Construction Safety Week Employee Spotlight: Vanir Welcomes New Safety Manager, Karen Meistas, CHST, STSC

May 2-6, 2022 is Construction Safety Week. We’re closing out the week with an exciting announcement – the hiring of Karen Meistas, Vanir’s new Safety Manager. A California native, Karen has worked in the construction industry since 1996. After witnessing the serious injury of a coworker at a former employer, she decided to shift her primary career focus to the health and safety of construction professionals. The nature of that injury opened Karen’s eyes not only to the impact on the worker but on their family members, employee morale, the company’s loss of production and the need for case management for injuries and illnesses.

What drew you to Vanir?

The construction industry is a small world despite how big it is. I learned about Vanir through my husband Joe, who recently retired from San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD). I had met several Vanir employees at functions with SJUSD, including District barbecues and baseball games. Everyone I met was nice, fun and professional. When I saw Vanir was hiring a Safety Manager, I immediately applied. I am excited to be a part of the Vanir team.

What experience do you bring to the table?

I bring “life experiences” to the table. I feel I bring a realistic, thoughtful and practical approach to safety. I also take into consideration all aspects of the task, ask questions and provide feedback. I see myself as a resource to anyone with safety questions or concerns and pride myself on being open to receiving information, learning from others and effectively communicating my experiences and expertise. I am certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals with the construction health and safety technician and safety trained supervisor construction designations. . I am also an OSHA-authorized outreach trainer and an instructor for adult first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator.

Can you tell us a little about your new role? What are the qualities a Safety Manager needs to be effective?

My current role at Vanir is to review everything safety, offer guidance and reinforce our safety compliance. I am offering feedback about safety policies and procedures, making any additions or revisions to forms and/or documents and being a resource to Vanir and its clients. Qualities of an effective Safety Manager include the need for creative and critical thinking, taking a proactive approach, leading by example, encouraging and acknowledging participation, actively listening and communicating, promptly responding to safety matters, earning respect and demonstrating genuine concern for employee health and safety.

What does safety mean to you?

Safety means everything to me. Feeling “safe” is reassuring and peaceful without anxiety or worry. Safety should be instinctual but often it is a learned behavior. There are risks everywhere and knowing how to navigate those risks is extremely important to keep yourself and others free from harm. My goal is to provide education to others regarding safe practices in everyday life, not just while on a job site.