After unofficially “retiring” a few years ago, long-time NUCA staffer and industry safety legend George Kennedy officially retired this summer from his position at NUCA.
“It’s been a long run, but it’s been fun, interesting, challenging, and exciting,” exclaimed Kennedy. “I learned a lot, and I met a lot of great NUCA members from around the country who are also my friends.”
Kennedy stepped down from his position as NUCA Vice President of Safety in July 2020. He served as NUCA’s in-house safety professional for more than 30 years.
“I’d like to think that my efforts and the efforts of all the NUCA members, safety instructors, and safety professionals have made a difference in the utility construction industry,” said Kennedy.
Over the years, Kennedy has taught our industry a wealth of information about safety on the jobsite. It is not an overstatement to declare that his decades of hard work and instruction on trench and excavation safety has saved hundreds if not thousands of lives and prevented even more injuries.
Kennedy created the NUCA Competent Person Training (CPT) and Confined Space Entry Training programs, instructing 600,000 participants over the years. NUCA’s CPT program is considered to be the best Competent Person training program in the construction industry. He also created the Train-the-Trainer program for NUCA instructors.
Kennedy is also responsible for creating the annual Safety Directors’ Forum, NUCA’s extensive “Toolbox Talks” safety briefing program in English and Spanish, and the author of Utility Contractor’s own “Safety Management” column. Finally, he is the author of “The Construction Foreman’s Safety Handbook,” published in 1996, focusing on those personnel who seek to ensure job site safety, OSHA compliance, and promote lower costs and greater productivity.
He has provided safety consultations to hundreds of NUCA members over the years. In 2013, the National Safety Council recognized his contributions by honoring him with its Distinguished Service for Safety Award. Finally, NUCA executives nominated Kennedy for the association’s We Dig America award, which he won and accepted at the 2016 NUCA Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Kennedy has represented the association and industry at OSHA forums and earned the respect of regulators for his years of experience and professionalism. He has regularly participated on the Common Ground Association’s Best Practices Committee for the last 20 years. Kennedy has organized NUCA’s Safety Directors Forum each year and led many of the program’s safety seminars.
Kennedy was instrumental in the 2016 creation of the utility construction industry’s top annual member-wide safety event, the NUCA Trench Safety Stand Down Week in June. His concept of a short stand-down from work so company safety experts and instructors could teach and remind their employees about excavation and jobsite safety has been expanded upon over the last five events.
So, what is next for this NUCA safety powerhouse? “I plan to take a break until the COVID-19 pandemic calms down after which I will be teaching NUCA Competent Person and confined space programs. I’m also planning to follow up on some safety management speaking opportunities,” said Kennedy.
“In addition to spending time with the grandkids and my wonderful wife Fran, I plan to spend my time riding my motorcycle, boating on Lake George, skiing, skeet and trap shooting as well traveling around this great country. Of course, there’s always the ‘honey-do’ list which I’ve already made some progress on,” joked Kennedy.
Kennedy holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering, is a Certified Safety Professional, and is also an OSHA instructor. His consulting business, Kennedy Safety Services, will remain a NUCA member and continue to offer NUCA training to select clients.
NUCA will continue its tradition of safety excellence. Kennedy remarked that he knows NUCA’s next safety professional will have as much help, assistance, advice and support from the members and NUCA staff as he did when he started 30 years ago.
This article was written by Robert Baylor, NUCA’s Director of Communications.