Construction Safety Week – Worker Profile

Name: George Baysmore

Age: 51

Home borough: Brooklyn

Job: Safety

To kick off Construction Safety Week, Building Skills New York sat down with George Baysmore, who has worked in the industry for 11 years, starting out as a fire guard on a jobsite at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He has been focused on safety, in one manner or another, ever since. And we talked to him about what he does all day and how that changed due to the pandemic.

Q: What are your main responsibilities?

A: PPE is PPE no matter what language, what country it comes from. You’ve got to wear your hard hat. You’ve got to wear your goggles,  your construction boots. You have to do these things. Whether you’re a fire guard or the foreman of the company, you still have to abide by PPE.

That’s my main job here. Making sure that hard hats are worn, making sure that the masks are worn, which is the N95, and making sure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed do.

I was out of work for a whole year because of this COVID. I was offered the job with Building Skills; I was so excited I was like: ‘Yes! Work!’ Then they explained to me I’m going to be doing what I normally do I was like: ‘Great, I know what I need to do.’

Q: How has that changed as a result of the pandemic?

A: Eleven years ago, there was no COVID. But in certain areas you did have to wear a mask. Welders and fire guards work with them. If we’re doing sheet rock you need a mask, also if you’re doing any type of digging any time of confined space. You have no idea what you’re dealing with dust, rust anything that can get into your lungs.

People need a kick in the butt. Because everyone knows that were dealing with COVID-19. It’s not over. My job is to make sure these guys are safe, wearing their masks, wearing their helmets. It’s not easy. It’s uncomfortable; they hurt your ears and they restrict you from breathing a little bit. I understand that no one likes it, but we’ve got to deal with it.

I am everyone’s dad. I have my own three children and then I have other children. Because they need that sternness.

Q: Is it hard to keep people in line – even if it’s for their own health and safety?

A: It hasn’t been easy. They call me Officer George. I’m not here to win a popularity contest. I’m not here to be your friend. I’m here to do a job and go home safely. I want them to be able to go home and not go to the hospital. I have a few guys here who understand what I have to do, and what they do is they give me a little encouragement.

Q: What do you want your fellow workers to know?

A: You want to do the best thing you can do to save your life. PPE is awesome. Two decades ago, what? They had tin helmets, and they were made of tin. Anything can go through tin, but they didn’t know. They had no idea. You want a paycheck, so you do what they have to do. But your life is your life and you’ve got to take care of it. Safety is everything.

Baysmore’s employer, Carl Curatola, president and founder of Labor Control Associates LLC, is a licensed site safety manager, said that even before the COVID crisis, safety was a thankless position, from the workers’ point of view. But he thinks Baysmore’s work is critical, explaining:

“His main role is just making sure people are keeping distance If possible, unless they’re partnered, everyone has face covering and follows protocols at break time…Maybe no one gets COVID, some might say it was because of him, others might say it would have happened anyway. I think it’s better be safe than sorry on a construction site, and it’s money well spent.”