A Safety Story from a Govan Brown Senior Health & Safety Coordinator
We were renovating an inner-city building into a two-story music school when I noticed something off with a painter on the far side of the roof. While reviewing controls on the roof and discussing the hazards, I noticed his D-ring connector was extremely low on his back. When I approached him, I realized that his harness was upside down. To keep the harness leg straps on his shoulders, he used duct tape across his chest to keep the straps up. I pulled him away from his tasks. After questioning his training (he supplied a training certificate for fall protection), he admitted that he had not taken the course and that his boss had provided all the employees with fake certificates. We immediately pulled off the painter crew and informed management of the situation. The immediate solution was to have all workers complete fall protection certification with a reputable trainer. On further investigation, we determined that we needed a system to confirm safety certification prior to trades arriving on-site. This was resolved by confirming a subcontractor’s safety performance training online, prior to being awarded contracts.
A Safety Story from a Structure Tone New York Safety Engineer
We had a crane pick scheduled in Times Square, which required closing the sidewalks and roads on the corner of West 47th Street and Broadway. This particular location made pedestrian safety a challenge as it is the most visited place in the country, in the city that never sleeps. As the area is packed with crowds throughout the year, there is never a good time to do this. To make things more difficult, there is a hotel entrance where the crane needed to be placed, and the entrance needed to remain accessible at all times. This posed a logistical challenge for the flagging crew and pedestrian safety. Five flaggers were stationed at different corners of the temporary construction area. However, some pedestrians were not pleased when informed they were not allowed through and had to take a detour. Many pedestrians tried to walk right through the temporary crane area, even after being flagged and instructed to go around. To prevent any potential confrontation, we placed directional signage and caution tape to make a clear pathway around the area. Oncoming pedestrians were then able to easily figure out where to go on their own while avoiding the need for interaction from the crane or flagging crew. Since the flaggers did not have a direct line of sight between each other, they were given radios to communicate with the crew of any potential issues or breaches. Once the crane and flagging crew were confident the area was properly secured and pedestrians were safe, they were able to get back to the job at hand without posing a hazard to the public. Teamwork, planning, and communication are vital when it comes to jobsite safety…not only for the workers but for the public around us.
A Safety Story from LF Driscoll’s VP of Ops Management
I was recently on-site visiting one of our projects that is pushing towards the finish line. Understandably, we had a number of areas and doors blocked off to allow for completion of floor finishes, in this case it was terrazzo. Add to that the fact that the space is broken up into a number of small galleries and rooms. As someone who is not on-site every day, I found myself asking, “If there was an emergency, would I know how to get out of here safely?”. Then it dawned on me that even workers who are on-site every day, and had been for some time, may not be aware of these detours and blocked exits. Therefore, exit routes that they had become accustomed to may not be available.
On every one of our projects, the final design establishes safe means of egress for the eventual building occupants. Life safety plans defining these routes are usually the first pages of the design documents. But, during construction, when we’re dealing with any number of temporary conditions and other “in progress” factors, it’s easy to lose sight of the need to have clear and safe routes of exit for workers in the event of an emergency—and this isn’t just a jobsite issue. At the beginning of the year, our safely professionals developed new signage and communications to raise awareness of appropriate exit routes from our Bala Cynwyd office building.
Each time you walk your jobsite, think about how workers could evacuate the site quickly and safely in the event of an emergency. Post simple exit signage and make this a topic at foremen’s meetings and at orientation. As conditions change, make corrections and update the information accordingly and make sure there are safe exit ways that can accommodate a large number of exiting workers. Conduct fire drills periodically, especially as the workforce grows and new trades are coming on. Like many other topics we address when discussing safety, it only takes one event or a brief second to end up with a serious problem. At the same time, just a little thought can prevent one.
A Safety Story from an LF Driscoll Superintendent at Penn Medicine:
As construction sites across Philadelphia and the surrounding areas began shutting down in mid-March, the Penn Medicine team was gearing up. Together with our partners, we worked in three shifts around the clock to temporarily shift the focus of the PavilionGo to https://stobuildinggroup.com/projects/penn-medicine-pavilion/ construction to provide additional space for treating patients, if the hospital needed it.
