My Story: Michael G. Berno, SHEP, CSHO, CAE, FSR
My story of how I got into safety is somewhat by accident, or “I fell into it,” as many of my colleagues have said.
I obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in employee wellness/exercise physiology, with a minor in journalism, from Southwest Texas State University. I always wanted to help get and keep everyone healthy. My second position out of school was as the wellness director for a fiberglass plant with 1,700-plus employees. My second year there, they decided that because my programs, trainings and health education classes were well-received, they would get me training to deliver safety training classes. Little did I know …
I moved to Houston in 1993 and started my own fitness training company. A good friend suggested that I branch into safety because everyone is required to have a safety program. So, I purchased the old printed OSHA Code of Federal Regulations, put together my own safety manual template and went out selling safety. I did this until February 2000, with my last project being to establish a safety program for a nationwide printing company. As this project wrapped up, I accepted an offer from a large professional employer organization to be its safety and risk director.
With a PEO, all your clients are on your workers’ compensation policy. I provided all safety services for mainly construction, energy, oil and gas, and manufacturing clients. After three years, I moved onto providing underwriting, safety surveys and employee trainings at a new company to large clients in construction, energy, oil and gas, USL&H – longshore, manufacturing, health care and more.
In December 2011, I landed at my current employer as the director of safety and risk services. As we are an agency, I get to do much more hands-on work with our clients in developing safety cultures, providing extensive employee safety training and written programs, and really getting to know our clients.
I greatly enjoy working with different clients in many industries, helping them make sure everyone goes home safely every day.
I have gone from my early career passion of getting and keeping people healthy to now making sure that everyone, everywhere goes home in the same or better condition than they arrived at work. Making sure they understand the “why” of safety, not just the “rules.” My early career and current career have melded together perfectly with what is now called Total Worker Health. My unintentional career change into safety turned out to be a blessing as far as I am concerned.
Michael G. Berno, SHEP, CSHO, CAE, FSR
Director of Safety and Risk Services