Safety Week Spotlight: Dora Orozco

When Safety Manager Dora Orozco joined Webcor’s W Hotel project, she had no idea she’d found the company where she would eventually launch her long-term career.

May 3, 2023

Employee Spotlight

When Safety Manager Dora Orozco joined Webcor’s W Hotel project team as a union laborer 25 years ago, she had no idea she’d found the company where she would eventually launch her long-term career. After brief stints at Atkinson Construction, Abbott Electric, and SJ Amoroso Construction between 1995-97, Dora accepted Webcor’s offer to join the company’s concrete division in November 1997.

“My husband’s family connected me to the construction industry,” Dora shares. “His cousin, Oscar De La Torre, is currently the business manager of the Northern California District Council of Laborers. He offered me the opportunity to join the Local 261 union, where I was connected to Atkinson, Abbot, SJ Amoroso, and finally the W Hotel project at Webcor. I never would have guessed I’d end up creating a career there.”

As a laborer journeywoman in Webcor’s concrete division, Dora spent those early days on the W Hotel project pouring concrete, striping form work, organizing the work area, leading mat pours, rigging, and managing extensive traffic control, among myriad other demanding tasks. It was a nonstop, fast-paced time of her career that was filled with major challenges, many of which were exacerbated by being the only woman on the project site.

“It was a bit intimidating to not know how to do several things, e.g. how to use tools and equipment, on top of being the only woman on-site,” she says. “The work was physically demanding—I sometimes caught my coworkers looking at me as if I were in the wrong place.  However, all those challenges inspired me and played a part in my growth into who I am today. Although being a woman in a man’s world is difficult, I’ve been fortunate enough to find great mentors who have taught me a great deal over the years. Several superintendents, foremen, and colleagues have supported and believed in me—without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

As her exposure to the various facets of construction work continued over the next several years, she developed a growing interest in safety and decided she’d do whatever it took to transition to the department permanently.

“Learning everything at once when I was first starting my journey into safety was the biggest challenge of my career,” she says. “However, it’s been even more rewarding to know that I’m contributing to Webcorians’ safety and that they know they can count on me. I’m very proud of the impact I’ve made at the individual level and that I’ve earned Webcor’s support.”

Today, Dora manages safety efforts on Mission Rock Parcel F and holds certifications in teaching/training employees in traffic control, Fall Protection for the Competent Person, OSHA 30, Electrical Safety, and Certificate Excavation & Tech. Since officially joining Webcor’s Safety team in 2017, she’s continued to nurture the trust that’s grown between her and all Webcorians with whom she’s had the opportunity to work. Aside from ensuring project team members are properly educated on safety practices, stay actively engaged in available safety trainings, and have implemented them in their everyday activities, Dora’s passionate about instilling a sense of psychological safety on project sites. This includes amplifying the urgency of comprehensive mental health awareness, particularly in an industry as deadline-driven and physically/mentally taxing as construction.

“The type of work we do requires their complete attention and focus to prevent accidents and injuries,” she says. “It’s extremely important that workers come to the job site in the right state of mind and walk away from it knowing that they’re appreciated.

Treating her colleagues with kindness and respect has long been a natural strength of Dora’s, who fondly remembers the superintendent who offered her first role in Safety expressing his appreciation for how she addressed everyone around her.

“Seeing my colleagues come to the job site happy because they know they’re working in a safe environment is one of the greatest rewards of my role,” she says. “It’s also gratifying to know that they respect and listen to me as a safety manager, especially after years of having to speak up for myself in certain professional situations. Thankfully, I’m armed with the confidence that I offer the type of expertise that only decades of experience brings you.”

When envisioning the future of safety in construction, she hopes to see a dramatic shift in owners’ and developers’ attitudes toward prioritizing safety above all other factors. It’s imperative that owners and developers embrace the culture of active caring and Speaking Up for Safety that Webcor’s fostered over the last several years—particularly when a small team is working as efficiently as possible to stay on top of the owner’s schedule.

“At Webcor, we will never sacrifice employee safety for the sake of schedule,” Dora says. “It’s so important that owners and developers across the industry are aligned with us on that principle. Workers should view the job site as a place where they know their safety will be prioritized. When we take care of people, they give back to us 100 percent.”