Faces of EHS

Faces of EHS: Orrin Tyrel Mitchell on Workplace Pride

Some people love their jobs, many hate them. Orrin Tyrel Mitchell is one of the former. He is grateful for the opportunities afforded him and lessons learned at his workplace, and he is filled with pride and passion for safety.

Mitchell serves as the director of safety at Texas-based Modular Power Solutions (MPS). As its name suggests, MPS provides large-scale modular power systems to help keep businesses online. The company was founded in 2011 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosendin Holdings Inc., one of the largest privately owned electrical contractors in the United States.

MPS operates facilities in Sherman and Lewisville, Texas, with a new site underway in McKinney. Mitchell joined MPS/Rosendin eight years ago before moving his way up the company ladder. In his current role, he manages the overall safety program and compliance for MPS and its nearly 300 employees.

To learn more about Mitchell and his take on industry issues, please read the Faces of EHS interview below:

Q: How did you get your start in the field?

When MPS started, we had very few employees and did not have a safety representative in place. I was working in the field setting gear, pulling wire, and doing terminations. As we began to grow, leadership wanted to build a dedicated safety program and culture. Someone noticed my passion, hard work, and experience and wanted to cultivate and grow that potential, so they asked me to oversee the safety aspect full time. That opportunity gave me the chance to grow into the professional I am today.

Q. Who has been your biggest influence in the industry?

It would have to be the safety leadership within Rosendin, such as Marty Rouse, Shayne Stevens, Josh Johnson, Anthony Ordonez, Ben Anderson, and now Scott Risch. These individuals have played an integral part in building me into the professional I am today. I can honestly say that I have never had the support anywhere else like I do here. These people have listened to me and my team and are just a phone call away to lend a helping hand, impart knowledge, and answer any questions. I have stated this in the past and still to this day, but the support they give and knowledge they bring is nothing short of amazing.

Q: What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?

Honestly, I would frame it as my biggest challenge. If you were to ask anyone, they would tell you that I am extremely passionate about what I do here. Sometimes that passion can come out strong and I need to channel it into being more constructive and positive. I just want others to see the necessity of doing things the right way, the safe way, and how to benefit from it.

Q: What are some of the biggest EHS issues at your organization?

It’s our growth. MPS is growing at an expedited rate and with that brings issues in workforce and ensuring that, up front, we are ready for it. Not only in a production sense, but also ensuring that we are investing in the culture we have built at our previous locations and spreading it to new ones. That requires proper training, efficient supervision, safety knowledge, and ensuring that everyone has self-accountability as individuals and is still looking out for one another.

Q: What’s your favorite and least favorite part about working in the industry? Would you change anything?

My favorite thing is celebrating achievements with employees and helping them understand they are the most vital part of our success.

My least favorite thing is the difficult conversations that must be had from time to time. Just like in any company, there are some people who have less self-accountability, and that requires difficult conversations to help coach/mentor the individual. But with that comes great satisfaction when you see that individual buying into what you just taught.

Q: What are your thoughts on safety culture? How can company leaders make safety a value within their organization?

A positive safety culture must be genuine. People must believe and trust in what you are saying. From top to bottom, you must send a good message that relates to what is being asked of them and you must always lead by example, while encouraging open and honest conversation and receiving feedback that is vital to everyone’s success.

We believe safety is a value, and that requires leadership to be engaged with employees and be the example. They must send the same positive message to everyone. They must also be willing to make decisions that reflect what is in the best interest of everyone’s safety and health.

Q: What safety concerns or issues do you think need more prioritization in EHS programs?

I would say due to the accelerated growth not only in our company but in our industry itself, there is a need for an increased workforce, which tends to lead to more inexperienced workers. It is paramount that we invest in onboarding processes, training, and mentorship more than ever to ensure we are doing our best to impart the skills and knowledge to ensure not only our employees’ safety and health, but also their success.

Q: How will new safety technologies influence the work being done by EHS professionals?

We are right in the middle of the birth of a new era for safety recording and personnel protection. For example, PPE that can read vitals and give us advanced notice of health issues and the ability to act quickly. The continued innovation of AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) will allow us to gather large forms of data and analyze it in real time to identify trends and patterns. With these readings, safety professionals can be proactive to prevent accidents before they occur.

Q: What are you most proud of?

I am so proud to see the growth in the safety program and culture from what it was when I first took this position, but also the opportunity to mold it into what it is today. Rosendin and MPS gave me the knowledge and challenged me to build this. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Q: Do you have any advice for people entering the EHS profession?

Be confident and passionate about what we do. Do not be afraid to ask questions, and if you do not have the answer, be willing to do whatever it takes to get the right answer. Someone’s life may depend on it. That may sound extreme, but we must be influenced by what is best for the safety and health of our employees, and that must be paramount.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to reiterate that I am truly blessed to be given this opportunity to work for a company that is willing to provide a great deal of knowledge and support. I would also like to ensure that everyone who works for Rosendin/MPS knows, you are the reason for our success and are the backbone to what we achieve.

Are you or a colleague an EHS professional interested in being profiled for the Faces of EHS series? Please contact Joe Bebon at JBebon@BLR.com.

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