For Elizabeth Polheber, construction has always been a part of life. Her father owns a construction company and Polheber was learning the industry at job sites while she was growing up. When she went to college to study business, Polheber realized she still wanted to be a part of the industry, so she changed her major to occupational health and safety.
“In my job, I get to know our craft workers on a personal level,” Polheber said. “I like that I’m part of something that’s getting built where other people are going to find enjoyment out of it and they can use it.
“And I love it that in my job that I’m part of making sure people go home to their families at the end of every day.”
Polheber, 24, is a safety engineer for VJS Construction Services, where she ensures safety requirements are followed during projects.
“Lizzy has helped to be the necessary conduit needed to bring our construction crews and office staff together,” said Craig Jorgensen, VJS president. “She has enhanced communication from the office to ensure that all VJS construction crews are informed and knowledgeable of VJS happenings.”
Polheber revised VJS’s entire safety manual, finding ways to make it into a resource people at the company can rely on to learn about the latest in technology in the industry.
“Lizzy has had quite a busy couple of years at VJS. She’s brought true value to the existing VJS Safety Program. I know her strong leadership skills and enthusiasm for safety will continue throughout the years to come,” said Bruce Goranson, safety director at VJS Construction Services.
One of Polheber’s main duties is to build programs meant to keep employees safe. These include a program to reduce injuries by using stretching exercises at project sites; a policy to ensure all materials are brought to project sites using pallets, rolling carts or dollies; and the use of a video to inform workers about safety practices.
“Lizzy always brings a positive attitude. She believes in the best in people and wants to bring that out in them,” said Dan Nash, VJS superintendent. “Lizzy often meets with contractors and team members to listen to their plans and concerns. She is great at formulating a strategy that will work for all.”
Polheber doesn’t see safety solely as something that comes from enforcing rules on job sites.
“Safety in my position isn’t just being a police officer and pointing out things you’re doing wrong,” she said. “It’s also about what you’re doing right and letting you know you’re doing the right thing.”