News • July 27, 2022
Five Questions with Mike Alamillo, South Texas HSE Supervisor
As HSE Supervisor, Mike Alamillo manages Chesapeake’s safety and environmental performance throughout our South Texas operations.
You have an experienced resume of safety-related roles. What drew you to this line of work?
My career in safety started in the Marine Corps when I was promoted to corporal with a focus on safety and HAZMAT protection. It’s where I learned the importance of doing things the right way and with integrity, because if you don’t, there can be really negative consequences.
After my military service, I was able to transition into a civilian job as a safety professional in the petroleum industry. My first job was particularly overwhelming because of the number of rules and regulations I had to learn. But once I learned them, I made it my job to make them digestible for other people.
Joining Chesapeake last year was a way to further my career, close to home. I had been asked by a prior employer to move, but my wife manages a local business and it was in the best interest of my family to stay here (in Laredo, Texas). A friend and former colleague recommended me for the HSE Supervisor role and I had a series of interviews with Chesapeake employees who impressed me. It’s been full throttle since day one as we’re working to enhance our South Texas safety program.
How do you describe the safety culture at Chesapeake? How does your role reinforce this?
I would say that doing the right thing is an absolute at Chesapeake. The South Texas field teams don’t take shortcuts and they don’t want anyone to get hurt, but sometimes they need help interpreting standards and procedures. That’s where I come in. I’m the keeper of the rules and regulations, working with our field employees to help make sure they’re understood and incorporated correctly.
It’s also important to me that everyone, including our contractors, feel like we’re one team. For me, it’s not just “do what I say” — I truly care about the safety of everyone on our sites. I’m always working to build trust and confidence with the field team and my HSE team because those bonds, more than anything else, will make the biggest difference in safety performance.
Safety metrics are key components of our employee compensation program this year. What can employees do to help us reach our safety goals?
Safety has to be personal, and you have to own it. Key to this ownership is identifying what motivates you to be safe and then sharing those motivations for extra accountability. When I’m talking to our team, I check in with them because I want to hear about their lives — their kids, their hobbies and what they do when they’re not at work. Because ultimately, that’s what is going to motivate them to make safe choices.
I’m always encouraging supervisors to have similar conversations with their teams. Our employees need to understand that we genuinely care about them and their safety. Achieving safety goals and getting a financial bonus is great, but the real bonus is each of our employees and contractors going home safe every night.
The summer months are some of the most dangerous, particularly for unintentional injuries. What advice do you have for employees to increase their safety awareness this summer?
Working in South Texas, summer brings new safety concerns that we must help employees navigate. I think this starts with information sharing until safety awareness becomes second nature. For example, every week, we send out temperature updates and heat-related safety tips to help our employees be weather alert.
I also encourage employees to give themselves extra time to recover from long shifts or after vacation to help ensure they’re fit for work. Employees should listen to their bodies and also check in with each other to both recognize hazards and identify any personal safety concerns.
You also supervise environmental conditions on our sites. Why is reducing our environmental footprint so critical to how we operate?
Growing up in South Texas, I recognize that the land we operate on is not our land. Our neighbors are allowing us to do work on their properties and we must protect the land and the living things on it. To harm the environment in any way, harms the livelihood of our communities — the same communities where we live with our families.
“It’s also important to me that everyone, including our contractors, feel like we’re one team. For me, it’s not just “do what I say” — I truly care about the safety of everyone on our sites. I’m always working to build trust and confidence with the field team and my HSE team because those bonds, more than anything else, will make the biggest difference in safety performance,” said Mike Alamillo.