Safety First and Foremost: A Conversation with IUEC Local 25 President & Schindler Mechanic Hector Saldana

When we first met Hector Saldana, president of IUEC Local 25 and Mechanic-in-Charge (MIC) for Schindler Elevator Company at a new construction site just outside of Denver, he’d just geared up with a full set of personal protective equipment (PPE). He immediately asked us to do the same, as we were about to enter an active construction area. “I’ve been in this trade for approximately 17 years. Safety first and foremost for me,” he said.

From just outside the hoistway, he spoke with us about how important it is to have clear, direct communication with all of the mechanics and apprentices on his jobsite. He described weekly toolbox talks with a focus on being proactive as being at the forefront of his strategy. “What I always try to tell them, especially Monday mornings, is, ‘if you see something, say something.’ Don’t leave it for somebody else, especially if it’s a safety concern.”

IUEC Local 25 Denver currently has close to 600 members. Their territory covers all of Colorado, as well as some shared jurisdiction in Wyoming and Nebraska. Members also gather at the Local 25 headquarters in Sheridan, Colorado, to discuss ways to continue to work safely and avoid potential hazards on the job. “We all chit-chat – even though we might not all work for the same company, we work on the same equipment,” Hector said. It’s this shared, open, regular communication that helps keep everyone safe.

Aside from looking out for elevator constructors on the jobsite, Hector was quick to remind us about another responsibility that falls on all people working in the trade – keeping the riding public safe and confident when it comes to using elevators, escalators, moving walks, and other conveyance equipment. “You want the public to come up, just push a button get in, push the other button and get out safely. In and out. It is something we don’t want them ever to even think about.”

Hector emphasized that his most important job as an MIC and leader in his Local is to get his IUEC brothers and sisters home safe at the end of each day. “It doesn’t matter how fast they’re pushing us. They’re always going to push us, but I have to get those elevator constructors back home.”