HardHat Heros – Roman Leshchinskiy

We met up with Roman Leshchinskiy for coffee and a conversation about life, construction, technology, and fun. Roman is a trailblazer in the construction safety and data field, but more importantly he’s a friend, a husband, and a father. 

Hubert: Thank you for meeting up with me, it’s great to see you again. Tell our audience, who are you? 

Roman: To boil it down to one thing, I am a man who strives to be better than the man he was yesterday. 

Hubert: Very stoic. Tell me more about your past, formative years, and how you found yourself here.  What sparked your interest in construction, specifically construction safety? 

Roman: Growing up as a first-generation immigrant in New York, seeing the lengths my father took to financially support his family instilled a foundation of hard work in me. While watching TV as a child, influential figures such as Zorro and Spiderman quickly became role models, which established my a desire to protect people. When I was 17, I was inspired to embody those characteristics, and set a goal to become an EMT when I turned 18. 

“When you have the power to help, but you don’t and then bad things happen. They happen because of you.” – Spiderman 

During my years in college, I met a friend who I bonded with over our mutual professional careers as EMTs. However, my colleague wasn’t working on ambulances, he was working on construction sites. I was extremely intrigued, and I love a good challenge…

I started working as an Onsite Health and Safety Technician. I got to bring my medical background and expertise into the world of construction safety. I felt an additional layer of empathy for the people in the field, given how hazardous the nature of the industry is. The experiences I had in the field in combination with the amazing mentors I met along the way motivated me to know more about the safety code and the psychology of safety. Which led me to my next goal of acquiring my Site Safety Manager DOB License. 

Hubert: Being an immigrant myself I can definitely relate. It’s been a privilege to watch your journey over the past couple of years from the side. Has there been a favorite or most memorable project you’ve been a part of? What’s the story?

“People don’t work for companies, they work for people.” – Don Carr 

Roman: While I was working on the Coney Island Hospital project, I quickly learned that there is no one hero that keeps the jobsite safe. It has and always will be, people taking care of people that keep the jobsite safe. If the laws and codes are the skeletal system of safety, communication is the nervous system. Building relationships with the people on the projects, listening and learning the alternative perceptions of individuals then meeting on common ground together was how I wanted to influence safety. 

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Then, I learned of the administrative side of safety. Where in some ways can feel to have an antagonist relationship with the humanistic side of safety. The long hours spent doing administrative work got me thinking and researching technology, specifically how to design a system that can automate the multitude of repetitive processes in the field. Thus, I taught myself coding and later completed a Coding Bootcamp specialized in Data Science. Solving my administrative efficiency issues, I was able to get back to the humanistic side of safety. 

Hubert:  What advice would you give to someone looking to get their foot in the door in construction / safety?

Roman: There are a few one liners I live by, here are some of them: 

Urgency is a trauma response. Unless it is life or death, urgency is not effective. 

No one is untouchable, you can learn something from anyone. 

Listen with the intent to understand, instead of reply. 

Practice patience, emotional regulation, and altruism. All easier said than done, but again all you have to do is focus on being better today, than you were yesterday. 

Hubert: What else are you passionate about?

Roman: I am passionate about my wife, stepson, and daughter. They are the support system that power my engine to keep pushing beyond my limit. 

Hubert: You’ve been monumental in helping roll out SkillSignal at one of the biggest GCs in the country, what are some tips you have for teams looking to introduce a new technology?

Roman: Construction is one of the oldest professions in the world, and there will always be intelligent and seasoned individuals that are not used to technology. With that being said, technology should not have a learning curve. Implementation of technology should be an over-communicated and gradual process performed at a rate catered to the audience it is assisting. It should be led by a supportive and patient group of people. 

Hubert: What are some of the most significant changes you’ve observed in construction safety practices during your career?

Roman: The tremendously effective shift from safety policing to safety mentoring. I cannot stress the importance of the varying management styles based on the situation. When dealing with life or death, you lead with control and direct orders. When dealing with anything else, you lead with influence and suggestions. 

Hubert: What are the biggest challenges you currently face in construction safety, and how are you addressing them?

Roman: Work culture is a huge challenge in any industry. Putting production above people’s lives. I address this by building relationships founded on honesty, respect, and positive reinforcement with the individuals that I manage by communicating with one another as equals. 

Hubert: As technology evolves, what are the top tools or innovations you believe will transform construction safety in the next five years?

Roman: Definitively AI, however it will all depend on how it will be utilized. I hope it will be utilized with positive reinforcement in mind and not as a punitive tool. 

