A blue-collar band of brothers

October 2, 2006
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Joanne Dean (center) and her band of brothers.


Being in the field provides me with the perfect opportunity to find out what construction workers have to say about safety. We can understand what people are about if we probe a little and then take time to listen.
At the end of a recent on-site safety meeting performed for one of our projects, the Kessler Hospital addition located in New Jersey, I asked for volunteers to be interviewed about their perspectives on safety. Five men chose to participate and welcomed the opportunity. The setting was in our site trailer. Each man spoke while the others listened intently. These men remind me of what makes up the character and bonds of the men represented in the HBO World War II mini-series, “Band of Brothers.” My question: “What has inspired you to care about safety?”

Learning the hard way

Bob Taylor, Bonland Industries, has been a dedicated union worker for more than 30 years.

“I have always been a hard worker, but it wasn’t until February 17, 2004, when my good friend was killed that I became truly motivated to be a safer worker. Everything changed for me when Art Gyorgydeak, my good friend and partner, fell 13 feet off a scaffold to his death. Working safely would have saved his life.

“Believe me, I speak up for safety everyday now. This event motivated me to become an OSHA outreach instructor for our union. I don’t want anyone else to learn the hard way. So, safety is very important to me. I embrace every opportunity to tell my personal story to help motivate others to do the right thing.”

It’s all about relationships

Rich Schenone, foreman for Bender Construction, is a passionate man who centers his safety process on developing strong relationships with his workers.

“These men and women are like family to me and I treat them that way. So, I do everything I know to protect them. I am also an avid motorcyclist and safety is no joke in that sport. There are no short cuts there, and it goes the same for the construction industry. I have been a union plumber for 30 years and safety is personal for me, extending to my immediate family and my work family. I have a responsibility to protect them in the best way I can.”

Having fun and working safely

Rich Meyler, foreman for Star-lo Electric, has been a tradesman for 28 years. With a candid smile, this 6’7” man says he loves his work and cares about having a good time. This is a big guy with a big heart.

“Safety is about caring and making sure your men go home uninjured. There is a special chemistry that you must develop with everyone to make safe work appreciated. Everyday we must remind workers about safety, and I do not mind doing that. Safety is personal and I have a personal responsibility — for me and my men.”

Actively caring for safety

“My name is Jeff Lucarella and I have been a union laborer for 18 years. Safety is natural for me. It’s human nature for me to pay attention to what is happening all the time. A laborer does it all. We are always around the different trades helping them and watching out for their safety. It comes with our territory, and it is second nature for me to speak up for safety. I have no problem bringing up a safety concern at any time to any one.

“My ongoing motivation comes from seeing different injuries, including a fatal one at Newark Airport when I observed a man crushed to death by a lift. I care about what I do and the people I work around. It is my personal responsibility to care everyday for the safety of our coworkers.”

Thinking beyond the job

Kevin Worthington, Gale Construction Site Superintendent, has been in construction for 34 years. He is an outstanding leader and has always represented safety with passion and dedication. He tells everyone that their work is just a job, and you need to be safe so you go home to your families. You have to pay attention to make safety happen. If something goes wrong, he stresses, it is his responsibility to answer for it. “There is a great deal of personal pride in my work and the last thing I want to do is call a family to tell them what happened to their family member. My motivation comes from family and every worker has a family that cares.”

It is so inspirational to capture the essence of others’ lives. We can be inspired and learn from the workers in the field. Yes, these men are a band of brothers who understand what it means to band together for safety. These types of people are in front of us everyday, and should continually inspire us to never give up and make safety a true value.

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