Construction Safety Week Spotlight: Billy Barajas

Nearly six years into his Webcor career, Billy Barajas' infectious enthusiasm for his work has only grown with each challenge resolved, relationship forged, and lesson learned.

May 6, 2024

Employee Spotlight

Few people can reflect on their life’s work and confidently say they’ve dedicated their careers to helping others—let alone to saving lives. Although rewarding, such work is often grueling, anxiety-inducing, and demanding in a way that overwhelms even the most resilient, unflappable people.

For Safety Manager Billy Barajas, however, it’s the only type of work that’s ever felt right. Prior to joining the Safety department in 2018, Billy was an on-call medical provider for Webcor, a role that followed previous stints as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and wild land firefighter. As a medical provider for Webcor employees, Billy spent his days traveling to LA-area projects such as Metropolis, AVEN South Park, and Four Seasons Private Residences to treat office and field employees who had suffered injuries or fallen ill.

Search And Rescue (SAR) team in training
Cedars Sinai ER with McCormick Ambulance

“As a solo responder, I’d travel on foot or in a medical vehicle to provide advanced medical treatment during high-risk operations like mat pours,” Billy says. “I also focused heavily on preventing heat illness amongst staff members while working closely with Webcor leaders such as Assistant Superintendent Scott Duclos, Superintendent Ricky Pasillas, and Safety Manager Gerardo Moreno. Their experiences taught me more about illness and incident prevention than I ever expected.”

Little did Billy know at the time, he was already essentially performing the role of a safety manager. Seeing the tremendous potential he embodied as a future Webcor safety leader, Safety Manager II Mike Hernandez and former Webcorians Ken Summers, Steve Ewing, and Jason Sellers offered him an opportunity he couldn’t refuse: to help keep Webcorians and their project partners safe as Webcor’s newest safety coordinator.

The rest was history. “Jason and Mike took me under their wing and initiated my training,” Billy says. “I immediately felt at home; the office and field had such a great family vibe that I loved. I was learning something new every day while doing what I’m most passionate about—helping others.”

Becoming a Webcorian

Today, Billy’s the on-site safety manager at Olympic & Hill, a Webcor Concrete (WCG) residential high-rise nestled in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Nearly six years into his Webcor career, Billy’s infectious enthusiasm for his work has only grown with each challenge resolved, relationship forged, and lesson learned.

“I never expected to join Webcor’s in-house Safety department,” he says. “Becoming a Webcorian was a really pleasant surprise, especially coming from a medical background.”

He started out as a safety coordinator at New Century Plaza (NCP), a historic renovation project that became his “make-or-break moment in the construction industry.” Less than two years into his new role, he found himself in completely unchartered territory when COVID-19 shut down the once-bustling city of LA. In what felt like a blink of an eye, NCP’s Safety team was tasked with quickly determining the appropriate Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health and safety protocols while learning to adjust to the “new normal” that defined the peak era of COVID-19.

“The pandemic was truly unforgettable,” Billy says. “Everyone was fully committed to NCP, doing their best to get through each day. The COVID-19 guidelines appeared to be in a constant state of flux; new information on the virus emerged daily. It was our responsibility to stay ahead of the curve and ensure everyone’s safety, both at work and at home.”

“From the beginning, it’s been a thrilling roller coaster ride. From working on retrofit projects to military bases, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to do what I do every day. I always keep my helmet from my previous job as a reminder of my roots and to constantly strive for excellence.”

Building Trust With Webcor Craft

Since joining Webcor’s Safety department, Billy’s learned that being a safety leader is more than just updating trainings, enforcing PPE, and keeping documentation in order. It’s taking the time to listen to and learn from the skilled professionals working tirelessly in the field and recognizing the immense value they bring, always pouring every ounce of energy they have into their craft.

Although he’d always felt it to an extent, his admiration for the gritty, relentless work ethic unique to field professionals soared to new heights upon joining Olympic & Hill—his first Webcor Craft project. For the first time, he was witnessing the complicated and taxing work Webcor Concrete’s experts regularly perform, such as three-day cycle operations, up close.

“Working with Webcor Concrete has really taught me the importance of respecting the dedication of our field personnel,” Billy says. “They work in sync with one another like well-oiled machines to get the job done efficiently. Without our field team, we wouldn’t be able to achieve anything.

“Meeting such incredible people and learning so much simply by helping has truly been a privilege. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with field experts, learn through hands-on experience, and observe the construction of a remarkable site in downtown LA.”

From the moment he stepped foot on the project site, Billy’s been committed to earning—and keeping—the trust of his Webcor Concrete team by going above and beyond to offer his support however and whenever needed. As someone who firmly believes that trust is the foundation for any lasting relationship, whether romantic, platonic, or professional, earning Webcor Concrete’s hard-won trust is his proudest Webcor-related accomplishment to date.

“I’m incredibly fortunate to work with colleagues who feel like family,” Billy says. “The most rewarding part of my day is getting hands-on, ‘breaking bread’ with my fellow workers, reviewing the day’s achievements and setbacks, and collaborating to resolve any issues.

“I never imagined that I’d work in construction one day, but my truest passions have always been helping others in need, taking on challenging tasks, and making my family proud. The safety career I’ve built here at Webcor fulfills all those desires—I’m so thankful to say I genuinely love what I do.”

If there’s one thing Billy hopes Webcorians take from Safety Week this year, it’s the understanding that working safely is everyone’s responsibility—not just the on-site safety leader’s.

“I find great value in promoting my motto ‘Build as One,” he says. “It’s a constant reminder that we can only construct these timeless sites and achieve our goals safely through teamwork.”