Pat Thomas: Safety First, Every Day and Every Way


Pat Thomas, CSP, CHMM, CET, owner and president of Thomas Loss Control Enterprises, Argyle, TX, says her passion for safety started in her childhood.  

“I was raised in a small mining town, and all of my family worked in the mines,” she says. “For so many people in that town, that was their livelihood. All through my youth I saw the effects firsthand of industrial accidents and what they did to the individual and to the community. Many of the kids that I was going to school with had accidents happen with their parents and I saw what that did to a lot of families.”

The year Pat graduated from high school, her dad was in a very bad mining accident. He was buried under ore, but he did survive. Unfortunately, a man he was working with did not. 

“The only thing that saved my dad was the cage protection,” Pat recalls. “At that time, cage protection was not required by regulations but he worked for a safety-minded company that had overhead cage protection.” 

Seeing what her dad went through in his recovery and the horrors that losing his colleague created for him for the rest of his life solidified Pat’s desire to make safety her career. She left her hometown that fall for college at Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in business administration with a minor in marketing followed by a degree in safety and fire protection engineering technology. That passion for safety continued to drive her, knowing she wanted to help prevent a terrible accident in another person’s family. 

Her first job out of college was at Sandia National Laboratories, doing energy research and working on weapons systems. 

“One of the projects I was assigned at Sandia was to be part of a team that engineered, developed, tested, and got ready for production the Patriot missile,” Pat says. “That’s still in use today and so I’m kind of proud as it is being used to save our troops’ lives. I’m very, very happy that I was able to participate in that.” 

But that degree in business administration was purposeful, as Pat always knew she wanted to own her own business. 

“To do that, I knew that I needed to get enough safety background in a variety of industries so that once I started my consulting company, I would be a benefit to my clients,” Pat says. 


Thomas Loss Control Enterprises is Born 

Pat went after building that background experience before opening Thomas Loss Control Enterprises In 1997. She did an internship in a mining operation during college, high tech with Sandia, chemicals and refining, Lockheed Martin at the F-16 and then F-22 production facility, and industrial firefighting. Her electrical safety university courses provided her another passion — living and breathing and staying current with the National Electrical Code®.  

“Over the years, knowing the electrical code has helped me and my clients when I’m out visiting plants and doing audits,” Pat says. “I see plenty of violations, and I’m very hard on electricians! They are one of our most educated trades, and they know better. When I find somebody is cutting corners, I know that they are potentially allowing something to happen that shouldn’t happen. It may not affect them personally, but it could affect somebody years down the road that works on that circuit.” 

Thomas Loss Control Enterprises provides safety consulting, services, and training. Consulting includes writing safety programs, conducting audits, and accompanying company safety directors on location. Services include acting as temporary safety director to cover a leave of absence or supplying extra hands to complete a large safety project. Training can be with individual companies and their employees, teaching at local colleges, or working at OSHA Education Centers to train the safety specialists and trainers. 


IEC Safety Emphasis a Good Fit 

Pat’s involvement with IEC is deep and built upon beyond her long-term work with Texas chapters, including IEC Fort Worth and IEC Dallas.  

“I’ve been on the IEC National Safety Committee for more than 10 years now,” she says. “Prior to that I was involved in both the IEC Fort Worth and IEC Dallas safety committees. And, I have always provided discounts to IEC members contracting my company for help from a safety standpoint.” 

Pat indicates she also is involved with the American Society of Safety Professionals and has been since 1982. She has held various leadership roles, including chapter president, and now is an Advisory Board member for their Fort Worth chapter. 

This year’s IEC Safety Summit, August 20-21 in Milwaukee includes a session, NFPA 70E: Overview, Hazard Identification & Risk Assessment. While Pat indicates there were fewer changes with NFPA 70E this year than in year’s past, there are a couple of significant items IEC members need to know. 

“While not specifically NFPA 70E, there is a new standard, ASTM F3258, which establishes specifications and test requirements for protectors to be worn over electrical workers’ rubber insulating gloves,” she details. “Previously, the standard called for a leather protector over it. With the change, they are not going to limit those protectors to leather only.” 

Pat says there are other materials available now that provide the same level of safety against arc flash but provide even better protection in other ways — these materials are cut resistant and they allow for better dexterity for the worker. 

“Also, there are some modifications, like the new Annex S,” she details. “This references NFPA 70B which is a standard for electrical maintenance of equipment. For a number of years, it’s always been thought that an arc flash happened when the electrician did something wrong, like dropping a screw or shaking while using a tool. But since 70E has come to the forefront, the people responsible for 70E actually being written have reviewed research and they are finding that a lack of electrical maintenance has a big impact on these events happening.” 

This new annex specifies requirements for regular maintenance of electrical equipment to keep it in good operating order. 

“When I was working plants, I’d see plant management do away with regular equipment maintenance and say ‘when it breaks, we’ll fix it’ instead of doing the maintenance to keep it in good working order,” Pat says. “Now with 70E and 70B, that’s driving that requirement of let’s maintain this equipment so that it doesn’t fail.” 

Pat says also new in 2024 as it relates to job planning is clarifying that companies must have an emergency response plan in place. 


A Look Back 

Pat is adamant that issues of safety remain top of mind in the electrical field. While she reflects of vast improvements made to limit serious accidents like those that befell her dad and others in her hometown, she warns against complacency. She feels some types of incidents have actually increased. 

“I’ve actually seen the safety field and fire protection come full circle as we’ve moved toward less hands-on instruction,” she says. “When I got into safety instruction, construction incidence rates were not near what the general industry was. Over the years, I’ve seen that completely flip flop. General industry incidents are down, and construction rates are up — although not nearly as high as they were in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.  

“Overall, I think things are a lot safer now, and I believe there are less hazardous materials spills and a lot less fires,” she continues. “We’re more aware; we have increased regulations. I tell people in my classes — no one likes to wear personal protective equipment and it’s not our first line of defense. But if all our other safety controls fail and something happens, we still have PPE to protect the person.” 

Pat believes that every single person needs to own safety and that with important work like 70E, we’re improving greatly the equipment that is engineered and installed in our systems.  

 “We have to teach safety first. One of my mottos when I opened Thomas Loss Control Enterprises was basically that I want to work myself out of a job,” she laughs. “I want to make companies self-sufficient and not need me.”