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"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always." — Robin Williams
According to the CDC, the construction industry is ranked as the #1 industry for deaths by suicide. As professionals in this field, we must be better at not only empathizing but initiating conversations that could save lives.
To that end, nearly 20 professionals from 15 member companies attended The Unified Group’s 2023 Safety Directors’ Forum in Chicago. During the October event, attendees learned about safety-related issues, ranging from physical protection to mental health. Although all companies follow OSHA standards and regulations, many lack that mental health awareness component.
“As a group, we face a lot of the same issues, whether it’s dealing with other contractors or even employees,” said Joshua DeBurgo of Environmental Systems, Inc. “I got insight on issues I didn’t even know we had within our organization. It was definitely eye-opening.”
On day one of the two-day session, Randy Nemchin of Radical Guidance Consulting opened with a presentation on Creating a Safety Culture. Nemchin covered relevant tactics regarding mindset, behaviors, processes and overall culture. The true culture of an organization is what happens when the managers leave the room. Erika Wickstrom led the second half of the day by covering Raising Mental Health Awareness.
“The best part of the meeting was making new contacts within the mechanical community,” said Melissa Melendez of Intech Mechanical. “If I didn’t attend, I would have missed out on making new connections and learning their unique insight to how they approach issues within their company.”
The panel of professionals who led the Effectively Communicating Safety Practices Within Your Company segment was the highlight of day two. Brian Scott of Mechanical Services & Systems, Inc. facilitated as member MC, and panelists included Mike Eck of Dean E. Norris, Raymon Brison of General Sheet Metal, Erica Peet of VHV Company and Melissa Melendez of Intech Mechanical. These experts covered the various tips and tricks practiced within their company that have proven successful and effective.
Overall, the 2023 Safety Directors’ Forum was a beneficial meeting with the ability to have a greater impact all over the nation. By raising awareness and genuinely caring for each other, we can work together to change the negative impacts of mental health and view safety practices in a positive light.