Why Safety?

In 2008 I was running a small tenant build out on nightshift as a project superintendent. The carpenters and general labor reported directly to me and all the MEP’s (mechanical electrical and plumbing) were subcontractors.

One evening while I was 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 normal joking around that we did. As I round the corner with the lead carpenter, I saw the foreman’s pale face and knew immediately that something was very wrong. He didn’t say anything just turned and started to jog in the direction he was coming from. We followed…

When I entered the room one of the carpenters I worked with was laying tangled in a 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 where 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 right 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. I was catapulted into construction safety. I took every class about safety I could, eventually earning a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health from Columbia Southern University. 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.

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