Meet the Expert: Safety Director Tracy Winter
Tracy Winter, Sellen’s Director of Safety, has been with the company since 1989 and has more than 30 years of industry experience. He draws from this knowledge to provide strong leadership to Sellen’s safety program, which is at the heart of everything we do.
What is your role as Director of Safety at Sellen?
My role is to guide and assist our safety team, as well as our on-site teams, to maintain safe project sites. Our primary goal is to make sure every single person that steps foot on a Sellen job site goes home in the same or better condition they arrived in.
What are some of Sellen’s core safety principles?
Safety is central to every work plan we develop, regardless of how big or small a project is. Every aspect of our work needs to be pre-planned with safety in mind — we strive to be proactive with planning, instead of having our teams in a reactive state. And lastly, it’s important that every employee, whether they work for Sellen or for one of our subcontractors, feels empowered to report potentially unsafe conditions. In our eyes, everyone on the job site is part of the safety team.
How has safety in the construction industry changed over the years?
It has undergone tremendous change over the last several decades. For example, look at the personal protective equipment (PPE) our employees wear. Thirty years ago, it included hardhats, safety glasses and boots. Now, everyone is in Class Two or Class Three safety vests, hard hats, safety glasses, advanced fall protection equipment and all different levels of protective gloves are being used.
We have safety representation on all of our projects assisting field teams with meeting safety regulations and solving unique safety challenges. A few decades back, this team approach to safety was less prevalent.
We’re also leveraging technology like Building Information Modeling (BIM) to plan our safety approach from the earliest stages of design. We’re able to determine what the unique safety challenges are going to be on a project long before it starts.
One of the biggest changes doesn’t have anything to do with technology or equipment — it’s a mindset. In the past, a site may have had one or two safety champions. Now, as much as possible, we get everyone involved. Our projects are far safer when everyone is thinking about and monitoring safety, instead of just one of two people.
How do you see safety changing in the future?
I believe we will start seeing better digital applications to assist with safety audits, particularly with mobile technology like iPads and iPhones.
We’re also seeing better tools for perimeter protection, like self-climbing perimeter barriers and netting. Tethering of tools has also gained significant traction, and will continue to improve going forward.
I think project owners will continue to better understand the value added through careful pre-planning of our safety program. It’s clear that when safety is paramount, it leads to better quality and efficiency as well.
What’s the best safety advice you’ve ever received?
Be thoughtful, stay calm and when you see a problem, do your best to offer solutions.
With Sellen Since 1989
First Job: Framing houses in the late 1970s.
Hobbies: Family and fun on Whidbey Island, skiing, boating, fishing, golf, and stand up paddle boarding.
Favorite Project: Emerald Downs Grandstand was a very unique project, and it’s still fun to look at as I drive by.