USF SafetyFlorida

Contact Us

University of South Florida
College of Public Health
USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program
13201 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., MDC 56
Tampa, FL 33612-3805

Hawkins Construction, Inc. Earns Sunshine State Safety Recognition Award for New Port Richey Sun Toyota

Kelly Garland 06/23/2011 11:13 am

Hawkins Construction, Inc. is eager to add on-site consultation to its safety culture. The Tarpon Springs-based construction management firm, which has a presence throughout the Southeast, utilized the service earlier this year as part of a pilot project--to see if and how on-site consultation would be valuable. Management found the experience to be so helpful that it intends for all of its Florida worksites to undergo the process.


Hawkins received its first USF SafetyFlorida on-site consultation earlier this year, when it built a Toyota dealership in New Port Richey. The six-month project involved clearing six acres of timberland, creating a retention pond and constructing a LEED-certified, tilt-up building with concrete panels. Safety director Don Ondrejcak and project manager Josh Spooner worked with USF SafetyFlorida's Jim Ulseth, who also brought a USF occupational nursing student to the worksite. Spooner says the visit and added insight from USF was helpful. "We're all about preventing injuries, and what they explained was how areas have the potential to harm and hurt workers." Spooner also adds that while it is good to have deficiencies identified, it is equally beneficial to know what you are doing well, which Ulseth pointed out during his visit.

The positive areas Ulseth found included how the company works with subcontractors, from its thorough safety research prior to hiring and weekly toolbox talks during construction, to its frequent worksite visits to ensure subs handle projects in a safe, compliant manner. "All it takes is for one person to move something we put in place, and it can become a hazard," says Ondrejcak.

A safe work environment is important to the company. Safety committee members who conduct unannounced site visits carry OSHA 1910 manuals for reference. "Our focus is on safety education, and safety training is important. If people don't know or don't understand why what they're doing is not safe, we want to explain it to them," says Ondrejcak.

Spooner and Ondrejcak agree it is nice to have an additional safety resource such as USF SafetyFlorida, and the company looks forward to using the service again. "It's another tool we can utilize," says Ondrejcak. "It was extremely beneficial."