WWJ Closeup, June 2019

JIM WRIGHT
Director of Safety and Health
Terracon Consultants Inc.
Olathe, Kansas

Received the 2012 NGWA Safety Advocate Award, chaired and served on the NGWA Safety Subcommittee multiple times, and is a regular presenter of safety workshops at Groundwater Week.

THE BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED?
My parents with the advice of “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I translate this to safety as asking, “Would I be willing to work on that site?” Now that I’m a father, I ask, “Would I be willing to have my son or daughter do that job?”

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL SELF?
Work less, maybe? I think I’ve done a pretty good job of balancing career and personal life, although my kids might disagree. They love the frequent flyer miles though! The drilling industry has taken me all over the world and I’ve met the best people.

MOST SATISFYING PART OF YOUR JOB?
When I hear something I did or said saved someone from getting hurt. As a safety professional, we seldom hear about when people didn’t get hurt. The stories that mean the most are from workers who take safety home and live a better life because of it.

TOUGHEST CHALLENGE FACING WATER WELL CONTRACTORS?
From a safety standpoint, staffing and training. Finding employees who will make drilling or pump service a career is tough. Training them is tougher. A good example is driving a pickup truck. Many young people have never driven a large vehicle. We have to teach them how to drill—and drive.

THE MOST COMMON SAFETY MISTAKE I SEE?
Making a safety program too complicated. Safety is easy! It boils down to a personal choice to be safe. People get hurt when they make an unsafe choice—taking a shortcut, not wearing PPE, bypassing a drill rig’s emergency stop button.

YOUR FAVORITE SAFETY RESOURCE?
Google and YouTube. Working for a large company, I have resources available to me that small companies may not, but the Internet opens tremendous, free safety resources to everyone. Search “welding safety” for example, and training videos, example policy documents, photos, and safety alerts are at your fingertips.

SMART SAFETY FOR WATER WELL SYSTEM PROFESSIONALS MEANS . . .
Keeping it personal. Spouse, kids, mom, dad— they are the ones who will be affected the most by your injury. Before you take a safety shortcut, think about the people who depend on you, then decide if the shortcut is worth it.