Hubert:  If you had a day completely off from work and no obligations, how would you spend it?

Roman: Use the extra time to be with my wife, stepson and daughter. Otherwise, I would either practice parkour, read my sci-fi fiction novels, or go on a joyride on my motorcycle to the mountains. 

Hubert: Who in the industry do you admire, and what have you learned from them?

Roman: There are so many that I admire and all played a role in shaping me into the person and manager I am today. 

Kimberly Rollock and Harold Greene during my time at Pivot Onsite Innovations, for their extremely compassionate, respectful and honest approach to managing. 

Steven Pirovolikos and John Fuller during my time at Structure Tone, for mentoring me in managing construction safety through positive reinforcement and coaching. Giving me the autonomy and trust to make my own path in the industry by following my passions in data science to help our colleagues in the field. 

Vincent Graniello also during my time at Structure Tone, for inspiring my love for data science and automation. 

Sebastien de Ghellinck at SkillSignal for demonstrating how technology can launch the construction industry to the next level. 

George Hauck during my time at Total Safety Consulting and Structure Tone, for being a true role model, believing in me, offering encouragement, and demonstrating that integrity and dedication pave the way for success in our field. 

Hubert: In what ways has adopting new safety software, like SkillSignal, transformed the efficiency or effectiveness of your safety compliance practices?

Roman: During my tenure at Structure Tone, collaborating with SkillSignal has revealed that having a patient team to support you during the transition from paper to digital can significantly transform your job site. By optimizing the time spent on administrative hazard controls and digitizing processes, teams can stay organized and re-focus on establishing and nurturing relationships in the field. This, in turn, boosts morale and compassion, ultimately contributing to a faster and safer job site. 

Hubert: How important is mobile accessibility in safety management tools, and how has this feature in solutions like SkillSignal helped you manage your team more effectively?

Roman: Mobility is the name of the game in construction. The fact that construction sites can change every day, let alone every hour, demands workers to be able to adapt in the moment. The freedom of mobile accessibility allows that same adaptability that is needed in the field in this fast-paced day and age. 

SkillSignal assisted me in managing a multitude of projects from the palm of my hand while I was on the move between project to project. The ability to increase my capacity to help more projects in a smaller amount of time has proven most valuable. 

Hubert: What are your goals and ambitions? What do you want your professional legacy to be? 

Roman: Career wise, I want to be part of the movement that takes Construction Safety into the future through AI, software engineering, safety applications, and generating valuable data that tells a story that will proactively stop an incident before it happens. That way a worker can continue hugging their spouse, or raising their kids or walking their dog no matter what happens at work. I believe the efficiency of technology holds the key to that future and I would like to be a part of it. 

Life wise, nothing means more to me than being an attentive father for my beautiful newborn daughter, a wonderful step son, and a supportive partner to my amazing wife. They are my motivation to rise each day and strive to be the best I can be. They are always my priority. 

Hubert: One thing I’ve always admired about you is your curiosity and ability to learn new things. You’re an excel master, and a data wizard. Tell me about the program you’ve built for your previous company.

Roman:I love that you asked me this question. Thank you. During my time at Structure Tone, at any given moment the Safety Department was responsible for a large number of jobs of varying workforces and square footage. A colleague and I were responsible for generating an extensive safety report for each project, each project manager and each area manager with the ultimate goal to paint a detailed picture of all the hard work our project teams were doing and create a reward system that would recognize that work. 

Unfortunately, this process kept my colleague and I busy for 2 weeks on a monthly basis, in addition to the sporadic times our project teams required our reports to showcase data insights in their meetings. This manual process was draining and repetitive. Since everyone wanted this report ASAP, that’s what I decided to call my program, Adaptive Safety Analytics Program.

I self-studied coding and combined it with advanced Excel tools to create a platform where data from various different softwares could interact and generate the reports we needed in the field. Two weeks of work became one click and 4 hours. This is where my passion was born, a bridge between construction safety, data, and technology. 

Hubert: Roman, thank you for this, it’s been a pleasure. Tell our audience where they can reach you?

Roman: Thank you SkillSignal for having me! You can reach me anytime via: 

Email: Leshchinskiy.R@gmail.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/roman-leshchinskiy/

Are you interested in being featured? Do you want to nominate a Hardhat Hero? Email me at: Hubert@skillsignal.com and let’s talk! 

HardHat Heros – Roman Leshchinskiy

We met up with Roman Leshchinskiy for coffee and a conversation about life, construction, technology, and fun. Roman is a trailblazer in the construction safety…

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