This is the next installment of a new safety series, where we talk one-on-one with safety leadership across the Company about their roles, what safety means to them and how we can all live and work more safely.
We talked to Guy Hargrove, senior safety manager, to find out more about what led him to a career in safety and why being proactive with safety is important to everyone.
How did you get into the field of safety?
I began my career as a full-time firefighter for a major city. I also worked as a paramedic, a search and rescue team member, on the hazmat team, and also the high angle rescue team. When I completed that part of my career, I didn't know anything else other than being a public servant, so I wanted to continue working to help others. I have currently been at Mohawk for six and a half years now.
How can everyone make safety a priority in their role?
Safety is not a special entity or word – it is the product of creating a safe environment and having a commitment to sustain a safe environment at every level of the organization. If you have the commitment at all levels to create a safe, hazard free environment, then a safe workplace is the end product and therefore has become a core value.
This month's safety topics are heat stress and safe lifting. What makes these topics so important?
In manufacturing, many of our facilities aren't climate controlled, which means it's important to understand the signs of heat exhaustion and have self-awareness of how your body reacts to the heat. Education is key, like knowing that if you had been sweating and then stop, that's one of the signs of possible heat stroke. What you drink – things like energy drinks, caffeine or alcohol the night before, they can seriously dehydrate you and impact you for the rest of the day.
And when it comes to lifting, we all know we don't work in a place where we're lifting lightweight boxes. Every day we interact with heavy materials and products, and proper lifting is more important than a lot of people may realize. Improper lifting can severely hurt your back, to the point that you'd no longer be able to work. A back injury could be a life changing event that could not just affect your job, but keep you from doing things like playing ball with your kids at home.
Why do you work safely?
In my 20 years as a firefighter, I saw a lot of tragic things, accidents where people were seriously hurt or killed. Seeing scenes like that stays with you and no one can really understand unless they've been in that situation. It made me want to do everything I can to help teach and keep people safe, not just because there are rules and procedures to follow, but because I don't want other people to have to experience the tragedies I've seen others experience.