Interview: Chair of Safety, Dr. Linda Martin, Shares her Thoughts on Construction Safety Week
The following Q&A with Dr. Linda F. Martin, Chair of Safety at and graduate of the PhD in Occupational Health and Safety from Capitol Technology University, marks the close of Construction Safety Week.
Question: For those who may only understand safety in their personal lives, how is safety defined in the professional world?
Answer: Workplace safety is the applied science of helping businesses – no matter what size or industry – to identify hazards, assess risk, and eliminate injuries and damage to equipment, property, and the environment. Employers who show they care about employee safety have seen improved morale, increased productivity, lower costs, and fewer injuries.
Q: Besides the obvious OSHA regulations and the ever-present images of construction workers in hardhats and gloves, how is safety incorporated into the Construction industry?
A: A construction safety professional ensures that construction workers are following established policies and safety regulations. A construction safety professional may take on additional roles and responsibilities, but their primary job is to help create safer construction sites.
Construction work includes many hazardous task and conditions such as working at heights, excavation, noise, dust, power tools and equipment. The most common fatalities are caused by the fatal four: falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions, and being caught in between two objects.
Q: Since this blog is focused around Construction Safety Week, the goal of which is said to be getting the construction industry to “recommit to sending every worker home safe each day,” are there tips for construction or construction safety professionals you’d like to share?
A: I think that construction safety professionals should continue to challenge themselves to keep current on technological advances that can prevent injuries and save lives. For example, work site automation, drones, wearable technology, and other new innovations are constantly being used in unique situations during the construction process. Keeping current and focused on trends is important and a needed skill to add to project success.
Q: Why do you think it is important for safety to be considered in professional fields?
A: There are several safety positions in all industries, not just construction, with different levels of responsibility in a safety career path.
Each advancing requires different mixes of experience, education, and knowledge and skills in leadership, business practices, safety and health, and communication and information technology.
The definition of “profession” is a job class involves prolonged training and a formal qualification. For the construction industry, this means that construction safety professionals bring a level of expertise that is right up there with construction project managers, company owners, and other stakeholders trying to accomplish successful projects on time, on budget and with no injuries.
Q: Have you celebrated Construction Safety Week before in your previous academic or professional roles?
A: Construction Safety Week is a week-long event that happens annually. The construction industry, its clients and business partners take this opportunity to recommit to sending every worker home safe each day.
As a safety professional, I feel that I celebrate safety and the commitment of employers and employees to this goal on a daily basis. My commitment has been ongoing since I stepped on a construction site for the first time 30 years ago.
I celebrate my profession every day, because that is the commitment it takes to keep people safe.
Q: Why do you think Construction Safety Week is important to recognize and celebrate?
A: Construction is an important sector that contributes greatly in the economic growth of any nation. To this end, construction is always ongoing – even in light of the current pandemic – and the construction industry employs millions of people worldwide. The safety of construction workers and the protection of people, property and the environment should always be at the forefront of building any nation’s future.
The Construction Industry is an investment-led sector where government shows high interest.
Q: Would you like to share any other information about yourself or the safety degrees at Capitol Tech?
A: I have 30 years of experience in the occupational health and safety profession. Most of my experience has been in different areas of construction – either on the general contractor or on the subcontractor side of projects. If you care about people, are a good communicator and have a keen eye and analytical mind, then safety is a great career choice.