Construction Safety Week Spotlight: Ty’Asia Reynolds

In March, Ty'Asia Reynolds was promoted to safety coordinator—a testament to her growth as an up-and-coming safety leader that solidified her commitment to Webcor.

May 10, 2024

Employee Spotlight

When Safety Coordinator Ty’Asia Reynolds graduated high school in 2017, she set out to pursue what Gen Z-ers (and the millions of millennials who came before them) had long been assured was their only guaranteed ticket to success: a college degree.

A degree in what though, exactly? Like many 17-year-olds suddenly thrust into the world of impending adulthood, Ty’Asia had no real idea what type of career was right for her. Nevertheless, she proceeded to enroll in City College of San Francisco (CCSF), where she planned to fulfill her postgrad duty of obtaining an associate degree. Although she excelled early in her first semester, she felt herself losing steam as she approached the second. She just didn’t see the point of continuing.

She dropped out before the first semester ended. Without a backup plan, she had no idea what her next step was—but her mom did.

“My mom was quick to tell me, ‘You’re 17 years old. You need to be doing something. If you aren’t going to college, you need to be pursuing a trade,’” Ty’Asia recalls.

The conversation ignited the motivation she needed to get back on track and explore career possibilities she’d never before considered (or been encouraged to consider). She enrolled in CityBuild’s full-time pre-apprenticeship program while balancing two jobs at a shoe store and bedding store, often resorting to late-night swing shifts to accommodate her packed schedule. Although she was living at a shelter with an imposed curfew at the time, she managed to work out an extended curfew that fit her hectic work hours.

“I did that every single day until I turned 18 and became eligible for job placement with the union,” Ty’Asia says. “Eventually, I was placed at Moscone Expansion Center through CityBuild’s DC 16 union hall for drywall, finishers, painters, glaziers, and flooring.”

Over the next two years, she continued to work on various construction projects, then left the industry for a more stable but less fulfilling job in security before pivoting back to construction. In 2021, she joined the Biosolids Digester Facilities Project (BDFP), where she finally found her niche with Safety Manager Kendall Cantave and MWH Health & Safety Manager Jorge Torres as a safety intern. After nearly four years of constantly moving from one construction job to another, Ty’Asia valued the stability that came with shifting to safety’s administrative side, where she’d no longer have to wait for her next job placement the way she had as a drywall taper.

She began earning safety certifications and absorbing all the safety knowledge she could from Kendall and Jorge. Within a year, she was offered a full-time role as BDFP’s safety clerk. Two months ago, she was promoted to safety coordinator—a testament to her growth as an up-and-coming safety leader that solidified her commitment to Webcor.

“I love working for Webcor and hope to work here for the rest of my life,” Ty’Asia says. “For the first time, I’ve found something that’s more than just a job; it’s a career. After everything I’ve been through, it’s amazing to be earning the kind of money I am at 24 years old. It’s actually shocking to me. But I’m doing it, and I know it can only get better from here.”

Building a Career at Webcor

As BDFP’s safety coordinator, Ty'Asia's responsible for leading site tours, ensuring workers are following safety rules and regulations, and supporting the Safety department however needed, including onboarding new employees—a task that’s quickly become one of the most rewarding parts of her job.

“I’m usually the first person new team members meet, so it’s a great chance to start building relationships,” Ty’Asia says. “When you’re just getting started on a new project, you don’t really know anyone, which can be nerve-wracking. I take pride in the relationships I build with workers early on and the fact that so many of them remember me from their new hire orientation.”

That first-day-of-work uneasiness that sometimes overshadows what should be an exciting experience—venturing into a new role, project, and/or company—is one with which Ty’Asia’s intimately familiar. On her first day at BDFP, she recalls feeling “really, really insecure” as she braced herself for judgment and assumptions about her character and abilities from her older male colleagues. Once she met her teammates and learned about the JV’s exceptionally inclusive team culture, however, that anxiety quickly dissipated.

“There’s a stereotype that construction is full of rough, insensitive men, but BDFP has taught me that you’ll meet some really great people in this industry who will take you in as their own,” she says. “People really just mind their business. They come here to do their jobs just like I do. As someone who doesn’t look like anyone else in my office and comes from a background that most can’t relate to, that acceptance was really important.

