10 QUESTIONS FOR SAFETY ADVOCATE JAIME FLORES
1 — How did you get interested in safety?
I have been working for Municipal Courts Department (MCD) for almost 29 years. The first five years I worked with the engineers, and I would get calls from employees having safety issues. (Have broken chairs, wires under their desks and furniture not working correctly). After learning all the court satellite locations and helping with all safety concerns, I became very interested in the safety field. Once I became a supervisor, I was assigned to be the safety coordinator for MCD. I have very close relations with the General Services Department (GSD) and TDI (TD Industries, a primary contractor for GSD), as they assist me in dealing with lots of safety issues that may arise. The employees at Municipal Courts are very helpful, informing me of any safety concerns they may have. What has been very helpful is sending out the monthly safety inspection checklist. Managers and supervisors are rapidly informed if they have issues in their sections, and I try to get them corrected ASAP.
2 — What is your background in safety?
I’ve been working in safety for the last 24 years, at least. I will have worked for the City of Houston for 29 years on May 24, 2022. I represent MCD on the Citywide Safety Committee. In other duties, I coordinate maintenance between MCD, GSD and TDI. I also notify Human Resources when we have workers’ compensation issues.
3 — How do you observe safety issues at work? Is it just a general awareness, or do you have a checklist of things to watch for?
We do monthly safety inspections that I send out to managers and supervisors, asking for issues related to the building in general and safety in particular.
4 — You have a reputation for being proactive. How did you develop your sense of watchfulness?
Being with MCD for so many years, I’ve come to know what kind of issues we face and how we’ve dealt with them in the past. What worked and what didn’t work.
5 — Are you able to involve colleagues in your department/division?Yes, if we have something big, I notify our Assistant Director and Director. We also provide health and safety topics about once a month.
6 — Do you have a safety committee? If yes, what is your involvement in it?
Yes, we do. I spearhead it. We’ve had some folks on the committee for several years, others are either gone (retired) or we replace them as soon as possible. We meet quarterly a year. Lester, our Safety Advisor, is also involved.
7 — Can you track your safety accomplishments and progress?
We do it through the safety inspection. We identify safety issues from the checklists, and we usually get what we need, but sometimes budget constraints get in the way.
8 — Are you able to employ the strategy behind the ZIP program to help your workplace safety?
ZIP is a priority. We were early adopters in MCD, coming in the second phase.
9 — Can you list specific examples of improvements in workplace safety?
Not too long ago, we had an employee over at 611 Walker who had too many cables and wiring all over the place. We had HITS come down and “tame” the situation.
10 — Are you optimistic that your and your colleagues’ efforts are working?
Yes, we would be having many more accidents without a focus on safety. Thanks to the safety inspection and the ZIP program, we’re getting better all the time.