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: Kevin Cochenour
Company: The Beaver Companies (Beaver Excavating, Beaver Constructors, Stone Products, & Tractor Parts)
Title/Position: Safety Manager
Years Working in Construction: 10 years
How did you begin your career in construction?
Started working as a laborer during a shutdown at a petrochemical refinery, then began sitting on the Behavioral Based Safety team. I then began working as a Safety Technician in the refinery and after a year was promoted to Safety Supervisor. I have been in a Safety Management position for 7 years.
How do you contribute to the overarching safety of your company’s workforce?
Leadership, Drive, & Compassion. I believe that my leadership style helps to lead our team by leading from the front where they can see me. I show the example that we can laugh, relate, and still focus on the policies/procedures that encompass our work. My drive keeps pushing me to learn more an get better. I feel that to truly succeed in this career, you must have an earnest desire to save the world. I also feel that I have a good sense of rapport with field, management, and our safety team. This assists in a sense of trust and keeps better open communication flowing. My compassion for safety in the work we do is one of the main reasons that keeps me energized. I relate to the people we work with…they have spouses, children, parents, goals, etc. Being devoted through this compassion to help “save the world” is a mutual goal to help our team members go home to the people counting on them each night.
What does your company do to ensure safety on the job?
One of first things that attracted me to the Beaver Companies was their safety culture, and I mean speaking with the workers in the field and witnessing their efforts and belief that they “are their brothers’ keeper” attitude. Also, when I first met ownership, I felt a genuine ownership over the safety of their workers, a genuine care & concern. Most big companies have effective safety policies, procedures, and best practices, but the integrity to look after each other is what sets a safety culture up for success.
What is one thing you wish the general public knew about safety in construction?
Almost all good companies constantly juggle quality, productivity, & safety. A successful company drives to make sure each is as important as the other. Too many times I have worked around other companies or people that only look at productivity first, then a little quality, but safety is just something you have to help get more work. Safety must be a commitment. Unfortunately, the majority of the general public only looks at cost and when can it be done. Few know or have experienced what could happen when you cut out safety. I think it’s not that anyone would sacrifice someone’s safety…it’s just that they don’t see in the possibilities of what could go wrong. A good safety person has to always be thinking about the what if’s and trying to predict the possible future to prevent an accident.
How can the public help keep construction workers and work zones safe?
Commit and listen. Construction takes time and with it, inconvenience. Everyone involved is working diligently to get the area back to normal as quickly as they can. Construction workers are trying to do a job. There have been rules and policies set up for a reason. They may seem like an inconvenience now, but they are designed to move the project safely along so that the area can be returned back to the public and most likely improved than what it was. Commit to allowing the construction workers to do their jobs safely and listen to the rules set in place to achieve that.