We started building on March 23rd and turned the finished space over to Penn Medicine on April 6th. The effort by the men and women who accomplished this was nothing short of miraculous. It really proves what can be done when you’re called to step up. Continued meetings with the crews before each shift was huge. Those discussions really communicated what needed to be accomplished, and how to get it done SAFELY. It truly took everyone working together to make this happen as quickly as it did.
By working in three shifts, we were able to keep the men and women distanced as needed—and the more information we received about the virus, the more we adjusted our safety strategy. Today on our job, only five people are allowed in an elevator at once and each car has sprayed footprints on the floor, so the workers know where to stand. We’ve also limited the jobsite access to two entry points, where we have infrared scanning, along with a daily sign-in sheet that must be completed before entering the site. The workers are given a different colored bracelet to wear each day, so we know everyone has badged-in properly. Once construction on the Pavilion starts up again, we’ll be working in two shifts to limit the amount of people working within 6ft of one another.
A Safety Story from Ajax Building Corporation’s Safety Director:
A few years ago, Ajax was working with a particular steel erector for the first time on a project in Charlotte County. Whether it was getting everyone to wear their PPEGo to https://stobuildinggroup.com/safety-stories-ppe/ or enforcing proper fall protectionGo to https://stobuildinggroup.com/safety-stories-fall-protection/ practices, making sure the foreman and crew were working safely was a daily struggle. Throughout the project, we held numerous meetings to discuss safety compliance, and when that failed, we were forced to start sending crew members home for violating site safety requirements. We even assigned a full-time safety coordinator to the project, specifically to monitor this crew.
About two years later, we were starting another project in Pinellas County. Market realities at the time dictated that we expand our base of steel erection subcontractors, so we hesitantly hired the same steel erector. We conducted a pre-construction safety meeting with them prior to starting and—as luck would have it—the same foreman and crew who had been on the last project were also assigned to this project.
During the meeting, I went through all the usual safety topics and the crew was fully engaged. Afterwards, the foreman pulled me aside and told me a serious incident occurred on the project immediately following their first job with Ajax. The event motivated them to hire a full-time safety director and develop safety training programs for all workers. “That accident opened our eyes, but it started with you guys,” the foremen said. “Ajax and your insistence on us working safely made us a better company.”
They ended up being one of the top subcontractors on that project and are now one of our “go-to” steel erection subcontractors.
A Safety Story from LF Driscoll’s Safety Director:
A few weeks ago, one of our large healthcareGo to https://stobuildinggroup.com/sectors/healthcare/ clients had a major water leak in an area of the hospital we weren’t working in. Fortunately, the leak was not on a patient floor, but it was heading towards a room that housed countless dollars of computer equipment that would shut down medical operations if they got wet. One of our painters responded quickly and stayed until the leak was fixed over 45 minutes later. We tell our clients that the collective “we” are here to assist at any time—and our painter proved it. He went above and beyond to ensure the safety of thousands of patients that day.
A Safety Story from Govan Brown’s Director of Health & Safety:
At Govan Brown, we’re currently working on a project alongside another general contractor. Both parties have issued a notice of project, but the other contractor was onsite many months before us, so they’ve taken on the role of constructor.
From the start, we’ve operated as a team—especially when it comes to safety. Together, we’re working to ensure all workers receive safety orientations from both of our companies before stepping foot onsite. The Govan Brown team has also been attending our fellow contractor’s Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) meetings. We’re in constant communication with the other firm’s site safety team to ensure we’re all doing everything in our power to keep our workers safe.
This situation is quite unheard of. In fact, the Ministry of Labor deemed it a precedent-setting arrangement. The other contractor was hired by the client, and Govan Brown was hired by the lessee. Therefore, we’re working within the same building and spaces, but operating separately. The way we’ve integrated our safety programs in this unique situation shows that two companies with the same safety values can work together to provide a safe workplace for all.