“Working in the construction industry is a unique type of job. If you make a mistake, it can be fatal. You have to have a strong safety conscience no matter what you do: on and off the job site.“- Kris Lewin, Live Oak Contracting’s Safety Manager.
Here’s what Kris had to say about his career and working with Live Oak:
Can you start by talking a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in the construction industry?
Growing up, my father was on the Safety Committee for Bellsouth, and he engrained “safety comes first, last, and always.” Playing college football and then becoming a firefighter, safety was always at the forefront of my mind. After spending some time as a firefighter in North Charleston, South Carolina, I moved back to my native state of Florida and joined my brother at a small construction firm in Fort Myers. I started there as a Laborer, sweeping floors and installing drywall and stucco. Soon after starting, I wanted to create a safety program that kept our workers safe. I began to research safety manuals and became OSHA 30 certified. I took more of an active role in safety from there, implementing safety procedures and creating new company policies and procedures to ensure compliance with OSHA. I then had an opportunity to further my career, transitioning from overlooking residential jobs to overseeing high-density commercial projects, some as high as 65 stories.
- The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
- Universal Studios’ Epic Universe theme park.
- Endless Summer Resort.
- Johnson and Johnson’s Vision Utility Plant.
- My kids’ personal favorite, Walt Disney World’s Lilo and Stitch: The Great Escape.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
At the end of the day, everyone wants to return home in the same condition that they arrived to work in. If I can do that, I’ve done my job.
Any interesting trends in multifamily construction worth noting?
We just wrapped up OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down week by taking a time out for safety to discuss fall hazards and how safety affects everyone. Safety in construction is so different from safety in other industries. Your next step could be your last one. In the end, the building is going to be built either way, but there could be no coming back from a serious incident. We had an engaging dialog with over 300 workers addressing questions and concerns and made it fun by giving out gift cards for participation on construction safety.
Care to share any upcoming projects you’re excited about?
I’m excited about all of them! We are about to break ground on Park Place at San Marco, and it will be the first project where I will be able to implement our new safety policies and procedures. Also, our project, Canfield Park in Connecticut is starting to take shape and is a 45-minute commute by train to New York City, where I lived in my twenties.
Any advice for someone considering a career in construction?
You have to love it. Be passionate about what you do and show you really care about those you work with and manage. Being born and raised in Miami and having Spanish as my second language has helped me in construction tremendously.