Posted: August 22, 2016
Last modified: December 26, 2018
Employee Spotlight: Abby Strouse
Environmental, Health, & Safety Intern
Summer resident of Apopka
Hometown: Clearfield, PA
Safety is more than just a field of study or set of impersonal rules for college intern Abby Strouse. Safety can save lives. Strouse knows that all too well.
Not long ago, she lost a high school classmate – a lifelong friend in Pennsylvania – to a work accident (unrelated to any I-4 Ultimate projects). “I had a friend who passed away in a trench collapse back home,” said Strouse who will be a senior at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she studies Safety, Health, and Environmental Applied Sciences.
While Strouse spends the summer interning with SGL Constructors – the design-build joint venture of Skanska Granite and Lane for the I-4 Ultimate Project – she is proud to be part of a team that emphasizes safety everywhere. Even workers with desk jobs take part in the daily group exercise called Stretch and Flex, where the goal is to loosen the joints, focus the mind and remind each other to stay safe.
“I love when I come into the office for stretch and flex, and everyone is greeting each other with good mornings and hellos. It’s a great atmosphere to work in,” Strouse said.
She has witnessed that same caring approach on the construction sites, too. “I love spending time out in the field, talking to crews and getting to know who they are, what they are doing, and learning the operations they are completing. What I like the most is feeling like I belong, keeping people safe by being able to recognize potential hazards and, most importantly, sending them home to their families injury free.”
She also has been impressed that anyone on the I-4 Ultimate team can halt the work if a safety concern arises. “Everybody on the project has ‘stop-work’ authority,” she explained.
Her SGL mentor, Samantha Perry, who is Environmental, Health, and Safety Manager for Area 5, often quizzes her about their site visits and encourages her to talk with equipment operators to understand their jobs better. Instead of being a stranger, Strouse becomes a friendly listener – one willing to hear concerns.
That’s one of the unforgettable lessons of the summer: Take a personal interest in the people you want to keep safe. “If they know you, they feel more inclined to talk to you.”