Even the Smallest Pumping Business Needs a Safety Program

No matter the size of your septic service company, be sure to provide adequate training so your crew comes home safely at the end of every shift.

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There is no picture-perfect template for managing a safety program. Everything that makes your company unique provides a reason to develop a safety strategy to fit your team. There is one thing that’s true of every company: Someone needs to take charge.

Having a dedicated safety supervisor or manager is an option, but it’s not the only one. The responsibility of keeping up to date on safety protocols, training and monitoring safety practices can fall on multiple people already in place.

Jason Lohoff opened Master Rooter in 2019 and has been safely serving the Mesa, Arizona, area. Master Rooter currently employs around 45 people and, in Lohoff’s opinion, doesn’t require a full-time position handling the safety side of the business. He says that comes down to a couple people on his team.

“We sort of take a two-pronged approach to safety without having a designated person in a safety manager position,” Lohoff says. “We split the safety management position between two roles, really.”

For Master Rooter, the general manager handles a lot of the broad oversight and, beyond that position, the company has a field supervisor. The pair of employees put together a safety plan and disseminate the information to the crews as needed.


There are specific traits to look for within your staff when choosing the right people to oversee job site safety. Knowledge of Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements and general safety laws are an obvious must, but also seek people who are comfortable and get along with your staff — but not afraid to call out co-workers for wrongdoing.

Lohoff looks for particular traits and skills in a safety supervisor. “I am looking for people who are extremely detail-oriented. I want them to inspect every little thing. To go along with someone detail-oriented, I want someone that is process-driven because it should be part of their daily process when doing a job, big or small.”

Expecting your crew to know how to handle every situation and operate equipment safely without training is unrealistic. Have those in charge of safety schedule routine meetings and provide recurring training protocols.

“We have regularly scheduled technician meetings, typically once a week, and we handle different safety topics as part of that meeting,” Lohoff says. Topics can be chosen by focusing on jobs lined up for that week. Go through the job, what it’s going to entail and discuss the safety implications for that situation.


Lack of or improper training on new or existing equipment is almost asking for an accident. Lohoff also relies on the aptitude of his employees and management team to ensure everyone operating equipment and machinery has been appropriately taught.

“We certify them to our standards in-house before they are able to operate that machinery on their own. When we get a new piece of equipment, we have someone who is a designated expert on that equipment. They have either received manufacturer training or have previous experience,” Lohoff says. “From there, that individual will certify others in the company to make sure that they are operating the machinery in a proper manner.”

Safety meeting topics aren’t limited to equipment operation, but should include anything and everything workers may encounter on the job site. Don’t forget the easy topics that may be unique to your company, depending on its location. “We’ve got different challenges than maybe some other companies because of the region we serve,” Lohoff says. “For us it can be as simple as saying, ‘Hey everyone, make sure you’re bringing water to the job because energy drinks and Coke isn’t going to cut it when it’s 125 degrees in the sun.”

When the timing is right, it doesn’t hurt to remind employees how much an accident can hurt the company as a whole. “Sometimes we will break it down into the cost analysis side and we’ll explain that it costs so much more for someone to have an injury than when they’re being productive,” Lohoff says. “You need to balance when to share the business side of safety with your team and when to share just your complete empathetic side and express that you just really don’t want any of them hurt.”

The key is making safety routine and engrained in their everyday thoughts as tasks are being completed.


Talking about safety is one thing, but consistent execution is another. Whether you have a safety coordinator, multiple team members in charge of safety or it falls to you, it’s critical to ensure what’s taught in trainings is utilized on the job.

“Our field supervisor checks on every big project, every day, and we are able to field-verify that the strategies we have in place are truly being practiced and not just preached,” Lohoff says.

And though it’s not pleasant to think about, having a plan for if an incident occurs is crucial. “Handling situations is always a case-by-case basis,” Lohoff says. “It could as be simple as a retrain, or it could be as grave as a termination.” 

Whatever the case may be, use it as a training opportunity to show employees what went wrong and how it could have been avoided. “Make safety part of your daily culture,” Lohoff says. “Don’t make it overcomplicated and don’t make it a big scary monster. Sometimes it’s just a reminder to use common sense.”


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