Colorado Public Works Journal, Summer 2023

58┃ Colorado Public Works Journal INDUSTRY INSIGHTS feature by Sean O’Keefe Celebrating 20 years in construction in May 2023, Perry Silvey, CHST of BT Construction got his start in an entry level position as an equipment operator installing underground utilities and worked his way up. He spent time in estimating, project management, and operations before settling on a career in construction safety. Today, as a Safety Manager for BT Construction (BTC), a civil utility contractor serving Front Range Colorado, Silvey has found his sweet spot. “There are a lot of ways to work in construction. My passion is helping people, being a resource to others, and seeing the positive impact of my work,” says Silvey, who has been with BTC since 2019. As one of Colorado’s leading underground contractors, BTC delivers underground infrastructure for wet utilities through opencut and trenchless projects. BTC employs approximately 200 professionals in Colorado and recently announced a merger and expansion with a drilling operation in Utah. As a Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST), Silvey shares that the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) recognizes his dedication and competency in performing health and safety activities that prevent construction illnesses and injuries. BCSP is a non-profit corporation leading the charge in setting and certifying technical competency for safety, health, and environmental practitioners since 1969. Silvey has been certified since 2017, which required passing a competency exam and maintaining continuing education credits in the years since. “BTC owns more than 100 trench boxes,” continues Silvey of the essential equipment used to protect workers entering an excavation. “We make sure to always ‘Think Inside The Box’, a slogan that was developed by the Trenching and Excavation Safety Taskforce (TEST) in 2019. BTC has been a huge supporter of the taskforce. We all see trench safety as the most important aspect of our work.” Serving municipal government and water, sewer, and steampowered utility providers, Silvey says that larger outfits like BTC and their competitors widely understand the importance of working safely and genuinely commit to doing so. However, large outfits aren’t the only game in town. For every firm BTC’s size, there are dozens of smaller outfits working on the single-family residential scale. If a homeowner needs help with a damaged sewer line, the small contractors who do the work often lack the equipment, training, and experience to excavate it safely. In a low-bid environment, the cost, quality, schedule, and safety equation is often dominated by cost alone. “In April 2019, two people in Windsor, CO lost their lives after entering a 15-foot-deep trench without proper safety equipment,” Silvey reports. “While discussing this at the monthly Associated General Contractors (AGC) meeting a few days later, a group of us decided to form TEST to raise the bar on trench safety and find ways to communicate to these types of contractors. It has been four years, and we still meet quarterly. TEST’s ‘Think Inside The Box’ slogan is the mantra of many.” TEST maintains a website ( and social media presence to promote industry and public awareness of the need for trenching and excavation safety without organizational or geographic boundaries. The site offers an extensive library of safety training resources and serves as a repository for incident news, while also sadly, maintaining an annual record of trench fatalities across the United States. Ralph Bell, Castle Rock Construction Company “There are a lot of ways to work in construction. My passion is helping people, being a resource to others, and seeing the positive impact of my work.” Perry Silvey