Our People Making a Difference: Paul Ferrara, Senior Safety Lead

Apr 25, 2024 9:15 AM ET
"Our People Making a Difference" with an image of two people near a waterfall

Our people making a difference is a series featured throughout Owens Corning’s 2023 Sustainability Report.

Although he has only been with Owens Corning for about six years, Paul Ferrara has traveled quite a bit throughout the company’s U.S. operations. Beginning as an intern at a plant in Starr, South Carolina, Paul also participated in a development program in Denver, Colorado, acted as an interim EHS Leader in Compton, California, and served as EHS Lead in Kansas City, Kansas. Now in Ocala, Florida, Paul has been instrumental in bringing Owens Corning’s recently acquired OC Lumber™ plant up to Owens Corning safety standards. With a broad-based understanding of Owens Corning operations, Paul brings considerable insight into his role, some of which he shares here.

On recognizing the need for mutual trust in the plant

It doesn’t matter what position you’re in. You could be the Plant Leader, facilities, maintenance, or an entry-level position — it doesn’t matter. We’re all just trying to work, come home safe, see our families, and enjoy life. Everyone wants to have a quality of life. If we as a company can give that to them, everything else will fall into place. That’s been proven. Building trust with the employees is the number one thing. If you’re open with them, they’ll be open with you. So I just talk with them, and when you work as a team, that trust just ends up flowing, and without that, the programs won’t do anything.

On balancing classroom-based instruction with practical training 

For our first safety training in Ocala, we actually went offsite. We got breakfast, snacks, drinks — the normal things you do at a safety training. And before we even talked about incident reporting and PPE and all that, we asked about their perception of safety. But we also need the floor focus, not just in a classroom. In a classroom, they walk out, it might be gone, but out on the floor, seeing it in person, you really get the feel of what safety is when those OC Lumber™ boards are coming out. So it’s important to walk them through that and spend time with people one-on-one. Someone might get it in 10 minutes. It might take someone else three days to understand what’s going on, and that’s OK. If we put our time into our people, it will be way better for us in the long run.

On the support provided by Owens Corning leadership 

I think the best thing about Owens Corning is that we’re trying to improve, even though we’re considered world class. If we said we’re good where we’re at, we would slip. Companies that don’t innovate, fail. They become stuck in their ways. We’re always trying to figure out how we can change, especially with new initiatives like the Safer Together campaign. All of those are great because we’re trying to get to the people and make it resonate with them. My Plant Leader is very supportive, boots on the ground. He’s out there with me analyzing everything, and from a safety leader standpoint, that’s huge. You can’t really do anything unless you have that buy-in at every level.

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