Construction Safety Starts at the Ground Level
Brian Cichetti has been on many project sites in his 13 years with Flatiron Construction subsidiary E.E. Cruz, most in his role as project safety manager. Two years ago, he was promoted to safety director, overseeing safety on all E.E. Cruz projects and supporting project safety managers on their individual projects. It’s a job that comes naturally to him.
“Coming from the project safety side of things, I know what it’s like out there,” says Brian. “I’ve been in heavy civil construction for 25 years, so it’s important that I not just talk the talk, but walk the walk on the ground, side-by-side.”
Staying visible and accessible is an important part of the job. Brian visits all of the job sites in Queens and Manhattan weekly and knows all of the workers by name. Employees can ask safety questions and have policies clarified right on the spot—helpful for a safety department always striving for improvement.
Although he didn’t always know he wanted to work in safety, hints of a future safety career came early. Brian’s younger brother was a safety professional for a pipe company, and Brian’s first job was in heavy construction in a labor union with a large safety training and education program. Both Brian and his brother became involved, and eventually Brian began teaching classes.
“I just found a real interest in it and saw a need for safety training, even back then,” Brian explains. “The rest is history—I’ve been involved in safety ever since.”
Out of all the projects he’s worked on, one project still carries special meaning—the World Trade Center. Brian was working on a project at Goldman Sachs, located across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center complex and watched as the planes hit the towers. His wife, Lisa, worked on the 94th floor of 2 World Trade Center and should have been sitting at her desk—except that she was running late that day.
“Mark, my youngest son’s first day of preschool was that day, and Lisa got stuck in a conversation with Father Miller, the head of his school. She never made it to the office,” remembers Brian. “She was in the building for the bombing in 1993, so this really hit close to home for us.”
Production immediately halted on the Goldman Sachs project, as Brian and other workers helped with the recovery effort. In 2006, Brian returned to the World Trade Center site, working on the 9/11 Museum footing and foundation contract, the first of many World Trade Center contracts that stemmed from the success of that first project.
“We performed well in terms of production and safety on that first project, which I am so proud of, and it led to other projects from entities like the World Trade Center Museum,” added Brian. “Seeing everything come full circle—from the personal connection I have with the tragedy to being able to be part of the rebuilding effort—is truly memorable.”