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Focus Feature: Mark O’Dette

09 April 2020
Mark O Dette

As the country continues to battle Covid-19, health and safety are of utmost importance to us, especially when it comes to those who are working tirelessly on our jobsites each and every day. Today’s Focus Feature showcases our very own Safety Guru, Mark O’Dette who makes it his number one goal to ensure the safety of everyone on all Focus jobsites.

Check out Mark’s Q&A below which highlights how Focus works year round to keep jobsite safety top of mind.

Deemed an essential service, construction continues in Chicago and on Focus jobsites. What adjustments are being made to ensure the health and safety of all workers as a response to the coronavirus?

I want to assure everyone that we’re taking the proper precautions to protect workers from Covid-19 on all of our active jobsites. To keep our workers safe and healthy, we have implemented several new precautions including reduced crew sizes to ensure workers can maintain their distance, routine cleanings of all high traffic areas, hand-washing and sanitizing stations as well as signs and instructions posted at all sites that review Covid-19 guidelines, including directions for those who may feel ill or symptomatic to stay home and seek care.

You’re known as the Safety Guru at Focus! Tell us why.

I spent 10 years working for a company that taught me that every incident or injury is preventable, and I carry that with me everywhere I go. When I came to Focus, I took that mentality and put it into action. I was asked to review some of the company’s safety policies, so I’ve really tried to help with that to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to make sure our folks are protected and safe.

We know that jobsite safety is a huge priority for Focus. How do you approach jobsite safety and make sure people understand why it is so important?

It starts with our orientation. I developed a presentation that covers not only what’s required to work on our sites, but more importantly, the “why” behind jobsite safety. It isn’t always about the safety aspect per say, but it’s more about the people aspect. I’ve been in this business a long time, and I always say that anyone who is on my jobsite is a part of my family, and my family is more important than anything. When they realize that safety is not to protect you FROM something, but rather it is to protect you FOR something, it takes on a whole new meaning and a whole new level of understanding.

Blueprints and measuring tape

Tell us more about your “Five Reasons Why” approach and how it helps people understand jobsite safety on a more personal level.

I ask each worker to tell me about the five most important things in their lives. Their lists usually includes their children, family, health and income. I explain that this is why they work and why they come to their jobs each day. Connecting with crew members on a personal level and taking the time to care for each one of them helps to provide a deeper level of meaning and commitment.

How did you get into this line of work?

It was a real long time ago. I’ve always liked building things, and I started my career as a carpenter. My favorite memory was arriving early in the morning in a field with a foundation poured, a pile of lumber stacked to the sky, and turning that into someone’s home. I believe I build memories, and this job allows me to do that.

Can you provide a real-life situation where jobsite safety came into play and tell us how Focus was able to tackle it head on?

Our Logan Square project required us to manage the construction of a six story building that used large cranes to lift pre-fabricated wall panels onto the decks. By utilizing our safety protocols, including both pre-planning (crane pre-lift plan) and strong communication (pre-lift meeting, third party crane inspection, complete logistics plans and daily simultaneous operation meetings), we were able to navigate around multiple trades, a very busy four-lane roadway, utility poles, and leading edges with great success. Most importantly, there were no incidents or injuries.

Next Article - 2020’s First Building Chicago Event

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