Safety, He Says, is His ‘Passion’
Longtime IBEW 11 journeyman Mike Costigan brings years of experience to his job as the local’s new Safety Director. We spoke to him about his experience in the field, and his goals for the union’s new Safety Program over the next year.
Q: Mike, tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been an IBEW 11 member and what roles you have served in the union?
A: I’ve been a proud member of IBEW 11 for 35 years. I’m very excited about being appointed the local’s new Safety Director. I’ve also been the District 3 Business Rep for the past three years, so I have a lot of experience dealing with the members on the job and all the problems they confront each day. I’ve also been involved with labor at the regional level as one of the union’s labor delegates to the LA County Federation of Labor, plus I’m a South Bay Workers Investment Board member.
Q: What kind of training and qualifications do you bring to the job?
A: I’m very proud that I earned a Construction Health and Safety Technician [CHST] certificate from the Board of Safety Professionals. And of course I am OSHA certified through the OSHA 30 class and have further OSHA training having taken the NFPA 70E safety program through the ETI.
Q: You mentioned that “Safety was your passion.” Can you tell us a little more about that and how it will help you in your position as Safety Director?
A: Safety became a passion of mine when I started hearing about the alarming rate at which construction workers were injured and killed. Remember, I came into the trade when OSHA was in existence, but wasn’t really taken seriously. Jobs were not as safe then.
When a close friend and IBEW brother of mine was involved in an articulating boom incident, the goal of safe worksites really struck home. I believe if we show up every day and put in an honest day’s work, contractors have an obligation to protect us from ALL safety and health hazards. While I’ve been lucky enough to never have witnessed any tragic accidents at work, I’ve certainly witnessed and experienced a few minor accidents over the years — broken fingers, deep cuts, burns and of course, back strains. In my new position, I can help realize safer worksites.
Q: What are your goals for your first year as Safety Director?
A: My goal in year #1 is to keep safety at the forefront of everybody’s minds. I am a true believer that the JHA is the most valuable tool in your toolbox. Most of the larger projects in Los Angeles require contractors and sub-contractors to have a safety person on their payroll assigned to that specific job. As an agent, I have been fortunate enough to meet many of these people. I plan on reaching out to as many of these safety folks as possible to share in their vision of safety and what they deem to be the biggest hazards on their jobs. I also want to be involved in their Job Hazard Analysis.
I will also be writing a monthly safety blog on different safety topics, and look forward to receiving feedback from our members.
Q: How do members report safety violations without their employer knowing? Will the union protect them?
A: That’s a good question that I’m sure many of our new and younger members have on their minds.
First, you should talk to your immediate supervisor. A lot of the times the supervisor is unaware of the hazard, and has a lawful obligation to fix the issue or suffer legal ramifications.
If that doesn’t work, members can always call me anonymously with any concerns or need for clarification. I take this new job very seriously. This isn’t a position to just go visit job sites. I have an obligation to do my best to help protect my brothers and sisters, and that is exactly what I intend to do. Here’s my contact information. I want to hear from you.
IBEW Local #11 Safety Director