Special Topics in Safety Management

Meet the Latest Cohort of Safety Standout Award Winners!

The EHS Daily Advisor Safety Standout Awards team is proud to announce our fourth round of winners! The awards have a simple yet important mission: To recognize companies and safety professionals who excel in making their workplaces safe. Read on to meet our latest award winners and runners-up, who will be recognized at the upcoming Safety Culture 2019 event.

Safety Standout Awards

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These awards are sponsored by SafeStart, the most successful safety training process in the world for developing personal, 24/7 safety skills, proven to reduce injuries by 50% on average. SafeStart has trained over 3 million people at more than 3,000 companies and 10,000 sites in over 60 countries and is available in 32 languages.

Join us in celebrating these safety-focused organizations when they accept their awards at a ceremony during Safety Culture 2019, taking place September 18–20 in Denver, Colorado!

Best Overall Safety Culture Award: Trihydro Corporation

TrihydroTrihydro is an engineering and environmental consulting company based in Laramie, Wyoming, employing nearly 500 workers in 22 offices with staff resources located throughout the United States. Specific service categories provided by Trihydro include air quality and process management; engineering and surveying; environmental compliance and remediation; information technology; and water/wastewater consulting.

The EHS Daily Advisor Editorial Board was very impressed with Trihydro’s commitment to building a solid companywide safety culture. The organization’s application emphasized its focus on ethics, safety, hard work, responsiveness, and respect, principles that enable them to achieve success through their employees’ talent, responsiveness, innovation, and commitment to safety. Trihydro has adopted the motto “Our Safety Is My Responsibility” among its workforce, highlighting the company’s effort to collectively work together to help every employee get home safely every night and return healthy to work every day.

From effectively implementing stop work authority across the organization to positively reinforcing desired safety behaviors through recognition and reward, Trihydro’s safety culture is truly exceptional. As their application states:

Our overall goal is to have our safety culture begin as employees are hired and become part of our Trihydro family, and have the safety culture become even stronger the longer people are with us. In this way, we create safety leaders throughout all levels of our organization, from senior management all the way to those who are in the field and on the front lines of safety. When at its best, our safety culture extends beyond the workday and into the everyday lives of our employees and into the communities where we work, live, and play.

Through comprehensive use of metrics, strong ownership of safety among frontline supervisors and employees, and the integration of safety into the entire organization’s goals, values, and mission, Trihydro has demonstrated they foster a truly award-winning safety culture. Congratulations!

Accepting the award for Trihydro are Brian Pelan and George Mathes.

Brian PelanBrian Pelan serves as Trihydro’s Operational and Service Excellence Programs Director. He holds a B.S. in environmental science from Slippery Rock University (Slippery Rock, PA). Brian leads the planning and oversight of Trihydro’s health and safety programs and quality-management system. In this role, he evaluates program effectiveness to continuously improve safety and quality across internal programs, client programs, and projects.
George MathesGeorge Mathes, P.E., is a professional engineer registered in 12 states and holds a B.S. in civil engineering and an M.S. in environmental engineering, both from the University of Wyoming. He has been with Trihydro Corporation for over 20 years and has helped the Company grow from fewer than 50 employees to nearly 500. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and is Chairman of Trihydro’s Board of Directors. He is deeply committed to Trihydro’s mission to empower employees, serve clients, and give back to the communities where we work, live, and play.

Best Safety Committee: Elzinga & Volkers, Inc.

Elzinga & Volkers

Elzinga & Volkers is a locally owned and operated Michigan corporation with its headquarters located in Holland. Established in 1945, the organization is a general contractor and construction manager that specializes in the construction of senior living, industrial, healthcare, nonprofit, and faith-based facilities. Offering a wide variety of construction services, Elzinga & Volkers has eight self-performed trade divisions—carpentry, firestopping, concrete, sitework, steel, interiors, painting, and demolition.

The Editorial Board saw a superlative safety committee at this organization. The committee, currently comprised of 14 members representing every level of the company, is made up of volunteers who have a passion for safety and a desire to inspire others to share that passion. The committee’s success in promoting safe behaviors is reflected in Elzinga & Volkers recently-achieved milestone of 12 years without a lost time incident.

From recording very thorough committee meeting minutes to creating engaging safety communications, Elzinga & Volkers’ safety committee exemplifies a team commitment to constant awareness of safety in the workplace. The organization outlined the goals of their committee in their application:

The primary duties of the safety committee are to 1) Set corporate policy and safety standards over and above what is required by OSHA; 2) Help achieve annual safety goals and review and improve them; 3) Work with fellow team members to identify good catches (near misses) and determine the best way to communicate them to the group at large to ensure actions are not repeated; and 4) Review all inspection reports.

The Safety Committee Commitment Statement reads, “We commit to Lead from the Heart to achieve a World Class Safety Culture that will send every employee home safely—every day.” It is the job of the committee to live it, breath it, encourage it, and enforce it.

Accepting the award for Elzinga & Volkers is Scott Wondergem.

