Construction

Fall Protection App Aims to Reduce Construction Falls

Fall Protection App Aims to Reduce Construction Falls

A new safety app has been introduced from the American Society of Safety Professionals. It is a virtual reality app that helps construction workers practice identifying safety hazards.

Construction Industry Ignorant on Fire Safety Needs by New Civil Engineer

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New Civil Engineer released an article about the Structural-Safety group's Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety (CROSS) report that claimed that fire engineers lack onsite experience and struggle when suggesting robust, yet practical solutions for fire safety needs at construction sites.

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CROSS continued, there is "considerable ignorance across [the] industry of the complexity of fire protection demands in buildings." 

"These factors must be emphasized continuously.  Fire safety must be consistently stressed throughout design, construction, maintenance, use, and very importantly, when there are alterations.  At all staged, the level of fire safety can be reduced by those not understanding the implications of what they are doing," the CROSS report said.

Read the whole article here.

4 Heartwarming Construction Stories to Make Your Day

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With the holidays over and the sun not having been seen in what feels like 8 years, we need some happy stories to lift our little vitamin D deprived souls.

I scoured the internet to find the best happy construction stories.  These stories will warm your hearts and make your day.   

1.  San Joe Construction Worker Rescues Kidnapped Baby

This story sounds like the plot of a movie, but it's real.  A construction worker, with the help of a homeless woman, rescued a kidnapped baby.

The father of the baby had strapped his son into the car, but forgot his lunch and ran back inside.  When he came out, the car was missing with his son.

 Via kron4.com. 

Via kron4.com. 

A few hours later, the car was parked outside a construction site with people arguing outside it.  A man, who seemed to be on drugs, was yelling at a homeless woman.  The woman kept signaling to the construction worker, Colin Blevin.  She was trying to get Blevin to notice the baby.

The baby was sitting in a hot car with the windows rolled up.  Blevin began to ask, "Is that your baby?" to everyone around.  He was ignored.  The kidnapper walked away and began to try and break into another car.  Blevin opened the car door, grabbed the baby, and called the police.

A short time later, the baby was reunited with his father.

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2.  300 Plumbers Got to Flint, MI to Install Free Water Filters

Residents of Flint, MI have been dealing with drinking water issues since 2014.  Many people aren't able to use their tap water in their homes.  Some residents can't afford a water filtration system, so plumbers from Local 370 have gone to Flint to install free water filters in homes.

3.  Construction Workers Rescued Drowning Boy

Three construction workers were working near a pond when they saw a boy drowning.  The men were having a meeting when they saw a woman jump into the pond with her clothes on.  It looked odd, so they investigated. 

All three men ran toward the dock and discovered that a woman was trying to rescue a toddler who had fallen into the water.  One jumped into the water and grabbed the boy, setting him on the dock.

But, the boy wasn't breathing.

The men did CPR, which they were trained on for their construction jobs.  

They couldn't feel a pulse.

They kept going.  Soon, the boy vomited and began to cry.

"I got to be a part of it.  That was a blessing, and I've got two brothers because of it," Sean Sumner, one of the construction workers, concluded.

4.  Contractors Work Together to Build 1st Ultra-Accessible Water Park

AGC Charities and dozens of construction firms worked together to build Morgan's Inspiration Island.  It is the first ultra-accessible water park.  The construction involved building a main building, five new pump houses, and a lighthouse.  The charity raised $350,000 in funds for the project.  Linbeck Group was the lead general contractor.

It was the first water park built with special needs in mind.  

 

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How Technology Can Change Workplace Safety as We Know It

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The construction industry is planted firmly in the ground, building the physical infrastructure of the world. That doesn’t mean, however, that the industry isn’t affected by the 21st-century technological boom.

In fact, construction tech innovation is a thriving field that is increasing productivity, profit margins, and most of all, worker safety. Construction is a high-risk industry, but with the help of technology, it is getting safer every day. 

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Exoskeletons


Hard hats and heavy boots are the quintessential symbols of a construction worker. These safety measures might not be enough, however. 25% of accidents are from workplace foot injuries, and that’s with all the advanced features construction footwear now provides.

