This year’s Safety Week campaign is grounded in several key values that represent the trades—namely, empowerment, recognition, partnership, and impact.
Samuel Perez, SMS, CHST, Site Safety Director at Torcon, a leading U.S. construction management firm, said those safety pillars align with his company’s core message—delivering quality work by fostering a culture of communication, collaboration, and trust.
“We have our top-down initiative that also speaks to pillars,” Perez told Highwire. “What Safety Week is speaking to is much of what we speak to at Torcon. Empowerment, for example, is one of the pillars we have.”
Creating a culture of safety through transparency
As a certified Safety Management Specialist and Construction Health and Safety Technician, Perez says in his experience safety is all about transparency. For example, before Torcon awards its contracts for a given job, it presents prospective contracting partners with its minimum safety standards—setting expectations immediately to establish a strong safety culture.
While site work is underway, transparency means speaking up when the moment calls for it, Perez explained. But it also means including everyone involved. Torcon’s safety managers convene daily meetings that provide front-line supervisors the opportunity to communicate hazards or other problems that might impact crews.
“We are always encouraging people to be transparent in any issue they see on site that may affect them or their workers,” Perez said. “We never look to withhold or withdraw information, especially life safety: fire, rescue, and emergency services. More often than not, we see people speaking up for their workforce.”
‘Our job is solely communication’
The practical work of keeping the job site safe is about clearly identifying hazards. To that end, Perez said he and his team look to the Focus Four Hazards: falls, caught-in or -between, struck by, and electrocution.
But maintaining a safety ethos within and across projects is “all about communicating the right information,” he added.
That communication begins at the executive level.
“As a contractor or construction manager, our job is solely communication,” Perez said. “How can we get information to the end-user in an effective manner? One thing is always consistent: you need ownership support. It’s a top-down approach, and in the middle, you need your front-line supervision—foremen, supervisors, and field personnel, who are the most influential out there.”
Perez emphasized that front-line supervision is a critical line of communication.
“Front-line supervision needs to be able to communicate both ways,” Perez said. “They need to be able to speak to the owner of any organization at any given moment and their first-day apprentices on the job.”
The importance of recognition
Rewarding workers for demonstrating integrity or acting in the overall team’s best interest can go a long way toward establishing trust between crews, managers, and owners—boosting morale on the front lines. “We all have thankless jobs here,” Perez said.
“Nobody ever walks into a building and asks, ‘Wow, I wonder who erected this steel beam that is sheltering my head?” “A little pat on the back goes a long way,” Perez said. “When they do something good for the group, I like to boast about it.”
Meet our Safety Leaders
STEVE LARUSSA, EHS MANAGER – GOOGLE
GAVIN TAYLOR, CSP, DIRECTOR OF EHS – LEE KENNEDY (COMING SOON)
JOSHUA JOHNSON, CSP, CORPORATE SAFETY DIRECTOR – ROSENDIN ELECTRIC
DAVID WATTS, EHS DIRECTOR – SKANSKA
SAMUEL PEREZ, SMS, CHST, SAFETY PROFESSIONAL – TORCON
THE SAFETY TEAM – W. L. FRENCH EXCAVATING CORPORATION