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    American Society of Safety Professionals recognizes Steve Frost as Safety Professional of the Year

    June 07, 2022

    Construction has long been known as an industry that is synonymous with one word: tough. With physically demanding work often paired with long days and nights, it’s easy to assume all construction workers are both physically and mentally strong. But Steve Frost, site safety, health and environmental director in Portland, knows better. 

    Steve has dedicated his career to ensuring the safety of our teammates, partners and the public. In recognition of his contributions, the Columbia-Willamette chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) named Steve the 2022 Safety Professional of the Year (SPY). 

    In recent years, the construction industry has identified a critical aspect of safety that needs more attention: mental health. A 2020 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that construction has the second highest rate of suicide of the industries studied. The CDC found that on average, 45.3 out of 100,000 males in the construction industry die by suicide. 

    “Steve has taken one of the toughest topics not only in our industry but also in the world we live in today and has brought it to the forefront of our business,” says Keith McCoy, vice president – national safety. “He has raised awareness around the issue and helped give us the ability to discuss the subject of suicide and mental health among one another and with our 12,000 workers on every one of our projects. We are lucky to have Steve on our team!”

    Steve is passionate about advocating for mental health and dedicated to imparting his knowledge and training to coworkers. In the Northwest, Steve helps lead a local program that teaches employees about appropriate resources to leverage in mental health challenge or crisis situations.

    “People are recognizing that mental health and physical health need to be addressed holistically,” says Steve. “If we’re going to do a good job at safety, we need to address both topics. With the high rate of suicide in construction, mental health needs to be brought to the forefront.”

    Steve also leads Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) trainings for Balfour Beatty and industry associations. QPR is a nationally recognized educational program that helps participants learn the warning signs of suicide, common causes and how to seek help for someone in crisis.  

    “The QPR training teaches participants how to have an evidence-based conversation with people who may be facing a variety of crisis situations. And with the whole program, we’re also asking people who are in need of support not to stay silent, that if they need help to ask for it and we’ll have the resources for them.”

    The ASSP SPY award is awarded annually to an ASSP member who demonstrates outstanding achievement in occupational safety and health. Steve’s passion for people and dedication to making positive change in the construction industry has made him a respected and appreciated member of the ASSP community and a worthy recipient of the SPY award. Steve currently serves as the president-elect for his chapter and will take on the role of president in 2023. 

    “It’s great to be recognized by my peers for going above and beyond typical EHS duties. For me, it’s really an award for mental health and suicide prevention. I think the work shines through here,” says Steve. “None of what I do and have done would be possible without the support of our local and national leadership and teams. Truly amazing people and a place to call home.”

    Though Steve has played a leading role in raising awareness about the importance of mental health and suicide prevention in our company and industry, he believes that his work is far from finished. He plans to continue implementing mental health programming and encouraging others in the industry to do the same. Steve believes that through facilitating hard conversations and crisis intervention, we can reduce suicide rates in the industry. 

    Steve’s holistic approach to safety redefines what it means to be “tough” in construction. Calloused hands and steel-toed boots will always be outward examples of the toughness of our workforce in the field. But Steve has come to recognize that seeking support can be one of the toughest things of all, and that we can all help create an environment in which anyone who asks for help is met with care, compassion and effective support systems.