Embracing the Future with Lisa DeBenedetto: Pioneering Health & Safety in AEC

By Colliers Engineering & Design

Ensuring Safety Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

Accidents are unpredictable, but preparedness is key. At Colliers Engineering & Design, we consider the well-being of our employees paramount to our success. Safety is ingrained in our core values, and everyone shares the responsibility. Lisa DeBenedetto, our Director of Health & Safety with over two decades of experience, plays a pivotal role in safeguarding our workforce. Lisa isn’t just guiding us through the present but is also a visionary steering us toward the future.

A Journey Rooted in Expertise

Armed with a degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University, Lisa’s journey began as an industrial hygienist at a New Jersey military base. Progressing through the ranks, she now spearheads health and safety efforts in the construction industry. Lisa ensures compliance at Colliers Engineering & Design, focusing on daily tasks like drafting standard operating procedures, conducting safety training, and collaborating with project managers to ensure on-site safety. At the heart of her role is not just ensuring compliance but fostering a culture where safety is not a checklist item but a shared passion.

Navigating Compliance in an Evolving Industry

Safety is the backbone of everything we do at Colliers Engineering & Design. You may be wondering how does one person manage the safety of everyone in a 2,600+ person firm spread across 21 states? Lisa’s Health & Safety Program mandates a minimum of three virtual safety courses during onboarding, with additional training as responsibilities grow. A digitized H&S Checklist streamlines entry into the field. Lisa’s safety initiatives have permeated our culture, adopting pre-meeting safety minutes, weekly safety culture raffles, as well as near misses and lessons learned newsletters for employees to learn about safety opportunities from colleagues.

Empowering Discipline Safety Coordinators

Recognizing the need for greater collaboration, Lisa evolved and expanded upon the existing Discipline Safety Coordinator program at Colliers Engineering & Design. These in-house coordinators act as liaisons between disciplines and the Safety Advocate Committee, providing essential feedback and facilitating ongoing safety discussions. The program ensures that safety isn’t just a top-down approach but a collaborative effort where everyone’s voice matters.

“DSCs are important because they get essential feedback I would otherwise not learn about,” explained Lisa. “They meet monthly, if not more often, with their discipline group and learn about important safety issues or discuss topics like new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which the DSCs then relay back to us on the committee for us to implement changes as we see fit.”

As our firm expands, Lisa’s team conducts field safety audits and updates SOPs to ensure everyone’s well-being. Through collaborative efforts, Colliers Engineering & Design has not only felt safer, but has proven to be safer as our firm’s safety rating has steadily increased since Lisa began her tenure.

While it’s typical for companies, including Colliers Engineering & Design, to implement health and safety programs, what distinguishes our program is the outstanding leadership style exhibited by Lisa.

“Lisa’s integrity is beyond reproach,” shared Jennie Muscarella, Esq., Chief Risk Officer. “Her commitment to Colliers Engineering & Design employees, as well as all our clients and insurance partners is exemplary and serves as a testament to Lisa’s leadership capabilities. She leads by example and has created an environment where safety is at the forefront of everything that our firm does.”

Adhering to Industry Standards

Colliers Engineering & Design aligns with OSHA standards to prioritize safety. Lisa’s involvement in the American Society of Safety Professionals and the National Safety Council keeps us ahead of the curve. She is well-versed in professional certifications so that she’s not just staying current; she’s actively shaping the future of health and safety in our industry.

“I truly care about everyone’s health and safety, and I truly want everyone to go home at the end of the day the same way that they arrived to work in the morning,” shared Lisa.

On top of OSHA standards, each state may have additional regulations if, for example, an employee is working with a Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) or Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) group. Certain clients may also have their own set of safety standards, too, that our employees are required to follow.

Tomorrow’s Trends, Today’s Preparation

As we navigate the complex landscape of the AEC industry, Lisa’s proactive approach doesn’t stop at current safety measures. She’s got her eyes on the horizon, exploring the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into our safety protocols. The future, according to Lisa, is AI-bright.

Imagine a world where accidents are not just prevented but predicted. Lisa is captivated by the potential of AI to proactively identify and prevent unsafe acts, near misses, and hazardous conditions. It’s not just about complying with standards but surpassing them with cutting-edge technology.

Lisa’s vision extends beyond traditional safety courses. She’s intrigued by the possibilities of AI-based training tailored to each employee’s needs. Picture a scenario where safety training isn’t a monotonous routine but a personalized adventure. Simulation-based training is also on the horizon, turning safety education into an engaging and immersive experience. In a world increasingly dominated by technology, Lisa emphasizes that the human touch remains crucial. Safety isn’t just about following protocols; it’s about promoting a mindset.

In a world where safety is not just a requirement but a shared journey, Lisa DeBenedetto is not just a leader; she’s a trailblazer, guiding us toward a future where safety isn’t just practiced—it’s ingrained in our DNA. The journey is exciting, the destination—safer, smarter, more connected, and healthier than ever.

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