It seems as if better construction gear is in order. Enter the exoskeleton. One of the leaders in exoskeleton technology is Ekso Bionics, a company that has been developing exoskeletons for healthcare and construction work for the past ten years. Their construction exoskeletons include an upper body exoskeleton to support the spinal cord and an arm that can reduce repetitive stress injuries from heavy-duty construction tools. 



Another construction exoskeleton is suitX from US Bionics. Their exoskeleton is modular and workers can choose to add on pieces as they feel necessary. The modules include suits for the back, legs, and shoulders. This exoskeleton is designed to reduce stress on joints and muscles while remaining unobtrusive so workers can still carry their tools. Each module can be worn separately or together. 



Smart Wearables


Protective construction gear has long been one of the most relied-upon safety measures. In the modern age, protective clothing is getting smart. Wearable tech can monitor workers’ biometric data including heart rate, skin temperature, and respiration rate. This data can be used to monitor stress and fatigue, alerting safety managers if a worker becomes overheated or exhausted. 


Some wearables can also sense changes in the environment and position, a function that would be extremely useful should a worker get buried under rubble in an emergency. One wearable incorporating location services is a smart vest. It connects to a real-time locating services platform that can allow actuators to slow or deactivate machinery when a vest is detected nearby.

Hard hats and helmets are a popular target for wearable companies. Some of the features included in this technology are fall impact detection, emergency alerts, and sensors.

A smart helmet can incorporate augmented reality technology to allow workers to see plans projected onto the site. This reduces the need to carry cumbersome books, sheets, and laptops on the site, freeing up workers’ hands to focus on safety. The helmet also has a rear camera to give workers eyes in the back of their heads, enabling them to see danger behind them.



Monitoring Systems


Many construction safety measures focus on the actions of the workers. Some technologies, however, target the job site itself. Monitoring the environmental quality for red flags such as air pollutants can alert managers to potential hazards as soon as possible. There are several technological monitoring strategies being applied to construction sites, including sensors and drones.

Sensors for construction sites can detect temperature, pressure, humidity, vibration, dust particulate, and volatile organic compounds. The data can then be used to analyze the environment over time, and to keep the job site safer by detecting hazards right away.

Drones are another major tool for monitoring construction safety and the progress of a project. An aerial view of the job site can reveal faults or hazards on the site that are not obvious from the workers’ perspective. Additionally, these unmanned aerial vehicles can be used to monitor workers to make sure their safety is always protected on site. 
 

Robotics and Self-Driving Vehicles

 

Perhaps the most blatant sci-fi motif, robots are coming to the construction site, along with their cousin, the self-driving vehicle. These tools can reduce the need for humans to complete certain backbreaking tasks. Vehicular accidents are also a major cause of injury and death in the industry, and automating them will drastically reduce accidents. 

The past year saw major advances in the area of construction robotics. Construction juggernaut Caterpillar has decided to back tech company Fastbrick Robotics, developing a robotic bricklayer.

2017 was also the public debut of the first self-driving construction vehicle, the Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV) by Royal Truck and Equipment, designed to protect vehicles behind it from rear collisions. Later in the year Built Robotics debuted its Autonomous Track Loader, a self-driving track loader.



Conclusion


Both new startups and established construction brands have been innovating nonstop, and the results are exciting. Companies are learning to protect their workers by leaning into the massive leaps in technology.

Soon, it might be the norm for a job site to be monitored by a drone and a sensor, while workers in exoskeletons work alongside robots. This trend can improve workplace safety forever.

Author:  Vincent West

With an educational background in Engineering Design and a personal interest in all things construction and workforce related, Vince is behind WorkBootCritic.com. He’s a news geek, especially when it comes to keeping up to date with the industry’s biggest developments. 

New OSHA Chief is Ex-FedEx Executive

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Donald Trump nominated a FedEx executive to lead the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), and he got the thumbs up by the Senate.

Trump nominated Scott Mugno on October 27.  He is currently the VP of Safety, Sustainability, and Vehicle Maintenance at FedEx Ground.  He is also the chair of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's OSHA subcommittee.

