Women In Construction - Colin DeBre'
March 11, 2022
Colin, champions safety here at Quiring as our Director of Safety and was instrumental in helping us achieve the Cal/OSHA VPP-C Program at our Pontiac B5 Project. She has her master’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety from Columbia Southern University. Not only is she passionate about safety she is also passionate about her family including the love of her life, her son and two fur-babies that have her wrapped around their paws. Hear from her 23 years’ experience in the Occupational Health and Safety field on the current state of women in construction below.
The number of women in construction has been on the rise. What do you think are some advantages of being a woman in the construction industry?
- As a female Safety Director, I feel my maternal instincts are a huge asset. I care about people; I want to make sure people go home the way they came in.
What advice would you give to a young woman entering the industry?
- Educate yourself, even after your earning your degree, participate in continuing education as standards are always changing. Don’t be shy, get out in the field and get to know your teammates and trade partners. Listen to what they have to say so you can see the deltas and/or opportunities for improvement.
What makes you proud of working in the construction industry?
- I love watching construction from the ground up or demolition to rebuild. I really value our partnerships with our trade partners. Especially, watching our trade partners growth in safety as our partnership and buildings grow.
What do you think is the most important change happening in the construction industry?
- When I think about change, I think the biggest shift from a safety lens in construction has come from the CAL/OSHA Partnership programs. Introducing our trade partners to Cal/OSHA Consultation and coming alongside them through the process. Everyone has benefited from learning more about safety protocols and processes – it has been a win-win for all involved.
Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction?
- I have always been drawn to construction as there is never a dull moment, and what we build is amazing! All the different moving parts, teams, trades, and processes is exciting to be a part of. From a safety perspective, construction has one of the highest injury and mortality rates, therefore offering great opportunities to make an impact. I have found my niche in construction safety and finding it rewarding to be amongst all our teams; helping people is my passion.
What has been the biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?
- One of the hurdles I’ve faced is people taking me seriously as a female in construction. I believe there is a misconception that I don’t know what it takes to build, therefore how can I contribute? By getting out there, boots on the ground, and talking with our trades, and treating everyone with respect – it is given in return. Getting our trade partners to know, like, and trust me is a huge part of the process in implementing positive changes in safety.
What is your most memorable moment working in construction?
- For me working with all our projects has been rewarding – the camaraderie and team building improves with each building we complete. One opportunity that stands out to me was when we partnered with Cal/OSHA Consultation for the Voluntary Protection Program in Construction (VPP-C). A year-long partnership with our trade partners and Consultation OSHA was such a great learning experience. Everyone that participated in this benefited from learning best practices, and ways to improve their safety protocols/processes. We came alongside our trade partners in a true partnership – we learned from them, and they learned from us. It is my hopes we continue to seek opportunities to partake in the VPP-C process moving forward.
What is your favorite part of your career in construction?
- Working with our trade partners and project teams. I love that there is continuous change and growth opportunities that challenge me, and ensure I keep learning!
How do you think the construction industry can attract more female candidates?
- By highlighting the success of women in the industry. I think future generations are looking to see what possibilities and opportunities are out there for them, and they might even see themselves in us; the thought “if she can do, so can I!”
How do you evaluate success on a construction site?
- From my role, no one getting hurt. Everyone going home to their families and maybe even learning something along the way about safety that they didn’t know before.
What types of construction projects Inspire you?
- I love demo, it is amazing. It is an organized chaos, the destruction before the rebuild. Its such a well-orchestrated dance with all that goes into demolition. Also, to renovate an old building and make it new again is so rewarding!
Why did you decide to join the Quiring Team?
- The people, Quiring cares about their people and their families. I love that we support continuous learning and seek ways to help and encourage our people to grow. I am grateful they felt my skillset and experience would be a good fit, and I take great pride in being Quiring General’s first female Safety Director.