Scott WondergemScott Wondergem is a Senior Field Manager, member of the Field Leadership Team, and Assistant Safety Director for Elzinga & Volkers. As the Assistant Safety Director, Scott is part of the Safety Committee and the planning committee for Elzinga & Volkers’ Alive 365 Safety Week program. For the safety committee, he takes an active role in planning and scheduling the topics presented each month at companywide safety meetings. He performs site visits, reviews photos and videos for compliance and enforces safe working practices. As a member of the planning committee for Safety Week, Scott helps to schedule trainings and presenters and reaches out personally to invite trade contractors to attend. Externally, Scott is also a member of the ABC Western Michigan Safety Committee and the ABC Michigan Safety Committee.


Exceptional Progress Award: Creative Millwork of Ohio

Creative MillworkCreative Millwork of Ohio provides innovative, high-quality grille products to the North American and International Fenestration Market. Manufacturing window and door grilles as well as an array of supporting products, the company’s continuing goal is to be the market leader in product development and support of standard and custom grille products, providing timely solutions to customer needs. A few years ago, however, they struggled on the safety front.

In his application, Roger Stauffer from Creative Millwork described the situation:

I was hired 3 years ago as a Quality Manager for Creative Millwork, and in the second month was asked to also manage environment, health, and safety. Our injury rate was well above the industry norm and we had little to no structure to encourage employee involvement, let alone anything resembling a safety program.

During the next monthly plant meeting I informed everyone of our current status: TRIR, 300 log , overall safety status, etc. [I related this] to the national average S.I.C. code and the need to create a culture change. “I can’t do this alone,” I said—and asked for volunteers to participate in our first every Safety Committee.

Roger went on to explain that the first step was to train the committee members on the goals and expectations, followed by a strategy plan to obtain these goals. Participants were also willing to complete a six-sigma yellow belt course as well as implement a wide variety of other improvement tools.

The efforts paid off—in their application, Creative Millwork revealed that they have just celebrated their one-year anniversary without a lost-time incident. Medical treatment incidents have dropped 98%, and first aid incidents dropped 77%.

Through careful tracking of metrics, taking appropriate actions, and effective communication of both areas for improvement and successes to celebrate, Creative Millwork has truly demonstrated exceptional progress in improving their safety program!

Accepting the award for Creative Millwork is Roger Stauffer.

Roger StaufferRoger Stauffer has been the EHSQ Manager at Creative Millwork of Ohio for the past 3 years. Roger is also the Vice President of the Board of Trustees for the Ashtabula County Safety Council, holds a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma from Villanova University, and is a Certified Quality Management Systems Auditor through RABQSA International. He’s that odd guy who kept his first car, enjoys working on it, and then will play chess late into the weekend.

Moving Beyond Compliance Award: Chugach Industries Incorporated (CII)

ChugachChugach Industries Incorporated (CII) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chugach Alaska Corporation, an Alaskan Native company that is committed to supporting their people and heritage. CII is the Base Operations Contractor for Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, and it is this division that is being recognized with this award. Chugach’s work at Picatinny Arsenal encompasses a myriad of operations across the 6,500 acre military installation, including public works activities; logistics activities; IT/cyber activities; planning/estimating for new work; construction and construction management on minor and major projects; and procurement of materials and services for work performed throughout the installation.

It was clear from the very beginning of their application that Chugach went above and beyond mere compliance within their safety culture.

Value and respect for all living things is built into our core values (behaviors) and our safety culture. As a company, we are devoted to creating a safe and healthy workplace for everyone. CII employees are dedicated to five core behaviors that guide everything we do:

  1. We do things the right way

  2. We create meaningful value

  3. We empower our people

  4. We build community

  5. We leave things better than we found them

Chugach went on to describe how their safety program is fundamentally based on human factors and behaviors, and the organization examines the root causes of unsafe behaviors—and the possible failures in management that might permit them. The organization understands that risky behaviors often occur intuitively, they respond to this by going beyond the traditional safety management approach in order maintain a safe environment.

Through their commitment to a better understanding of motivational factors and their impact on decision making, Chugach has built a safety culture that moves far beyond the minimum requirements of safety compliance.

Accepting the award for Chugach is Thomas Hawthorne.

Thomas HawthorneThomas Hawthorne is the Safety Manager at Chugach Industries Incorporated (CII) at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey where he has worked for over 11 years. His primary focus is workplace safety, and he strongly advocates safety as a team effort by empowering the employees to go beyond compliance and stimulate a positive safety culture. Tom has worked in the hazardous waste management field with an extensive background in environmental science and environmental program management, has administered company medical emergency response teams, and has successfully managed numerous emergency response scenarios/actions. With over 30 years of dedicated service within the environmental and safety fields, he has encountered and strategically navigated some of the most dangerous emergency situations. Tom fervently believes employee safety is his number one priority.


We would also like to congratulate our runners-up in all categories for our latest round of Safety Standout Awards:

Best Overall Safety Culture

Lockheed Martin, Missiles and Fire Control – Archbald

Hooper Corporation, Electrical Power Division


Best Safety Committee

City of Lancaster, California


Exceptional Progress

Baker Electric, Inc.


Moving Beyond Compliance

Dynamic Energy Services International, LLC (DYNESI)


Please join us in congratulating all of our Safety Standout Award winners and runners-up on their well-deserved recognition as leaders in the safety field!

There’s still time to register for Safety Culture 2019 to help us celebrate the accomplishments of these organizations in person. Register today—time is running out!

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