2020 NAWIC Safety Advocate of the Year - Desiree Ropel

Sep 16, 2020 | Source: Hermanson Marketing | Company News

At Hermanson, we talk about safety being an “attitude for life.”  And every employee from our fabrication shops, field crews, job trailers, and office staff benefits from the leadership and experience of Hermanson’s Safety Manager, Desiree Ropel.

Ropel--Desiree.jpgNamed NAWIC’s 2020 Safety Advocate of the Year, Desiree brings over nine years of industry experience along with the knowledge and discipline she acquired in the US Navy to her role.  Desiree is responsible for the safety training and the ongoing implementation of best practices for up to 700 employees at projects spanning across Washington and Oregon.  She is particularly skilled in coordinating and managing construction safety efforts within occupied and new construction jobsites in urban locations and has worked to reduce Hermanson’s EMR over the last 4 years through a series of innovative safety programs.

Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, Desiree and her team have taken on the added responsibility of ensuring all jobsites and satellite offices are meeting both state and client mandated COVID compliance measures.  Desiree personally conducts weekly jobsite Safety Audits and notes her observations, both positive and negative, with field staff to encourage their own heightened recognition of jobsite conditions.  

Desiree manages a Safety team of seven individuals who are responsible for implementing the safety programs that have helped improve Hermanson’s safety culture. She has implemented a program of Root Cause Analysis that brings together field and office staff to review Near Misses, Accidents and Recordables.  This Analysis is published company wide and is instrumental in instituting effective practices that improve jobsite safety including replacing all jobsite A-frame ladders with platform ladders and the introduction of Kevlar sleeves for both demolition and installation operations.

Additionally, Desiree has been responsible for researching, training and implementing the following innovations:

  • Implementing an LMS (Learning Management System) that will track all certifications, trainings and expiration dates. The program will send alerts to the Safety Team and job Foreman when employee certifications are out of compliance. This system has streamlined and automated the herculean task of tracking and ensuring that training certifications are up to date.
  • Introduction of On-Site Health & Safety (OSHS) to provide immediate response to jobsite safety event assessment, reporting, and – if appropriate – first-aid treatment by EMT-level technicians on-site.  Implementation of this program has resulted in quicker response times, a reduction in hours spent off-site to seek medical attention at a clinic and provides specialized treatment from technicians specifically trained in the treatment of occupational injuries.
  • Expansion of Hermanson’s Safety Team to include a top-down approach to safety awareness.  Through Desiree’s modeling EVERY Hermanson meeting (from the Executive Team to Foreman’s Toolbox Talks) start with a Safety Moment.  Desiree believes that creating a culture of safety begins at the executive level and is not solely the responsibility of jobsite Superintendents or Foreman.  To this end, Desiree gathers a team of executives, general superintendents, and safety staff to do quarterly jobsite safety walks.  These walks are intended to accentuate the positive and reward jobsite personnel for exemplary safety practices.   

As a veteran, Desiree supports hiring veterans and partners with Orion Industries to screen and train candidates.  Her commitment to ensuring employment success for veterans continues well after their hire date, with continued training and ongoing professional development.

Desiree’s leadership, innovation, and attention to detail has an exponential impact to everyone working at a Hermanson’s jobsite or visiting a Hermanson office.  We feel fortunate to have her on our team and consider her to be Hermanson’s perennial Safety Advocate of the Year.