Some pivotal academic and career decisions and a passionate interest in safety have helped shape health and safety professional Evan Angi’s progression through the ranks of his employer, Hamilton-based Walters Group.
In late 2017, he was appointed Field Service Health and Safety Manager, capping off a career which began in 2011 as a co-op student working for the steel fabricator/erector.
Along the way, Angi acquired skills and knowledge in successive positions as health and safety administrator, and health and safety coordinator.
He has worked at a number of sites such the Darlington Retube Waste Processing Facility in Bowmanville, Ont.
A National Construction Safety Officer and holder of the Gold Seal Certificate for Safety, Angi is responsible for coordinating and ensuring safety procedures at the steel fabricator’s onsite projects which can range from 20 to 30 at any given time.
Although the position entails a considerable amount of report writing and office work, Angi says he makes an effort to visit those sites on a fairly regular basis, even if there are some logistical challenges.
Currently, many of those projects are in downtown Toronto and that requires driving from his Welland home to Burlington to catch the GO Train.
What makes his work both challenging and interesting is that Walters erects “complex structures,” each with its own unique characteristics.
That requires preparing a safety plan specifically tailored to each building and one which has to be integrated with the contractors’ and clients’ own plans and procedures.
It’s a process which starts with the pre-bid submissions to the client documenting points such as the number of toolbox talks that will be conducted and the company’s safety record on other projects, says Angi.
Like many people making the transition from high school, he wasn’t entirely sure which path to take. The original plan was to enter the business world. After graduating from high school, Angi enrolled in Brock University’s business administration program.
The value of the program was that, after the first two years of general courses, students have to choose a specific division or “concentration” and Angi picked human resources management.
One of the courses he selected was occupational health and safety.
As part of the course content, his class conducted a hazardous assessment of a Staples store and warehouse.
“We took a look at forklift operations, use of compaction machines, material handling, housekeeping, aisleways/walkways, safety equipment and emergency response procedures.”
That exercise and the overall course content “opened my eyes” to a potential career in the occupational health and safety field.
“I enjoyed assessing how tasks are performed, their actual and potential hazards and making an impact on eliminating or controlling those hazards for the workers.”
His career decision was supported by his father who “echoed the importance of occupational health and safety in the workplace” and the opportunities in the field.
In 2011, Angi was able to channel the academic training into practice during an eight-month long co-op placement as health and safety administrator at a Walters project at a northern Ontario gold mine. Some of his duties included filing, archiving, and safety condition and action tracking.
At the end of that co-op session, Angi returned to university, but continued to work for Walters part-time. Then, in April 2012, he put his studies on hold to accept a temporary full-time position at a potash mine in Saskatchewan where Walters was erecting a headframe.
While the university’s official response to that postponement was ‘we don’t recommend it,’ Angi says he enjoyed the experience, learned a lot, was able to pay off outstanding academic loans, and maintained his connection with Walters.
“I worked under an ironworker who was also a construction safety officer,” says Angi, noting they had a good working relationship because both are from Welland.
In the winter of 2013 he returned to university to complete his last semester and was hired full-time permanent after that.
As Angi is only 29, he is asked about the reception he receives on construction site visits where his main point of contact are the site supervisors.
“Everyone is aware of the need for safety. But it also helps that they (the supervisors) know I have worked on sites.”
There is a right and wrong way to apply safety standards, says Angi, noting that in his dealings with those supervisors, he draws on the “soft skills” he learned while studying human resources management at university.