National Work Zone Awareness Week is dedicated to the safety of our workers, roadways, and drivers. As part of our commitment to safety, I Build America – Ohio is giving safety managers the spotlight to share why safety is so important to our crews and our communities — and how the public can do its part. Check out the profile below for a first-hand look at why safety is important today and every day!
Name: Kathy Michael
Company: Beaver Constructors Inc.
Title/Position: Field Safety Supervisor
Years Working in Construction: 23 Years
How did you begin your career in construction?
I began my career in construction as an Operating Engineer. I was a mother of three children in college, and seriously needing a good paying job. I saw an ad in the local newspaper (showing my age here) for apprentice opportunities to operate heavy equipment. (Great pay, benefits and running big machines!). “Women and minorities were encouraged to apply”, so I did, and that’s when the door opened! I went from the operator’s seat with 13 years experience to supporting kindred construction workers with safety for the past 10 years. The industry has built me.
How do you contribute to the overarching safety of your company’s workforce?
My belief is, safety is a profit center, and most companies do not realize it. If I can work to keep the employee working safe, then they made a good weekly paycheck, they can take care of their families, they get money paid into their retirement, they pay into Social Security taking care of them throughout their lives. The company benefits as well, they have a low EMR, their insurance and workers comp premiums are reduced, and customers look at Beavers stats and know they work hard to keep their employees safe. Fortunately, here at Beaver, ownership has always bought into safety, as safety is Beaver number one Core Value!
What does your company do to ensure safety on the job?
It starts with planning safety into each new project. Beaver’s ownership and employees are involved at all levels (ownership to field): communicating safety processes, issues, and resolutions. All meetings, including field briefings, open with safety discussion. Safety is dynamic and Beaver continually looks for improvement opportunities through hiring competent professionals, safety/quality programs (Beaver IQ program) and company supported training opportunities.
What does ‘Holistic Safety’ mean to you? To your company?
In my honest opinion, holistic safety means that every aspect of a company’s operations are interconnected and safety is in each part of that mechanism; from the technological (equipment and tools), to the people who plan, organize and use them. If any part of that “machine” is missing, it doesn’t work.
When coming to work for Beaver, safety begins at day one. During the introduction of new-hire orientations, as a safety supervisor and past field employee, I am glad to able to tell new workers that the number one reason I work for for Beaver now and back when I started is the safety program. Beaver has a safety team and you would actually meet them! Beaver’s number one core value is safety and it permeates every aspect of their operations.
What is one thing you wish the general public knew about safety in construction?
Worker safety is not just contractor focused. Today’s construction industry safety is about the whole picture. The ultimate goal is for people to live, work and travel safely. We can all commit to that!
How can the public help keep construction workers and work zones safe?
No construction site was ever conceived or built to inconvenience the public. Consider traveling a new route, give yourself a bit of extra time to reach your destination, pay attention to signs, reduce your speeds, and remember that construction workers are building our children’s futures.