McKinstry’s Sonny Kelley on Championing Safety

“I believe that safety should be a constant priority, whether on a job site or at home. By integrating safety values into our daily lives, we can more consistently make the right decisions.”

Sonny Kelley is a project superintendent and was recognized as McKinstry’s 2023 Safety Champion. Learn more about the work he leads and his efforts to strengthen safety in the workplace and beyond.

Learn More About Sonny

What is your role at McKinstry? How did you get here? 

I am currently a project superintendent and have been with McKinstry since 2012. I started as an apprentice, advanced to foreman and eventually earned my current position as superintendent. This progression was made possible through hard work, reliability and a commitment to safety.

What does success look like in your role?

Success in my role means ensuring that every worker goes home safely to their families each night. Additionally, it involves making sure projects are completed on time and within schedule. As a team leader, I strive to make the jobs of those in the field as efficient and straightforward as possible.

What is the most rewarding thing about your work?

The most rewarding aspect of my work is seeing a project completed with flawless, high-quality installations. I believe this level of excellence helps McKinstry build trust with general contractors, encouraging them to choose us for future projects.

June is National Safety Month. As a McKinstry Safety All-Star, can you share a recent example where your safety efforts made a significant impact and how it reinforced your commitment to safety?

I recently worked on a job in Central Washington where we needed to remove some angle iron supports for generator stacks. These stacks would vibrate in the wind, eventually shearing bolts and causing the angle iron to fall. Our task was to safely remove all the stack bracing, add structural steel to the enclosure and replace the angle iron with aircraft cable.

I instructed the team to go up in the lift and double-check all the upper bolts securing the angle iron to the stacks. We had work to do below, and I wanted to ensure nothing could fall on the team working underneath. This experience reinforced my commitment to safety. Having worked with these colleagues for many years, I know most of their significant others and children. Spending long hours together, they become like a second family. As someone with a wife and kids, I deeply value ensuring everyone gets home safely to be with their loved ones.

How has your personal journey influenced your approach to safety? What personal values or beliefs underpin your dedication to workplace safety?

With over 20 years in construction, I have witnessed many great safety practices as well as some unfortunate incidents. These experiences have significantly shaped my perspective on safety. I believe that safety should be a constant priority, whether on a job site or at home. By integrating safety values into our daily lives, we can more consistently make the right decisions.

I also advocate for taking a moment to assess any situation, ensuring that my team and I identify the safest way to complete a task. Involving everyone in this process is crucial; the more minds and ideas we have, the better the solutions we can develop.

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