As a third-generation craftsman, I grew up around construction sites. Some of my earliest memories are of picking up my father from job sites. In my teenage years, I spent my summers as a laborer cleaning debris. Later, I began learning
the carpentry trade on "side work " my father did. After high school, I joined the carpenters union as an apprentice and worked for two years before putting my tools down to join the U.S. Army. After I served my enlisted time, I joined
the U.S. Army reserves and re-entered my apprenticeship. Due to deployment while in the reserves, it took me a few extra years to earn my journeyman certification from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Jointers of America. After
earning my journeyman certification, with a concentration in interior systems, I was quickly promoted to a foreman. Within a few years, I started my career as a superintendent.
As a carpenter, I primarily worked on commercial projects (non-residential construction). Most of my career was spent in the healthcare sector building hospitals. I have a solid understanding of the unique constraints of working in occupied
facilities and have a working knowledge and understanding of the Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) process. I was primarily a cold-formed steel (metal stud) framer with experience building layout and exterior work. I also spent
time hanging drywall, framing acoustic ceiling systems, and installing doors and hardware. As a foreman, I managed other carpenters to meet project deadlines.
My time as a superintendent was spent delivering tenant buildouts, primarily for medical offices, for a special project group. I managed projects that had tight timelines, required off-hours, and were in occupied space. Before taking an
opportunity to work full time in occupational Safety and health, my last project was an animal hospital. I converted a tractor retail store into a multi-operating room animal hospital that included x-ray rooms and sterile kennels.
By this time, I had embraced Safety as a value and knew the importance of preplanning work to include Safety. By implementing short-interval planning (SIP) that included risk identification and mitigation, I was able to bring my projects
in with zero injuries, and under budget. I truly enjoyed my opportunity to work as a superintendent, as it had been a boyhood dream of mine.
Occupational Safety and Health
How I got started in Safety
In 2008, I worked as a project superintendent running a small tenant buildout during the night shift. The carpenters and general labor reported directly to me, and all the MEPs (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) were subcontractors.
One evening, while working with the lead carpenter to determine dimensions at the elevator, I heard the electrician foreman yelling for me. I knew immediately that this was not the typical joking around that we did. As I rounded the
corner with the lead carpenter, I saw the foreman's pale face. I immediately knew that something was very wrong.
When I entered the room, one of the carpenters I worked with was lying tangled in a utility (Baker) scaffolding, face-down on the concrete floor in a pool of blood. We all kicked into emergency action mode. After the ambulance cleared,
the pictures were taken, and reports filed, I had time to process what happened.
I saw him setting up the Baker and knew he should be using the mason scaffolding. I walked away and didn't argue with him because I thought I didn't have time to help him set up the proper scaffolding. I live with the fact that I didn't
make time to help him make the right choice, and that man ended his career on my job. Is it my fault? No, he had the same training I had. He knew the risk, just like I did. That doesn't make it any easier. That single event changed
me and my career path. That is why I do what I do, I never want another supervisor to experience this feeling, and I never want another person to know they will never work in their chosen field again.
My Safety Philosophy
I take a system thinking approach to Safety. I believe that failure is part of being human. It is what we learn from that failure that is what is essential. I believe Safety is about people, and, to borrow from Todd Conklin (2012), it
is best described as the presence of good defenses rather than the absence of incidence. Humans make errors; that is part of our fundamental fallibility. A safety systems approach seeks to understand "how " something happens and put
defenses in place to allow error to occur with minimal impact on human life.
Leadership and Management
My leadership journey started in my early twenties as a U.S. Army fireteam leader in a weapons platoon. I learned the importance of leading from the front and by example. The Army taught me leaders could be made with the proper training
and personal desire. The tactics I learned in the Army around leadership have stuck with me throughout my career.
As a carpenter foreman, I managed workflow to ensure schedule milestones were met and learned a lot about managing personalities and getting the right person in the right position on my team. Superintendent work is all about project coordination
and management skills. I learned more about management than leadership as a superintendent. Scheduling, trade coordination, client relationship, budgeting, quality control, and overall day-to-day operations are the bread and butter
of a superintendent's role. My brief time as a superintended gave me many of the skills I use in managing safety management systems today.
Education and Training
I have always had a passion for learning about the world around me. When I first learned the carpentry trade, I kept a notebook (that I still have) where I scribbled notes about things that I learned or cool projects I got to frame. I
would sketch where screws were placed in studs or jigs I learned to make for soffit framing. In the Army, I took correspondent courses to learn more about my Military Occupational Skillset. I volunteered for numerous schools and training
opportunities, including Combat Lifesaver Course, Field Sanitation Team Certification Course, Airborne School, Air Assault School, etc. In the NEO Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Training Center, I read every textbook cover to cover
and developed a reading textbook hobby that has stuck with me. I order and read a few textbooks yearly purely for the enjoyment of learning. Learning about safety led me to become an Authorized Outreach Trainer for the Department of
Labor. I have trained hundreds of people in the construction field. Safety also motivated me to engage in higher learning. I am currently pursuing a master's in occupational Safety and Health from Columbia Southern University, with
a final goal to earn a Ph.D. so I can spend my golden retirement years transferring my knowledge to the next generation of influencers.
Teaching (Training) Philosophy
When I train adult learners, I focus on learning styles. The information must be presented in a way that adults learn. Adult students must understand what they are learning and why it applies to their lives. I believe that every student
can learn once they know how they learn. I apply the military training principle of crawl, walk, run in my training. I work to give the proper amount of support to foster learning. I believe education and training are robust and happen
through classroom time, on-the-job knowledge transfer, and the practice of doing. It is important to me that I provide learning opportunities that allow students to learn from other people's errors and to learn from their own in a
way that is not harmful to them or others.
I enjoy giving back to my community and working on Habitat for Humanity and Build Together projects. I have donated my time and experience as a carpenter to work in the Restore for Habitat for Humanity. I was blessed to be part of an Extreme
Home Makeover project for a family with sight disabilities. On that project, I was the exterior south foreman. It was quite a learning experience and something I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of. I have held
a voluntary seat as an alternative member for the King William County Wetland board. I continue to look for opportunities to give back, including mentoring other safety professionals.