Women in Construction Week | Spotlight on Elise Brewer

March 9, 2021

HazTek Safety Professional Elise Brewer says, “From the time I was about 5 years old, and because my dad was in construction for many years, my goal was to ‘be a builder when I grow up’ — I’ve said that a million times in my life!” Elise began working in the construction industry back in 1976, working as a receptionist for an apartment building construction company in Little Rock, Arkansas, where her supervisors got her involved in all aspects of the business, including HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. Since then, Elise has worked in accounting, human resources, project controls, construction specialty sales, and safety. She has worked in industrial and commercial construction, oil and gas, manufacturing, and general industries. She’s had the opportunity to travel and work in numerous states throughout her career and says that she’s met some amazing people over the years.

Elise has worked construction in the oil fields of North Dakota, including a rail facility and several other pipeline projects. She traveled throughout the state doing safety and project controls and learned a lot about pipeline construction during that time. While it was very cold, the work was very rewarding. During the oil boom, it was often difficult to find a place to stay — Elise would bet that she’s only one of a few women who can say that she spent several nights in a monastery!

Elise also had a job on a massive $4.8 billion green construction site in Tennessee that had over 100 contractors and 3,500 contractor workers. Her responsibilities included everything from vetting the bidders and tracking leading and lagging safety indicators to reporting to the client and training. In addition, she was responsible for organizing safety incentive luncheons and giveaways for those 3,500 workers. It was on this job that she met her most impressive mentor — the most fair and ethical man that she has ever worked for, so far. Elise says that her mentor gave her opportunity after opportunity to shine and he encouraged her to finish her degree.

Although Elise had several certifications in safety, an AAS degree in business administration, an AS in business management, and she had completed three semesters in construction management, life got in the way of her obtaining a bachelor’s degree, one of her life goals. So, at age 55, she decided to complete her bachelors’ degree in occupational safety and health. Elise managed to graduate in two semesters with a 4.0, all while working 60 hours per week. She’s very proud of that accomplishment. Her next goal is to get her ASP certification and then her CSP!

Back in the 1970s, Elise had been involved with the Little Rock chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and she recently rejoined NAWIC as a member of her local chapter. She says that it’s a wonderful organization that provides great camaraderie and has excellent resources. For women who are considering going into safety, Elise suggests: “Get a degree in safety, if at all possible. If not, work toward getting as much education and real-life experience as you can, even if you’re not in a safety role to begin with. Knowledge is power — and powerful! Realize from the start that you have to have tough skin at times, both as a woman in construction and in the safety world in general. Safety people are not always the most popular people on site but you can overcome that with fairness, a pleasant attitude, and integrity. Never let anyone tell you that you CAN’T! Remember, it isn’t who is going to let you, it’s who is going to stop you! You get what you focus on, so focus on what you want and go for it — and be the very best that you can be!”

We thank Elise for her commitment to safety and all of the knowledge that she brings to our organization.

In honor of Women in Construction Week, HazTek is featuring several of our safety professionals who work out in the field.

The National Association of Women in Construction created Women in Construction (WIC) Week to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry and as an occasion for the thousands of NAWIC members across the country to help raise awareness of the growing role of women in the construction industry and the opportunities available to them.

HazTek Inc. is a leading provider of comprehensive safety management services with a mission to enrich the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, our customers, and our communities.

Credit to: NAWIC