As an Occupational Safety and Health Specialist for DHPC Technologies, Michael Stefanick embodies what it means to be a Safety Hero. Currently, Stefanick is contracted to the Department of Defense to provide help with the development of their safety program.
Through the program, Stefanick is tasked with providing government personnel with expertise in accident investigation, training, and hazard analysis.
Why did you choose your profession?
I went into the safety profession because of the way my family was impacted by workplace illnesses.
I lost my grandfather to black lung related health complications. After seeing my family suffer, I wanted to go into a profession where I could change lives and help other families so they didn’t end up like mine.
What is the most important thing to do to be effective in your role?
The most important quality to have as a safety professional is being able to communicate with employees. Communication is vital in all organizations, so developing relationships with management and the workforce through communication is key to being successful. Those relationships take time to building but once established allow for an effective safety program.
Have you ever had an incident that changed you, and how did you approach it with your role?
During my internship, I had the privilege to work under an experienced safety professional. He allowed me to review some of a previous accidents that he had [managed and/or been around].
One of those specifically has always impacted how I do my job: The incident resulted in a fatality, which was caused by the employee just trying to help a colleague.
I use the incident as a constant reminder of how fragile life is, as well as a training example that sometimes people with the best intentions are jeopardizing their our safety.
What do you want everyone to know about safety?
What everyone needs to know about safety is that it is everyone’s job. Being a part of a company means that your are apart of their safety program. Establishing a safety culture starts with the involvement of all employees!
What is your superpower?
I’ve always been a “people person.” And, being able to develop relationships from nothing is a major key to my success.
Everyone has something that they can relate to other people with. Finding that something is what I seem to be good at. Doing this builds a solid relationship that reciprocates respect and trust.
Help to Create an Engaged Culture Where Working Safely Becomes Habit
Are you doing everything you can to empower your employees and enhance their performance? While most companies say safety is a priority, over one third of employees feel that their employers prioritize productivity over safety.