My Story: Phil van Veen
My first project engineering job in a Pennsylvania precious metals processing facility included the safety function, which sounded great, as I had been a volunteer firefighter for four years. I was eager to put some of that training to practical use. In addition to working on plant process improvement projects, I obtained a copy of the OSHA general industry standards and proceeded to implement a respirator program and a fire equipment inspection program and improve the personal protective equipment program, as well as become a forklift trainer. As I progressed through my engineering and safety career with three other metals-related firms over a 10-year period, I gained experience with underground storage tanks, hazard communication, chemical spill responses, SARA Title III standards, machine guarding, welding, and first aid and CPR instruction.
After our insurance carrier conducted industrial hygiene sampling at my fourth employer, I became interested in the field and was eventually able to land a job with a local environmental testing firm, where I gained experience with asbestos and lead paint remediation, airborne contaminant sampling, and water sampling.
After seven years of industrial hygiene work, I was hired by a mechanical contractor to provide construction site safety supervision at a refinery, which involved scaffolding, ladders, fall protection, aerial lifts, crane operations and permit systems.
Subsequently, I was employed as a construction safety supervisor for an automotive assembly plant conveyor installer for projects in Delaware and Michigan. After that, I worked as a site safety supervisor for an electrical contractor on a one-year project at a Pennsylvania pharmaceutical plant, which involved confined space and trenching and shoring operations. As that project was nearing its end, the site contractor safety meeting leader announced an opening for a safety director for a nearby concrete construction contractor. I applied and was hired, and have been working for the contractor for the past 18 years on a variety of major building projects in the greater Philadelphia area. I’m fortunate to have gained two assistant safety directors to help carry the load.
We function very well as a team and communicate daily to provide effective safety support to the jobsite foremen. The most rewarding part of the job is the appreciation expressed by employees and foremen for making positive impacts on their lives.
Phil van Veen
King of Prussia, PA