Everyone from the CEO to the janitor must act upon this value.
Why did you decide to join Heritage?
Growing up in Indiana, Heritage is a well-known company, family owned, and they have a great reputation. Not only are they a safe company, but they lead the way in safety. I wanted to work for a company that gives back to the community, and Heritage does that in many ways.
What does Heritage’s core value of “Safe and Compliant or Not at All” mean to you?
I love this, it was one of the first things I read on the website before I interviewed for the role. This means that if our workers get into a situation that is not safe or not compliant, they have the power to stop. We will not start the job or finish the job until we are certain it can be done safely. Every Heritage employee, visitor and contractor has that power. This means we are living out the value and that is exactly what we want.
What initiatives are you most excited about implementing or advancing at Heritage?
Heritage has a great Health & Safety Process. Our culture is very safety driven. For me, that means the foundational safety principles are in place and working well. I will be focusing on continuous improvement looking for better ways to do safety. We will be implementing a Serious Injury & Fatality Prevention (SIF) Process. We want workers to be able to identify SIF potential in their routine, everyday tasks so we can stop it before anything happens. With SIF, you can’t take the business as usual approach, it takes a paradigm shift to make the needed impact.
To learn more about National Safety Month, visit: https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/get-involved/national-safety-month
To learn about some of our safety initiatives, check out some of our other blog posts on the topic.
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