(714) 491-1317 (714) 333-9700 421 E Cerritos Ave. Anaheim, CA 92805

Safety Week Spotlight: Recognizing Richard Stevens’ 25th Anniversary

Join us in honoring Richard Stevens, whose steadfast commitment to safety and our safety culture has made a profound impact at Gray West Construction. In his role as Director of Safety, Richard has consistently upheld exemplary safety standards, earning him admiration and respect from colleagues. Beyond his professional responsibilities, Richard’s willingness to lend a hand and embody our core values sets a remarkable example for all.

As we mark Safety Week, it’s the perfect moment to celebrate Richard’s 25 years of dedicated service. Congratulations, Richard!

Get to know more about Richard in our exclusive interview below!

 

What does your career path look like?

I started in high school cleaning custom homes as they completed framing. I then left construction for a bit until I had an opportunity years later with a pipeline contractor as what is close to a site project engineer or assistant superintendent position. I traveled the Western US on various natural gas, jet fuel, and oil pipeline projects. When that adventure came to a close, my neighbor worked at a company in Anaheim called Industrial Contracting Engineers and informed me of an opportunity on Cerritos Avenue – that was 25 years ago.

 

What initially attracted you to the field of safety management, and how has your passion for it evolved over the past 25 years?

I have been involved in construction and safety for almost 40 years – construction and safety are uniquely intertwined. So, over the years, safety just took more of a front seat position in my career. The progression to safety management was almost seamless. In the earlier days I could never imagine that safety could be a full-time job for me, but it did, and I have found fulfillment in the interaction with so many as well as mentoring safe action and safe thinking.

 

Reflecting on your career journey, what are some of the most memorable moments or accomplishments you’ve experienced in ensuring workplace safety?

I have always been proud of some of the programs and training efforts that I have built. I am most proud of the Thursday Safety & Quality call that gives safety voice each and every week – with that my style has never been dry or structured and I believe that some of that levity sells the safety concept just a bit more effectively. Believe it or not, I am not really a public-eye guy, unless comfortable, I am a bit reserved in many areas, but safety pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me into the spotlight, and I am thankful for those opportunities… most of the time.

 

How has the approach to safety management evolved since you first started in the field, and what do you see as the most significant changes or advancements?

Both construction and safety have changed and evolved over the years. I would be lying if I thought that those changes were always improvements – we live in a unique time and the means and the ability to nurture safety evolves with us. In the eighties, safety managers around me seemed to be more about screaming and an almost military effort. In those days, we carried around a roll of dimes in order to make calls from the pay phones. Then, think about the onset of cellular communication – my audience used to be those in front of me; now I can call anyone, I can visually collaborate via Teams and similar video feeds, and always see all our ventures within our daily work reports.

 

Could you share some insights into the biggest challenges you’ve faced in promoting safety within our company, and how you’ve overcome them?

Saturation and acceptance have historically always been the biggest challenges. Acceptance manifests compliance and that buy-in comes from effective saturation and training. I often postulate whether we are effective in our training, in our efforts, and in our message, but in the end, I must trust that our culture and our resolve persevere for effective decision-making and care of the process.

 

What role do you believe company culture plays in fostering a safe work environment, and how have you worked to cultivate a safety-focused culture over the years?

Culture is everything. Culture is community and we are a community of builders working in an often hazardous environment. If we can successfully nurture and maintain a flourishing culture, we can establish the foundation of wellness and the interest to be safe as a group.

 

As you look back on your 25 years with the company, what advice would you give to someone starting their career in safety management today?

Be positive yet persistent, thicken your skin, be a good listener, and try to not be reactionary, but always evaluate each challenge or scenario on its own merit – the way you address others’ concerns and challenges molds the way they accept and implement safe work habits – FYI, I am still working on each of these each and every day.

 

How do you maintain your enthusiasm and dedication to promoting safety, even after 25 years on the job?

I know that every day I am given an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, that I get to interact with countless people, that I am blessed with learning from so many, and if lucky improved from those engagements.

 

Lastly, what are your hopes and aspirations for the future of safety management within our company and the industry as a whole?

I always hope that there is just enough safety mindset to reduce the hazards and exposures around us so that just one person or all, build with fewer and fewer hazards around them. If we all make it home to our families and friends every day – my job is complete!

 

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