Breaking down barriers: Veterans and mental health

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a Suicide Data Report that found an average of 20 veterans die by suicide every day. I learned this shocking and sobering statistic in 2016 while participating in a year-long leadership training series, Unbeatable Mind, which is run by former Navy Seal Mark Divine. He has since founded The Courage Foundation, a nonprofit that supports veterans by educating, equipping and empowering them to live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and restoring their sense of purpose, hope and connection.

During the leadership training, I got to know several men and women who actively serve our country and others who were veterans. It was through listening to their stories that I learned about the challenges veterans face. When soldiers retire from service, they leave behind a structured lifestyle in which they know what they are doing, when and why every day. Many of them lose this structure when they are out of the military, and for those who have faced traumatic experiences, they can often be overcome by that trauma. Others are dealing with injuries from combat, the stress related with them, and even addiction to pain medication.

What the men and women who have served our country are facing—at times, alone—is tragic, and we should do what we can to raise awareness of it and provide support and resources to help them. That is, in fact, one goal of The Courage Foundation, which has a 22 million burpee challenge to raise awareness and funds to support veterans in need. I have joined this challenge myself, committing to 25,000 burpees in 2018 (I am at 20,000 right now).

Many of our colleagues at Skanska are veterans who bravely served our country. While the construction industry is known for its “toughness,” no one should suffer in silence. It is important we help erase the stigma behind talking about our emotions and mental health. It is okay to reach out for help—and the tools and resources are in place through government programs and nonprofits to get that help. It is up to us to listen and pay attention to our co-workers and share this information if we recognize a need.

Resources for veterans:

• The Veterans Crisis Line can connect you with caring, qualified responders with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are veterans themselves.
• Reach out to nonprofits committed to helping veterans. There are many organizations throughout the U.S. that support veterans, some can be found here.

What you can do to help veterans:

Support local and national nonprofits committed to helping veterans. While there are many organizations that support veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ VA Voluntary service page is a great place to start.

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Past, Present and Future: Continuous Improvement through RPIWs

The 20th LCI Congress event will be held from October 15-19. This annual conference has an overarching goal of transforming the Built Environment through Lean implementation. During the event, owners, designers, trade partners and general contractors will share their Lean successes and challenges and discuss how to advance Lean project design and delivery, improving design and building performance. Skanska is a founding member of the Lean Construction Institute and applies Lean approaches in many construction sectors, focused on helping clients realize their vision. To learn more, click here.

Cultural change takes commitment, endless energy, and buy-in from senior management to be successful. With the construction industry evolving at a rapid pace, about five years ago Skanska realized we must make the cultural shift to a Lean organization. This would lead to a resilient company and create a forward thinking, empowered team culture that could exceed customer expectations.

Many Lean tools have assisted us in this ongoing journey, but the backbone of our success was creating a top down, bottom up approach and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. While education is a key component, we found Rapid Process Improvement Workshops (RPIW) to be better than training alone. They not only educate, but they have the ability to substantiate and create tangible results that lead to team buy-in and organic culture growth. At Skanska, we began RPIW workshops in 2011. Resulting evidence led us to dig deeper within our organization and formalize our efforts across the country.

An RPIW, a specific format for a Kaizen event, is a five-day workshop focused on a particular process in which people who do the work are empowered to eliminate waste and reduce the burden of work. This is accomplished by:

• Defining the process under investigation
• Understanding the current system and processes
• Identifying operational barriers and wastes in the current process
• Applying basic and advanced Lean methodologies to redesign the current process to eliminate or mitigate barriers and wastes
• Rapidly implementing the new process with a robust control strategy to ensure long term sustainability of the improvements
• Continuously improving the process through the use of the Deming cycle, also referred to as the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle

The RPIW process takes many weeks of preparation and planning prior to the five-day workshop, and it doesn’t stop there. The process extends beyond workshop completion as teams measure results and make necessary process modifications to ensure the goals and targets—which were established prior to the event—are met.

