Andrew Everding, safety coordinator for Thomas Industrial Coatings, takes questions on his day-to-day, the job-site safety culture at Thomas and the famous “Safety Truck.”

Andrew Everding, safety coordinator for Thomas Industrial Coatings, takes questions on his day-to-day, the job-site safety culture at Thomas and the famous “Safety Truck.”

What is your position with Thomas Industrial Coatings?

My official title, what’s on my business card, is Safety Coordinator.

How long have you held the position?

I’ve been here a little over a year.

What does an average day for you entail?

Everyone has office work, but a lot of the time, if I’m around St. Louis, I’ll bounce around to three or four different job-sites. I’ll set up a trip to Kansas City to visit some job-sites up there, or we have some in Milwaukee that I’ll visit to do inspections and see how everyone’s doing.

If it’s a bigger job-site, I may spend a few days there. If it’s a smaller one, it may be an hour inspection and then on to the next one.

When you say “inspection,” what does that normally entail?

It’s based on what our guys are doing. If our guys are wearing fall protection, are they using it correctly? That’s a main one. If they’re spraying, I’m making sure they’re wearing respirators or blast hoods.

Sometimes I go through trailers and make sure all the equipment is in working order. I’ll make sure there are no rips or tears in fall protection and things like that.

If it can malfunction, you’re checking to make sure it won’t?

That’s right, checking electrical equipment or if they’re blasting I’ll check out the C0 monitor. I’m pretty good at fixing those now.

You have a degree in safety management, correct?

Yes. I graduated from Central Missouri State with a degree in safety management.

Is it common for most companies to have a safety specialist on site?

Any company doing as much business as we are should have someone on site, but it depends on the values of the company. If someone really cares about it, they’re going to invest the money in it, because it actually saves money in the long run.

Is it true that anyone at Thomas can stop a job if they feel safety is an isssue?

Yes. Any employee can, from a first-year apprentice up to Don Thomas. If you don’t feel safe, anyone can stop a job. They can call me and ask questions. It’s about fixing a problem before it gets to a bad point.

Is that a common practice?

I think it’s very unique that anyone can say, “No, I’m not going to do this because I don’t feel safe,” and there will be no repercussions. We hope that our culture is not one where anyone’s job feels threatened.

What’s the “Safety Truck?”

Well I got a new truck when I came back from New Orleans. We joked down there that I would get my own trailer and tow it around the country. Now I have a brand new truck with a retractable cover on the bed.

I have any kind of fall protection you could need, extra respirators, all kinds of safety equipment. So if you come up to a job-site and see a potential problem, and the guy doesn’t have the piece of equipment to fix it, I keep my truck pretty stocked so you don’t have to shut down the job.

Are there other aspects of safety that you think are unique to Thomas?

The main one is, if we think we need something, we get the go ahead to go and get it. Like the new respirator fit test, which I’m using now, it costs a large sum of money but in the long run it’s going to save money because we can fit test new people in house.

It comes from the top down. Upper management really believes in it.

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