Paul Yakubek’s safety career started in the U.S. Navy where he had served in various capacities, including a pilot for submarine spotter aircraft and a flight safety officer in the Pacific fleet. Paul retired from the U.S. Navy as a Commander in 1978 and completed his Masters Degree in Systems Safety through USC the following year.
Paul joined Signetics Corporation as the Safety Manager for the Sunnyvale operation in 1979 and rapidly became engaged in safety issues affecting the semiconductor industry as a whole. For someone new to the industry, Paul found himself actively involved with managing the growing safety program within his workplace, as well as participating in the formation of plans, studies, and recommendations affecting safety and health through the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and the peer safety community throughout Silicon Valley.
Paul’s employment in the semiconductor industry came at a time where a number of outside interests were converging to assure safe and healthful working conditions for all employees within the industry and safety of the general public. In 1979, there was a labor movement in Silicon Valley to unionize the semiconductor industry and the labor activists had focused on safety and health concerns of workers in the industry as a means to publicize their views and to stimulate support. In 1980, the California Department of Labor (Cal OSHA) formed a task force on the Electronics Industry and released its study in 1981. Paul became engaged with efforts of others in Silicon Valley to address the concerns expressed by the labor organizers and employees and he participated in the Cal OSHA study.
The focus on public safety that was raised by labor interest groups and Cal OSHA was then amplified when public safety officials within Silicon Valley, including building and fire officials, raised concerns regarding the suitability of the buildings and structures occupied by the industry as it had rapidly grown from one of research & development to production and high volume manufacturing. As a result, restrictions were imposed on the storage and use of a number of hazardous materials used by the industry and these restrictions had an overall effect on construction features and engineering controls applied as semiconductor fabrication facilities (fabs) were retrofitted or newly constructed.
Paul’s employer had been planning to construct a new fab in the City of Sunnyvale and found that due to the restrictions imposed by the building code, the plans for construction could not be executed without major revision. As a result, an effort was initiated to address the code-related issues affecting building construction. This generated industry interest, resulting in the formation of an SIA task force dedicated to creating a code-acceptable solution that would recognize the nature and the needs of the thriving industry. This coordinated industry initiative would significantly influence future design and construction of semiconductor fabs.
Paul worked diligently to support the efforts of the SIA to seek funding to facilitate the overall code development effort, and contributed technical expertise based on his background in system safety for the purpose of developing control parameters to be imposed by the newly emerging code, and building consensus on the technical aspects surrounding those controls.
The effort to produce what eventually became known as the H-6 Occupancy and Article 51 of the Uniform Fire Code (UFC) culminated with the successful adoption of provisions specific to the industry that were published in the 1984 Supplement to the Uniform Codes. In 1985 Paul led an effort through the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce that resulted in the successful adoption of the 1984 Supplement by the Sunnyvale City government, which was the first formal adoption of these model code provisions specific to the industry.
The SIA’s interest to establish the H-6 concept evolved to one of national importance and Paul was involved in the refinement of the principles of the H-6 Occupancy and actively supported industry’s efforts to carry those principles into the model codes published by the ICBO, BOCA, and SBCCI. As a result of those efforts, national parity in the codes was achieved by 1990.
His legacy in this period of time was proactive leadership necessary for the industry to take the responsible position for guidelines, codes, standards, and practices to ensure that its employees and the public were protected. The result was a consistent set of codes and standards that recognized the needs of both industry and the public.
Paul retired from Signetics Corporation in 1988 and began his career as an independent consultant to the industry. In 1989, Paul secured a contract with National Semiconductor, a relationship that lasted fifteen years. In this period, Paul mentored several EHS professionals that you know and work with today, including a couple current SESHA BOD members and a symposium PDC co-chair (2005). In summary, Paul was an extremely talented safety professional and positive influence on the advancement of environmental, health, and safety in the industry and on many of today’s current EHS leaders.