My Story: Shawn King
In the 1980s, I was on a break on the 22nd floor of a high-rise building in San Francisco. The superintendent walked in, threw a full-body harness on the floor and said, “Everyone working at heights will be wearing one of these and tying off.”
I was working in the raising gang, connecting, and thought, “No way am I wearing one of those and tying off.”
Sometime after that, I attended a union meeting where one of the apprenticeship instructors was stepping down and taking a position as a safety manager for a general contractor. After the meeting, I congratulated him and he suggested I get a résumé together, because they were looking for people for their growing company. He also recommended I take the OSHA 500 course. With the 500 and a few other courses I took through the Ironworkers, I had the basic requirements of a safety person. As it turned out, it was an excellent opportunity for me. With companies devoting more resources toward safety, my experience in the field and my willingness to ensure companies follow their safety programs, it was a good fit for me.
My first project as a safety professional was with a general contractor in San Francisco. For most of the workers, it was the first time they had a full-time safety person on their project, so it was a bit of an oddity. It was very rewarding to be part of the solution to issues confronting daily tasks. When I was with another contractor, I introduced pre-task planning. At first, there was pushback from management and the field. However, after some coaching, it was seen as more of a tool and asset to getting the tasks and project safely completed.
Today, I’m with a team of safety consultants. We manage safety oversite on a large transit project in the San Francisco Bay Area. I could not be happier.
Shawn King, CHST, OHST, LEED AP
Deputy Safety and Security Manager
San Jose, CA