The benefits extend beyond education during the RPIW workshop week and teams reaching their goals. The process empowers people, incorporates team building, creates standard work, and fosters communication and accountability with the result of enhancing existing systems and processes.

To realize such success, management must make a commitment to support the team and remove barriers. The team itself should be a diverse and inclusive group that can bring a wide variety of thought and ideas into the room. The new process must be immediately implemented. Finally, we have realized that additional resources are a beneficial part of the solution at times. The RPIW process is not about reducing resources; it is about removing burdens and waste.

Building upon each other’s success
At Skanska, topics are often suggested by employees and participation is always voluntary. As a result, people hear about results and seek to perform an RPIW themselves. This is how a Lean culture is spreading throughout our company—through ownership and peer-to-peer buy-in. Our teams are naturally building upon each other’s successes as well. There are some cases where offices have learned about the results of an RPIW implemented elsewhere in the country, and they have borrowed the new process and improved it through their own RPIW—naturally building a culture of continuous improvement.

One such case was a project start-up RPIW, which was repeated several times and built upon by different offices. While studying the same topic and learning from each other, our teams realized various goals and results, which have led to improved performance and client deliverables. From this, we can truly see that the Lean culture is spreading.

In 2012, our Seattle, Washington office was the first to review the project start-up process. Many clients required a quicker “readiness to work” time than we were providing. Overall, the process included a significant wait time (one of the seven types of waste in the Lean world). A baseline of 31 days from the day a job number was requested to the day initial subcontracts were executed was targeted for a 90 percent reduction—just three days total. This was a very challenging target to reach, but they should be aggressive and challenging. Goals and targets for improvement should stretch beyond what one might think is reasonable because this challenges teams to make transformational change. If the goals are incremental or not large enough, they may fall into the trap of doing more of the same.

The Seattle team is currently tracking between seven and eight days, which is far less than the original 31. By identifying waste and developing alternate solutions, not only did they achieve an overall time reduction, but costs were reduced as well by implementing automated notifications and eliminating hard copy contract shipping costs.

As part of the project start-up RPIW, our Seattle team wrote each process on a post-it and attached it to a large sheet of paper. The top paper is the current state Value Stream Map. This map is a visual means to depict and improve the flow of material or information through a process. The second, lower sheet of paper is the future state Value Stream Map. With the completion of the Value Stream Maps, their next step was to implement the new plan.

A few years later, a Skanska team in San Antonio, Texas learned about Seattle’s results and was motivated to try a project start-up RPIW themselves. They included the Seattle developed process, but also looked at project mobilization—getting boots on the ground. The team reviewed steps prior to subcontracts being issued and found there was no formal process performing job start-up, which resulted in a significant amount of waste and frustration among project teams. Each operator was reinventing the wheel each time resulting in waste and defects such as incomplete, missing or redundant information, missed steps, time spent training, and potentially a delayed start.

With several new employees and projects in the pipeline, a standard process needed to be established to increase efficiency and eliminate waste. The team’s specific goal was to reduce the overall time from the day we receive a notice to proceed to the day on-site mobilization is complete—a total reduction from 52 to 10 days. Again, these were very aggressive goals, but part of the process was already improved by our Seattle team. San Antonio’s new process added a contract administrator to support project on-site mobilization, appointed a key person to oversee and hold people accountable to following the new process and implemented “stop the line” points within their process. These “stop the line” gates halt the process until specific steps are completed, sufficient information is known or appropriate people are included or present. Currently, the San Antonio team is tracking at five days, and they have revisited the process five times to realize further improvement.

The San Antonio team is pictured here documenting the current state Value Stream Map and identifying waste in the process.

Close to the same time, our Blue Bell, Pennsylvania team also decided to join in the continuous improvement journey and build on Seattle’s improvements. Their scope began even earlier in the project start-up process, beginning with the Request for Proposal (RFP) and leading into sending out the first bid package to trade partners. The team largely focused on preconstruction activities and realized, similar to the San Antonio team, that lack of a standard process had resulted in burdensome work and unclear roles and responsibilities. For their RPIW, the Blue Bell team targeted 100 percent standard work and continue to revisit the process to make improvements and changes as needed.

