WIC Week Profile: Site Safety Coordinator Adriana Mendoza

By: Lewis Team

As an undergrad at Washington State University, Adriana Mendoza majored in kinesiology with the aim of becoming a physical therapist. But an internship at a PT clinic her senior year in the Tri-Cities opened her eyes to underlying safety challenges across a variety of industries.

She’d see many repeat patients—often from the same construction sites—dealing with repetitive stress injuries. Shoulder ailments were the most common problem, a symptom of poor training.

“It was really unfortunate to be on the physical therapist’s side,” says Adriana, now a site safety coordinator with Lewis. “When these people really just want to go home and play with their kids and they’re in so much pain from the job that’s supposed to be providing for them. I wanted to know how to keep people out of the clinics in the first place.”

After getting a master’s in occupational safety and health, she worked in an industrial-hygiene safety role at Hanford before transitioning to the construction field in Seattle. She started with Lewis in 2022.

Adriana gives a recent safety talk at Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Jack McDonald Building.
Adriana gives a recent safety talk at Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Jack McDonald Building.

As part of her job, Adriana regularly gives safety talks to craft workers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Jack McDonald Building and Building Cure. When she first started, she worried people wouldn’t be able to hear her. It was noisy, after all. She also assumed others might judge her for being a woman, or assume she lacks confidence because she’s soft-spoken. After hearing her concerns, the site superintendent handed her a microphone, which others were already using.

“When it comes to safety, if you truly show that you care about what you’re saying, the other stuff doesn’t really matter,” Adriana says of the perceptions she originally had and what she’s learned. “It taught me that people on the team are going to look out for you, especially if you speak up about any challenges you might have.”

One of the ways she serves as an ally to other women in the A/E/C industry is to ensure that her jobsites have proper-fitting PPE and fall protection in women’s sizes, and that the safety cabinet is well-stocked ahead of time. Safety vests that aren’t too baggy are in high demand.

“If your PPE doesn’t fit, it’s not working properly,” Adriana says. “When someone starts on our job, I ask, ‘What do you need and how I can I support you? What are your sizes? What are your preferences here?’ It makes them feel more welcome. It’s making sure they know I have their back.”

Throughout Women in Construction Week 2024, we’ll be highlighting the stories of women from across Lewis who are making a difference in the industry. Follow along on the Lewis blog and social media (LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook) all week for more.