OSH Generations is about family and the safety profession. Many OSH professionals have parents or children who are also in the profession. Our members share their stories of the people who influenced them to enter the safety profession or those who they inspired to become safety professionals. Here are the stories of Pat McCon, CSP, CHMM, CFPS, Iris McCon, COHN, and Brian McCon, members of our Northern Ohio Chapter.
Iris, Brian and Pat McCon are all members and past presidents of the Northern Ohio Chapter. All three got into OSH through back doors.
Pat joined the volunteer fire department in Pennsylvania when he turned 18, following in his father’s footsteps. He didn't really try hard to get a full-time firefighter job since his ambition was to work in the steel mill and be a lifetime volunteer. It didn’t work out that way.
In 1981, Pat was promoted to the plant fire protection department at the massive Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. plant in Aliquippa, PA. By this time, he was a Pennsylvania state fire academy field instructor, and the company needed someone to train the 600 members of its plant fire brigades in the then-new OSHA Subpart L requirements. The plant began to close a year later.
After a stint at several part-time jobs, including serving as an EMT for the local private ambulance service, a job opened up at the Insurance Services Office. Five years later, Jones & Laughlin (then rebranded as LTV Steel Co.) called Pat back to work to be the plant fire marshal at the Cleveland Works. Over time, his responsibility changed from fire protection to safety, becoming a safety engineer then area safety manager, and finally going the environmental route by supervising water treatment plants. He concurrently spent another 20 years as a part-time firefighter/EMT in Portage County.
By 2001 the steel company was again in financial trouble, heading toward bankruptcy and perhaps closure. Zurich Insurance was looking for someone with manufacturing, fire protection and safety experience. This was the right place at the right time. Pat has been at Zurich ever since, serving as senior risk engineer and manufacturing industry practice leader.
Meanwhile, Pat’s wife, Iris, was also taking a roundabout route. A registered nurse, Iris had to forego hospital nursing because of a back injury she suffered during nursing school. She spent time as a doctor’s office nurse, but that role was neither personally nor financially rewarding. She landed opportunities to serve as an occupational health nurse at the construction sites now known as “Power Alley,” the two units of the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station and the coal-fired Bruce Mansfield Power Plant along the Ohio River.
She then took a job with many hats at the Mackintosh-Hemphill foundry in Midland, PA. There she served as the plant nurse, the personnel manager and the safety manager. From there it was off to Greenville, PA, to the RD Werner Co. ladder manufacturing plant. When Pat was offered the job in Cleveland, she naturally moved along. She was hired as an occupational health nurse at Matrix Essentials, which later became a Bristol-Myers Squibb location and finally ended up with L’Oreal.
Nearly 25 years later, she continues to work as the occupational health nurse, but injuries are rare, so she spends a lot of time helping the safety director and performing human resources functions.
Iris and Pat’s youngest son, Brian, was a diesel mechanic. After a horrible vehicle crash, it became apparent that he wouldn’t be able to continue servicing big trucks. He took advantage of his physical rehabilitation time to complete his degree and consider his career options. After graduating from Youngstown State, he worked in economic development with the city. He then took a claims adjusting job with Crawford and Co., quickly rising to the position of manager at the Atlanta-area office.
When he moved back to Ohio, one thing led to another. Zurich was looking for someone with insurance and fleet knowledge, leading to two McCons working for Zurich as risk engineers.
Brian is the past president of ASSP’s Northern Ohio Chapter. Iris was president a few years ago and serves as the scholarship coordinator. Pat was president in the 1990s and works on the programs/education committee.
All three “blame” ASSP for providing the networking and educational opportunities that led to successful careers.