Photo courtesy of CJ Drilling
Cjd 2

America's Safest Companies 2021: CJ Drilling

Oct. 19, 2021
To say management at CJ Drilling is committed to safety might be an understatement.

CJ Drilling, Inc.
Dundee, Ill.
125 employees | 4 sites | 4 EHS professionals

To say management at CJ Drilling is committed to safety might be an understatement.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, President and Owner/Operator Tammie Johnson donated all the company’s N95 masks to a local hospital that was unable to attain any. CJ Drilling quickly procured more personal protection equipment inventory to help keep workers safe. The company also built and deployed portable hand washing stations and eliminated the practice of multiple employees traveling in the same vehicle, a decision that required additional resources.

Over the years, CJ Drilling has turned down work because of unsafe working conditions. Once, an operator and foreman walked away from a jobsite because of a grave safety concern. When Johnson learned about the incident, she self-terminated the contract.

“We know our specialty work, and we know what we need to complete it safely without injuring anyone or causing unnecessary damage,” says Marty Mohr, director of safety and risk management. “Our employees are the most important asset to the company, and there is no job or task that cannot be done safely.”

That attitude has helped CJ Drilling, a contractor in the electrical transmission and distribution industry, amass an impressive array of safety awards in the past decade, including being named one of America’s Safest Companies in 2015.

Fifty-six percent of employees have taken OSHA’s 10-hour construction course. Each new or newly promoted supervisor is required to attend a training that includes OSHA’s 30-hour construction course, for which the company boasts a completion rate of 20%.

To be considered for an America's Safest Companies award, organizations must demonstrate excellence in several areas: support from leadership and management for EHS efforts; employee involvement in the EHS process; innovative solutions to safety challenges; injury and illness rates lower than the average for their industries; comprehensive training programs; evidence that prevention of incidents is the cornerstone of the safety process; good communication about the value of safety; and a way to substantiate the benefits of the safety process. 

The 2021 ASC awards will be presented during a ceremony at EHS Today’s Safety Leadership Conference 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio. For a detailed look at this year's program and to register, go to for all the details.

But still, Mohr explains that wasn’t enough training for CJ Drilling. OSHA provides limited examples to define safe work practices specific to CJ Drilling’s core tasks, drilling deep shaft foundations, so the company developed its own on-site training facility for drill rig operators. That includes a safe drilled shaft excavation set up to address OSHA’s Focus Four Hazards: falls, struck by, caught by/between and electrocution.

CJ Drilling also established an underground damage prevention permit as a hold point before beginning an excavation. The permit allows the employee completing the work to compare physical site conditions to the dig ticket information in the local 811 system to identify any lapses. Employees have, on several occasions, found indicators of an underground utility that had not been marked.

Moreover, employees visit a jobsite at least one week prior to beginning work to ensure there are no hidden safety traps that may not be disclosed in the contract documents, such as low hanging power lines or obstructed sites.

Employees begin each workday with a daily task analysis meeting where tasks are defined, hazards are identified and safe practices are discussed. CJ Drilling also created a Good Catch Program to reward employees for discovering and correcting hazards before an incident occurs.

“Without these proactive elements, we would certainly never realize the rewards in our lagging indicators,” Mohr says.  

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