Engineered Differently

My story of Coming into the Construction Industry with a disability 

 It was the morning of the 19 September 2011, a morning that will stay with me for the rest of my professional career; this was the morning that I first started my career in the engineering and Construction Industry, which at the time of writing this article is currently 8 years ago. 

Firstly a little bit about myself before I continue, my name is Luke Coggon, I am 29 years old, support Liverpool (no hate please!), I enjoy spending time with friends and family, socialising (normally with a beer or 2) and playing football even though I’m not very good!! 

I have a physical condition called Arthrogryposis, I have had this since birth and I will have it for the rest of my life. It primarily affects the joints muscles and tendons in my arms and I have a much smaller jaw then normal, over the years I have had 7 surgical operations, 3 on both of my feet, one on my left hand, 2 on my jaw and one on my knee (this one on my knee is a Football related injury), I do not know if I will choose to undergo or require any further operations in the future, time will tell. 

Anyway back to my first morning in the Industry, I remember it as clear as if it was yesterday; I remember pulling into the Newton Building car park in preparation for my Induction onto P66 Humber Refinery and a multitude of thoughts and emotions racing through my head as I headed in to the Induction, I found the induction extremely engaging and interesting, it was after the Induction where we was instructed to head to the Gatehouse to collect our site passes and meet our site representatives that the magnitude and size of the Refinery hit me, I was awestruck! 

During the very early days of my career, I kept second-guessing and doubting myself, wondering how I was going to cope in the Industry with a physical disability (my self-confidence was nowhere near the level it is now). 

For the first couple of months of my career I provided assistance to the local Mechanical Workshop Management, carrying out general Admin duties and learning about the industry gaining invaluable knowledge and insights, steadily building my self-confidence and belief in my abilities. After this period I moved back to Humber Refinery to become part of the site team for the next 7 years. 

Over the course of those 7 years my self-confidence, self-esteem, drive, determination and ambition increased exponentially, I have learnt a vast array of Skills including QA, controlling Lifting Operations (Appointed person), Behavioural safety, AutoCAD, SAP, P6 Planning using Primavera among many others. During these past 8 years I have got to know a great amount of work colleagues who I can say will be friends for life, from all walks of life and from many different companies. 

As well as working at P66 Humber Refinery, I have also worked at several other sites in the Industry including TLOR, Bardon Hill Quarry and Millennium Cristal (now known as Tronox), this I believe has given me a great foundation of skills and experience to build on. 

My most recent and proudest achievement so far though has got to be the work I have been doing in the Industry and for Bilfinger UK, late 2018 and early 2019 I played a key role in Bilfinger Uks steering team to develop and roll out a Mental Health Strategy in Partnership with Mates in Mind. At the end of 2019 I was given an amazing opportunity by P66 to develop and put together my own Presentation speaking about my own personal experiences of Mental health and my knowledge about Mental Health in Construction, I delivered this to over 300 people on the Refinery during Safety Week, I also had the amazing opportunity and experience to deliver it at the P66 Offices in London!! Following on from that I have delivered it at various sites and offices around the Country for Bilfinger Uk, the feedback and positive response I have had has been amazing. 

At this current time I am unsure and unclear as to what the future holds for me given the current Global Health and Economic Crisis caused by Coronavirus, I will say this though to anyone reading this article is that I have come too far to quit now, I will succeed at the highest level possible, my drive and determination to succeed is growing stronger by the day, I guess it is because I have had to overcome challenges and adversity since I was born,

"I have always been Engineered Differently" 

I want this Article to inspire people, companies, Directors and Industry Leaders, I am aware that there a great many Disabled people who will be invaluable assets and Stellar Employees for many businesses and organisations, many of them feel like they don’t have what it takes or there are opportunities out there for them, once this virus has been defeated and we get out the other side I will be pushing and driving Disability Awareness in Industry even Further. 

Stay safe, healthy, look after your friends and family, we can and will get through this. 

Luke Coggon