Safety is a critical component of the work we do in the plumbing and mechanical contracting industry. Whether it’s Safety Week or Safety Month, there’s value in sharing the importance of safety with membership year-round.
Larry Verne, Sr., president of Verne’s Plumbing, has served on the MCAA national safety committee for nearly a decade.
We connected with Larry to explore why safety is such an important aspect of our industry, no matter what time of year.
Q&A with Larry Verne, Sr.
Tell me about the importance of safety in our industry.
Years ago I was in a safety training meeting and one of the instructors kept saying contractors always try and do the minimum in regards to safety. I raised my hand and I said that opinion is disrespectful to contractors. I really resented those remarks. I said I know that not every contractor is in it for the minimum, and I don’t want anybody to think that my company’s in it for the minimum. Each and every employee of ours is valued. When they get off work at the end of the day, I want them to come home safe, sound and in one piece. Our employee’s safety is not just a number; they are not just not a tool. They’re human beings and they deserve our best, not our minimum. When I said that, there was a shockwave that went around the room. When it comes to safety, I want others to know that my employees’ safety matters to me. Each and every single one of them.
Why do you serve on the safety committee?
Because people matter. Every single one of my employees is special. They’re human. They have a family. They’re not a tool. They matter. It was nearly a decade ago when I was at a CPMCA meeting and Chip said there was a need for some of our members to volunteer to sit on committees for MCAA. I wanted to be on the safety committee because of my culture, philosophy, background and goals at Verne’s Plumbing.
How do you practice safety at Verne’s Plumbing?
Back in the day, I’m sure we did some stupid stuff. Running down into trenches. Tying sewer lines in without shoring. We didn’t really grasp the ramifications of what could have happened if we had an accident. But experiences over the years shocked us into reality. I learned at an MCAA seminar that distracted driving is an important safety component for businesses. I asked myself, why are we allowing people to use their phones while driving? We immediately adopted a new policy right after that seminar. We have a no cell phone policy in our company vehicles. In general, it’s important to practice safety daily. Also, networking with other CPMCA members can also be helpful. If we go on throughout business, and life, without sharing our experiences and our life’s lessons, we leave behind the generations that are coming up behind us. It’s important to pass along best practices in safety.
What tips do you have for other businesses in the industry?
Just be safe out there, and don’t get into a hurry. I was born in the 50s grew up in the 60s. Today, everything just keeps getting faster and faster and faster. People need to slow down and even stop and smell the flowers. A good example of this is our weekly staff meeting. We all put our phones down when we talk about stuff that’s going on in the business. Sometimes it can take a couple of hours, but it’s worth it to spend time together to focus on the team’s safety and the health of the business.
If your business celebrates safety in a unique way, please reach out to CPMCA at email@example.com to submit your safety stories!