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Related:  OSHA's Recommendations for Protecting Temp Workers

Mugno was grilled during the hearing by Senator Patty Murray.  "I'm concerned about your record that stands against everything OSHA should stand for," Murray said during the hearing on December 1.  She continued, "During your two-plus decades at FedEx, you have consistently opposed stronger safety and health protections for workers.  Can you name a single rule proposed by OSHA that during your career you supported?"

Mugno replied, "I don't recall."

Related:  OSHA Eyes Workplace Safety for Temporary Workers

MA Democrat Elizabeth Warren asked if you would go back to the practice of issuing press releasing for big fines against job safety violators.  Under Obama, OSHA averaged 400 press releases a year.  Under Trump, there was only 26 in the first year.  Mugno responded that he would need to consult with staff.

All republicans voted to recommend approval of Mugno and all democrats voted against Mugno.  By December 13, he was approved.

 

Joe Beatty Gets Level 1 R&R Card Argonne Award for Lab HVAC Project

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Joe Beatty, F.E. Moran's Pipefitter was honored with an R&R Argonne award card for his work at Argonne National Laboratory. 

Chris Baltas, MDL Safety Manager said, "I don't give out many R&R cards to workers unless I feel they have gone above and beyond or have continually shown to be safety conscious."  He went on to tell the story of Joe Beatty and his gas line replacement project.

Baltas and Beatty were on opposite ends of a gas line that F.E. Moran was replacing.  Baltas was on the phone with the man on the other end of the gas line discussing if it was time to purge the line.  Baltas let Beatty know that they were ready to purge the line.  However, Beatty and his partner, Bruno, insisted in speaking in-person to verify that the line was ready to purge.

Baltas said, "I gave him a level 1 card shortly afterwards and thanked him for taking that extra step!"

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Employers Need to Emphasize On-the-Job Driving Safety by Banning Cell Phones

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On the job motor vehicle collisions are as prevalent as ever.  It is essential for employers to emphasize on-the-job driving safety.

In the past two years, motor vehicle crashes have increased 14%.

“That is the highest increase over a two-year period since 1963. More than 1,000 people are suffering from life-changing injuries. We also know that the number one cause of on-the-job deaths are motor vehicle collisions,” said Jenny M. Burke, Itasca, Illinois-based senior director of advocacy at the National Safety Council.

The major reason for the increase in crashes is the distracted driver.

In a survey, 79% of people said that they would make phone calls while driving if it were legal.  Another 53% admitted that they would text while driving if it were legal or that they already were.

 

Exxon Mobile, Shell Oil, and Time Warner have implemented a no cell phone policy.  Experts say others should follow suit.

“We recommend that (employers) ban cellphones from job sites and cabs of heavy equipment,” Ms. Burke said. “We recommend that there are safe limited zones to use cellphones, that they allow cellphone breaks so employees don’t feel like they are stranded and can’t make those phone calls.”

Read more at Business Insurance.

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Recall Alert: Genie Recalls Aerial Lifts

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Genie, Redmond, Wash., a Terex Brand, is recalling certain aerial lifts. The company has found that weld debris in the boom tubes could lead to premature and excessive wear of the upper wear pads. This excessive wear can lead to potential damage to the boom tubes and could cause the platform to drop.

Affected models and serial numbers include:

SX-150:

1.       SX15015H-101 to 161

2.       SX15016H-162 to 228

3.       SX150H-500 to 501

SX-180:

1.       SX18014-101 to 196

2.       SX18015-197 to 313

3.       SX18016-314 to 317

4.       SX18016H-318 to 360

5.       SX180H-600 to 602

Those with impacted machines should order a kit to replace the wear pads. Learn more about the recall and find how to order the kit.

The affected machines may remain in service until this safety notice is completed, provided that inspection for wear pads is included as part of the pre-operation inspections outlined in the machine’s operator’s manual.

Company statement: Genie takes issues like this very seriously and has been proactively working with the customers directly impacted by this issue. Genie has updated its manufacturing processes to resolve the issue with new machines in production, as well as have developed a kit to update affected machines in the field.