“From the start, I’ve just wanted to feel comfortable being myself at work. The fact that I’ve met so many genuine people here has been amazing.”

A Webcor Safety Leader in the Making

For Ty’Asia, transitioning to safety has opened her eyes to not only the immense responsibility inherent in the safety side of construction work, but the power of her own tenacity. Although she clearly had an affinity for safety-related work and had earned her OSHA, CPR, and other basic safety certifications, she knew additional training and education would be essential to her continued advancement along this new career trajectory.

Last year, she returned to CCSF to pursue her associate degree and construction management certificate. This semester, she’s taking three classes, which she balances with a full-time schedule at BDFP. She’s enjoyed connecting the dots between lessons learned in the classroom and her own experiences in the field.

“Everything is starting to come together,” she says. “I have a lot of the experience, and now, I’m getting the education. I’m planning to start here and if needed, I’ll go back to school. It’s all about getting more certifications and letters next to my name.

“This whole experience has taught me that it’s never too late to learn and further your education. Keep exploring and challenging yourself—it’ll all be worth it.”

That relentless growth mindset most recently paid off with her promotion to safety coordinator in March, a role earned in part by confidently advocating for herself and all that she brings to the table.

“Closed mouths don’t get fed,” she says. “I’ve learned that you can’t wait for someone to just hand you what you want; you need to stand up for yourself. If you don’t, people will assume you’re comfortable where you are. I knew I wanted to take on more responsibilities, so I’m glad I spoke up.”

More than anything, Ty’Asia says, she appreciates the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Webcor’s given her to explore a new career path with a team as perfectly suited for her as BDFP’s. From her perspective, Webcor offered her a life-changing opportunity three years ago and hasn’t stopped championing her since.

“I’m so grateful to Webcor for believing in me and promoting someone like me,” she says. “After everything I’ve been through, I’m also just proud of myself for not giving up. I’ve worked hard to keep my past and current struggles from bringing me down. I just kept pushing forward, and things got easier.”

Safety Week Takeaways

Although Ty’Asia had always known that safety should be prioritized on a project site, she didn’t fully appreciate the weight of the department’s responsibility until she became part of the team herself.

“When you’re in Safety, you can’t just get up and do it every day without a care in the world,” she says. “We’re responsible for people’s well-being, and our hands are mixed in a lot of things that most people wouldn’t expect us to be involved with. It’s literally our job to make sure everyone makes it back home to their families.”

Since joining Safety, her perspective on the significance of appropriately worn personal protective equipment (PPE) in particular has shifted dramatically; up until then, it hadn’t fully resonated. What she once viewed as a standard obligation is now essential, life-saving equipment that she hopes more field professionals will learn to genuinely embrace.

"As safety leaders, we need everyone to understand that when we enforce PPE, we’re coming from the genuine standpoint of ‘I really don’t want you to get hurt or lose your life because you weren’t wearing this stuff,'" she says.

For Ty’Asia, amplification of PPE’s undeniable impact (and the dire consequences of going without it) is the most vital part of Safety Week. It’s one of the simplest ways field workers can protect themselves and help ensure their families don’t receive a dreaded call from Safety saying they’ve been critically injured—or worse.

“We’re not enforcing these safety rules and regulations for our health,” Ty’Asia says. “The PPE we distribute has been inspected so everyone can come to work, put it on, and perform their jobs safely. We need you to do your part because when you walk out your door every morning, your family expects you to come back in the same condition you left in.

“If something happens to you on the job, I’m going to feel like I failed you and your family. I’ll have to be the one to call them and say, ‘I’m sorry, but this happened to your loved one.’ I don’t want to ever be that person.”

After two years in the Safety department, Ty’Asia’s learned that it’s not a career that someone casually commits to. Those who pursue it deliberately chose a demanding career centered on taking care of others.

“One of the main reasons I’m drawn to the Safety department is that it’s genuine,” she says. “I’ve never met someone on this team who just sees this as a job. I’m so glad I ended up on this team and get to truly help people every single day.”