Safety First: Our Award-Winning In-House Safety Team

10/9/2019

​Creating a safety culture is a priority at Opus. Safety is the first of our six core values, and we commit significant resources to safety, including an in-house safety team with over 60 years of combined professional safety experience. The safety team strives to create and maintain effective safety programs and promote safer job sites.

Deep Expertise in Safety Leadership – The Safety Team

Josh Babiasz, who was recently promoted to Director of Safety Management, now leads our safety team. In this role, Josh leads and coordinates all safety operations, including overseeing the development, implementation and administration of our safety programs, practices and procedures. He continues to make regular and frequent visits to our jobsites and champion our Safety First culture across the country. Josh has been with Opus since beginning his construction career here in 2000. 


[Read more about Josh and his recent promotion.]

Andy Smoka, who has served as the Director of Safety Management for several years, is responsible for continually evaluating and enhancing company-wide safety programs. Andy is an established and recognized safety leader within the construction industry and has spent hundreds of hours promoting and leading safety and injury prevention programs, including more than 25 years on the Labor, User, Contractor Committee (LUC), which develops and provides OSHA training.

Pedro Lopez, who recently joined our team as a Regional Safety Manager, is responsible for the implementation and oversight of health and safety programs for jobsites in Minnesota. He performs jobsite safety inspections, develops and facilitates general and site-specific safety training programs and promotes safety accountability for all Opus employees. 

Safety Collaboration & Training Runs Deep

The safety team works closely with representatives from various departments to administer safety throughout the organization. Josh, Andy and Pedro also meet regularly with field leadership teams to review, evaluate and improve safety at project sites. Via Foreman Safety Committees, they work with field foremen from each of our signatory trades to conduct safety trainings and review safety issues, communication, tools and processes. They also manage and lead project-specific safety committees that conduct periodic safety checks and walk-throughs on each Opus job site. These efforts encourage safety participation from everyone in the field and strengthen relationships between subcontractors and Opus employees.


Training is an important part of our safety culture. The safety team conducts in-house training for OSHA's Construction 30-hour and 10-hour courses. Employees who operate equipment like forklifts, scissor lifts and articulating boom lifts receive in-house training for their certification. For training in flagging, signaling, rigging and scaffolding, we use third parties for certified training. Our foremen and superintendents are all certified in first aid and CPR.

“Our team is continually evaluating the safety of our operations and innovating to find even better ways," said Josh. “Each year we include more and more people in the process, ensuring every part of our operation is properly educated about safety and its importance." 

Companywide Safety Benefits our Clients

Our focus on safety affects everything we do from development and design, all the way through construction. The safety team creates project-specific safety plans to promote safe work practices on every job site. This company-wide focus on safety ultimately contributes to our ability to meet deadlines and successfully construct buildings. 

“Our Executive Leadership Team firmly supports our efforts to create a safety culture at Opus," said Josh. “In addition to providing resources, they make their support known by participating in safety-related initiatives in the field and by periodically attending safety meetings and walk-throughs at jobsites." 

Recently, our Executive Leadership Team took the OSHA 10-hour course. Clearly, this group does not operate heavy equipment or work on scaffolding at heights, so attending this training certainly wasn't required. But when the idea was presented to them, everyone immediately jumped on board because they wanted to be informed and support and promote a safety culture within the organization.  

Accolades for Opus Safety

Our safety team's commitment to creating a safety culture and resulting jobsite safety record continues to be recognized. We have received five Minnesota Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (MNSHARP) Construction certifications and three LECET Safety Driven Awards of Excellence. While these awards were conferred in Minnesota, they reflect our significant focus on safety nationwide.

Andy Smoka's individual contributions to safety have been noticed as well. In 2016, he was honored with the LECET Safety Spirit Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to construction safety in Minnesota. Andy was only the second person to receive this award in its 10-year history.

“Good measures of safety climate are OSHA evaluation scores," Andy said. “Opus scores have consistently trended up in the past 10 years, so we know we are successfully nurturing a culture where safety is foremost in everyone's mind."

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Safety is truly woven into the fabric of our culture, supported by our in-house safety experts and is a key component of our everyday operations. Safety is a value we all reflect. 

Learn More About Safety at Opus

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