My Story: Dominic Pope, CHST
I’ve always been outspoken about safety and never been afraid to report or address concerns. Growing up, I operated farm equipment, drove trucks and worked in the construction industry. As I gained experience, I began to have an increasing interest in the safety and health profession.
From 2005 to 2011, I worked for a large contractor moving heavy equipment. I wanted to be part of a positive safety culture, so I jumped at a chance to join the company’s safety committee. During a meeting one day, I reported some safety issues that had been bothering me. I left the meeting feeling good about my decision to speak up, but soon after, the human resources department, along with a vice president from a sister company, turned against me. Even though I knew I had absolutely done the right thing by voicing my safety concerns, it resulted in my termination.
I felt frustrated and let down. My honesty, dedication and loyalty to this company abruptly ended with a crushing job loss because of my stance that keeping people safe is always the right thing to do. At the time, I didn’t know about OSHA’s retaliation program laws and guidelines put in place per the OSH Act. Even as I remained disappointed by the whole experience, my supportive wife never gave up, telling me many times: “Things happen for a reason.” Instinctively, I knew I wanted to follow a path where I could make a difference in people’s lives by standing up for what I believe, vowing I would help prevent this from happening to someone else. I wanted to give people courage to have their voice heard and protect them from the same consequences I had endured.
Shortly after, a friend who owned a safety consulting business offered me a position as a field safety technician. I quickly accepted. For almost two years, I worked as a consultant in various trades doing daily inspections. I was eager to advance and kept pushing forward, believing in myself and my qualifications while continuing to search for a top-level, dream safety job.
In 2013, a past underground utility client offered me a full-time position as safety manager for both their Maryland and North Carolina locations. Still cautious from my previous challenges, I suddenly realized I felt hesitant. Even though this was what I’d worked so hard to achieve, I began to second-guess myself. I decided to reach out to a safety professional I highly respected. After telling her everything, she said reassuringly: “Dominic, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. You may not realize it, but you can do it. I know you can.” It was at that moment I decided to be the best safety director I could.
When I started, I found myself building a safety program from the ground up. I am now the safety director for both divisions. I strongly believe that if you build a positive safety atmosphere and make it fun, it will pay you back tenfold. I’m impassioned to teach people how to work safely and create a successful safety culture, one where everyone feels comfortable discussing concerns and employees want to come in every day committed to a safe workplace. One of the best unforeseen rewards of my job is when employees who I’ve trained end up teaching me more than I could ever learn in a classroom. I always positively reinforce my belief that anything is possible if you set your mind to accomplishing it. After all, my resolve to do the right thing is what got me here.
Dominic Pope, CHST