By Daniel Vogel, Safety Specialist

Being a young professional in the construction industry is not without its challenges. In January 2018 I was offered the opportunity to step into the role of Safety Specialist and be a resource for promoting a safe culture throughout the company. Transitioning from my previous role as a laborer in the field into my current position has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but has also exposed me to new challenges. Challenges I have been able to overcome as a result of the people that I am surrounded who have been excellent mentors in my professional development.

For example, a few weeks ago we had a crew performing a weir gate installation. The work required an elaborate bypass system at the top of the headworks to the plant. As with all permit required confined spaces, the environment in which the work was to take place had the potential to contain numerous hazards. Although we had a thorough plan in place to control these hazards, we quickly found that the elevated hydrogen sulfide levels were unmanageable. Our craft workers did a great job identifying the hazardous atmosphere and immediately suspended operations. At this point, the superintendent reached out to the Vogel Bros. Safety Department to consult on the mater.

When faced with this challenge, I was able to depend on leadership within the Safety Department for advice on how to proceed. Within an hour we found an air-purifying respirator with specialized canisters that were rated for the hydrogen sulfide levels within our working area. By the end of the day we had them in hand, and were able to fit test the crew so they could continue their work and stay on schedule. I credit the guidance of my mentors and their continual commitment to our belief that “all jobsite accidents are preventable,” for the quick resolution.

The Safety Specialist position has afforded me the opportunity to interact and develop unique relationships with each and every member of the Vogel Bros. family. The people and environment here at Vogel Bros. have truly made the transition into this new role seamless. Regardless of the situation, I feel comfortable reaching out to anyone within this organization at any given time for assistance. My main takeaway from this experience so far has been the validity of the statement that “people are the key to our success.” This is a great feeling, as our people truly are a valuable resource for knowledge and advice. I know that I can depend on the mentorship of our staff as I continue to grow and develop within my career.