My Story: Boris Kiprovski
Some of us learn respect for safety procedures the hard way. Fresh out of high school, I joined the armed services of my native country, the Republic of Macedonia (today known as the Republic of North Macedonia). Over a period of about five years, I traveled from one global hot spot to another: Afghanistan, Iraq and the Republic of Georgia – wherever I was needed. Driving reconnaissance missions in enemy territory and working under conditions in which a moment of carelessness could spell disaster quickly taught me to prioritize safety.
After leaving the army, I worked for a private security firm in some of those same hot spots. Shortly afterward, I joined Fluor Corp. as an environmental, health and safety specialist, as part of the U.S. Army Logistics Civil Augmentation Program. I spent some time in Afghanistan, Dubai and Africa, and had an opportunity to work with people from 40 different countries.
I learned that no matter where you’re from, we all share some values: It’s usually better to do things right the first time, respect and finding common ground are powerful tools in building team unity, and taking care of your people is the foundation of success for any group.
I never intended to pursue a career in safety. However, I developed a passion for building and implementing effective safety plans by spending a lot of time in the field, working alongside the trades during the day and spending my evenings taking EHS classes. During this period, I also met a wonderful American woman who is now my wife. We decided to continue our life together in the United States, so I started looking for industries in which my interest in safety would be valued. I was drawn to construction and was thrilled to accept a job at Skanska in 2015.
The skills and values forged in my military service pivoted seamlessly into leading, collaborating, mentoring, educating and monitoring to keep construction teams vigilant about safety procedures.
In my current role, I manage a team of eight EHS pros who ensure every jobsite under our purview adopts the regulations required by state and federal governments, along with those mandated by company policies. I’m also privileged to work with students and faculty at several universities, making them aware of construction safety and promoting opportunities in the industry.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, my role as an EHS director has taken on new dimensions, including adding protocols to keep people safe, such as disinfecting, physical distancing and wearing personal protective equipment. We’ve expanded our responsibilities and led outreach efforts to connect our people and community with resources and services for testing, vaccination and support.
Although these challenges have increased our responsibilities, they’ve also shown our resilience and ingenuity. They’ve proven once again that people are our richest resource, and doing our best to keep them safe and protected no matter the threat is one of the most vital and fulfilling jobs we can do. I’ve been humbled to see our ongoing capacity to implement, enforce and disseminate EHS procedures grow to meet these changing demands. We’ll continue doing our best to provide an injury-free environment for our workforce.
Environmental Health and Safety Director