As Turner Construction Co. leads construction of a large data center near Omaha, more than 20 trade partners and 1,500 workers can be found on the job site. Their Black Hard Hat Program teaches leadership and safety skills to nominated individuals, including Omaha Foundation Supervisor Kyle Cravens and Lincoln Flatwork Supervisor Luis Izaguirre.

“The biggest part I got out of the program was knowing who my people are, being able to communicate with them and knowing how they’re going to react to the way I teach them,” said Cravens about being one of five individuals selected for the program.

While there’s a lot of safety information within the program, an initial test helped to identify each worker’s personality.

“By knowing their personalities and how they work, I know better how to interact with them,” Izaguirre said.

Both Cravens and Izaguirre said they gained communication skills by participating in the program.

“It’s all about safety and leadership, and it teaches you how to reward your crew when they do the right thing,” Izaguirre said.

The program participants get together every Thursday to walk the job site to identify good and bad things, such as potential safety issues.

“I’ve always kept the mentality where it’s my job to take the extra steps in making sure we do our job right,” Cravens said.

Along with keeping an eye out for safety, the two say they can bring up any concerns during their weekly meetings. They will serve one year with the Black Hard Hat Program before a new wave of employees are selected. The work on the data center has been happening for approximately 18 months and is expected to continue about another year.