Where’s the Future of the
Construction Worker Headed?
In the not-so-distant past, Rob McKinney was on a jobsite doing a safety inspection for his construction company when he spotted a worker “top-stepping” a ladder—with two feet on top of an eight-foot ladder working in the ceiling.
McKinney, who was a safety manager at the time, addressed the issue with the worker, but the worker wouldn’t oblige. So McKinney pulled out his brand new BlackBerry phone (now he’s an iPhone user) and snapped a picture.
“I took a picture and I said, ‘listen, I’m going to send this to your boss,’” McKinney recalled. “And if he looks at it and says you’re good, then I’ll leave you alone.”
The conversation completely changed at that moment.
“And I started realizing as a safety professional how I could now enforce safety in a very different manner,” said McKinney. “There were no arguments or debates, because any boss could be shown anything at any time.”
Since then, McKinney has focused on the use of technology on the construction site, and now runs ConAppGuru, which provides presentations and services for companies on the subject. In a recent webinar he discussed the evolution of technology in the construction industry and where it’s headed.
McKinney gave a quick rundown on the history of construction technology, starting with the abacus in 2000 BC, moving to the level in 880 AD and then on to the modern age of computers, handheld calculators, fax machines and mobile phones.
Now, he says, you can take a picture of a work issue, whether it’s regarding safety or a product defect, and send it back to the office. “These mobile devices have taken us to another level,” he said. “They’ve cut the chains from the desk” for project managers and foremen.
But it’s about much more than just pictures, McKinney explained.
He focused on a number of different technology tools that are being utilized and have the potential to be even more beneficial in the future. iBeacons, for example, are low-energy, small Bluetooth-enabled boxes that transmit location information from users. McKinney explored some of the ways the device could be implemented on the construction site, such as allowing companies to track employees and material.
“What if there’s a structural collapse?” he said, as an example. “You have 145 people on the project. You can look at the device and say, ‘I see two dots on Level 2.’” At that point, employees could be located and identified immediately.
He also noted the “big brother” aspect of iBeacons, which could be used to track employee location for time management.
McKinney touched on drones, which not only provide information unattainable by the naked eye—via flyovers, for instance—but also carry a safety benefit. Drones can be used to take a look at up-high places and “get eyes on it without risking human injury.”
Laser scanning was another focus, as the technology can give exact measurements of items in the field. He said the future of laser scanning is its coordination with BIM models in real time.
McKinney advised companies to embrace “the cloud,” which can provide real-time access to data. He referred to “connected trailers,” which can serve as a technology hub on site and are able to share information to the office, architects, etc.
The implementation of new technologies will take time, but McKinney said the best way to vet which ones will work for a certain company is simply to try them out. When asked about that during the Q&A session, he encouraged companies to form a technology committee of employees with different levels of experience and knowledge on the topic.
“Pick out people who are good with technology, and pick out people who are bad with technology. Because everyone has different life experiences. … and once you get that core group that understands the tools and technology, then they can start being the champions to get everybody else on the same page.”
Falls, Lies, Could
Lead to Jail Time
Fall hazards must be taken seriously.
A roofing company owner’s charge for lying to federal authorities investigating the death of an employee is a reminder to the glazing industry of that seriousness.
James J. McCullagh of James J. McCullagh Roofing in Philadelphia was recently indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on four counts of making false statements, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of willfully violating an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation that led to the death of an employee.
On June 21, 2013, one of McCullagh’s workers died after falling 45 feet from a scaffold at a jobsite, according to the DOJ’s indictment. During OSHA’s investigation, McCullagh allegedly tried to cover up his failure to provide fall protection by falsely stating four times that he had done so, the DOJ says. The indictment also charges that McCullagh knew he had not provided fall protection to his employees, and that he ordered other employees to falsely state that they had fall protection on the day of the accident.
If convicted, McCullagh faces up to 25 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.
McCullagh’s indictment comes in the wake of other recent OSHA citations for fall hazards in the construction industry.
In May, Pinnacle Roofing Contractors of Florida was hit with $154,000 in penalties for not providing adequate safety precautions at a site where one of its employees fell to his death through a skylight.
Also in May, nine contractors at the newly constructed Oasis Park Square residential development in Doral, Fla., including window-installation firm Unity Windows of Medley, Fla., were cited for a total of $152,000 in violations. Unity Windows received $10,000 in penalties for failing to protect workers from falls.
Construction sites are increasingly seeing the use of a variety of technologies such as tablets
and mobile devices to enhance operations and efficiencies.
One World Trade Center
in a Glass of its Own
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) recently named One World Trade Center one of its four 2015 Best Tall Building winners. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merril LLP, the tower stands1,776 feet and 104 stories (with 94 above-ground floors), and features Viracon’s insulating laminated products and VRE 15-54 glass types. The IGUs required—based on form, function and aesthetics specifications—were larger than Viracon had the capability of producing at the time it was brought into the project. As a result, the company invested in new equipment to produce and handle the larger units. The varying thickness of the inner and outer lites complicated the installation process, requiring a custom-framing system from Benson Industries, the glazing contractor.
Permasteelisa was also involved on the project. Its scope included 2,112 unitized panels with adjustable glass fins, perforated aluminum back panels, horizontal stainless steel slats and an integrated LED lighting system, according to the company’s website. It also completed the design, production and installation of four cable-net façades corresponding to the North, South, East and West entrances of the podium.
The CTBUH has been awarding its Best Tall Building award since 2007, and this year’s selection came from a pool of 123 entries—a 40-percent increase from 2014. The other three regional winners were CapitaGreen in Singapore, Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy, and Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower in Abu Dhabi, UAE. An overall winner for the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” will be selected and announced at the awards ceremony and dinner, taking place in Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Crown Hall on November 12 at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
© Copyright 2015 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.