Skanska’s Blue Bell team is shown documenting opportunities and challenges in the current process.

A naturally evolving Lean culture
A Lean culture of continuous improvement is organically growing and spreading within Skanska. By making the new processes and results available nationally, we naturally encourage offices to look into efforts made by their peers across the country. Since our geographies are very diverse, they can take a process and make it their own—seek out the value in what exists and continue to make it better.

To date, we have held nearly 30 RPIWs and multiple Kaizen events. The topics range from construction to marketing to administrative, and the workshops include all levels of personnel from our organization—top down, bottom up. This empowers our people to work together and always look for a better solution.

Amy Jones

Amy Jones

Amy Jones is the Director of Continuous Improvement and Benchmarking Services for Skanska and Vice-Chair of the National Lean Committee

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How Technology Is Impacting The Aviation Sector and What It Means For Design and Construction of Airports of Tomorrow

While airports have always competed for increased air service and passenger growth, one of the biggest drivers these days is enhancing the passenger experience. Technology is disrupting our everyday lives and changing how we experience things. As ridership continues to grow, with predictions suggesting passengers worldwide will double by 2035, simplifying the journey through today’s airports by incorporating technology into the design and construction of airports will enhance the passenger experience.

Dwight Pullen, Senior Vice President of Skanska’s Aviation Center of Excellence sat down with Constructive Thinking to talk about the market, the impact technology is having on the sector and on the design and construction of projects.


The infographic below highlights seven key design and construction elements for airport operators to keep in mind.

A version of this infographic was featured as a thought leadership piece in Centerlines Magazine’s Fall/Winter 2018, which was distributed at the 2018 Airports Council International-North America Annual Conference & Exhibition.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Pushing the Boundaries: Following The Living Building Journey of the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech

By Jimmy Mitchell, LEED AP BD+C, Sustainability Engineer, Skanska and Ramana Koti, BEMP, LEED AP BD+C, Lord Aeck Sargent

A version of the following byline was featured on the Lord Aeck Sargent online blog, which is following the design and construction of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech through a series of posts titled “A Living Building Project Journey.” Skanska is serving as construction manager on this project, partnered with Lord Aeck Sargent, the architect, in collaboration with The Miller Hull Partnership and design team consultants: Newcomb & Boyd, PAE Consulting Engineers, Uzun + Case, Biohabitats, Andropogon and Long Engineering. This is one of five Living Building Challenge (LBC) projects Skanska is currently constructing or providing owners consulting services for, and our teams have delivered two fully certified LBC projects: the Bertschi School Science Classroom Addition in Seattle, Washington and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Funded through a private grant from The Kendeda Fund, this project is expected to become a LBC 3.1 certified facility. As one of the most rigorous proven performance frameworks for buildings, the LBC has many standards to follow. One of these is the Net Positive Waste Imperative of the LBC, which stipulates that ‘all projects must feature at least one salvaged material per 5,380-SF of gross building area or be an adaptive reuse of an existing structure.’

For new construction, such as The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech, this means that the project must use at least seven different salvaged materials. The project is currently on track to meet and exceed this requirement and is incorporating some innovative strategies.

The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design will use the following salvaged materials:

• Nail-Laminated Decks
• Slate tile
• Granite curbs
• Joist
• Storm felled oak

Nail-Laminated Decks

The roof and floor decks of the project will contain nail-laminated panels that are a combination of 2” x 6” and 2”x 4” wood. Each 2” x 6” is structural while the 2” x 4” pieces are spacers. The 2” x 6” wood is new and comes with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain of custody documentation, which shows the path taken by products from the forest to the point of the product’s sale with an FSC claim and/or it is finished and FSC labeled, from a mill in Alabama.

Approximately 25 percent of the 2” x 4” wood is salvaged from dismantled movie sets and exempt from FSC certification requirements.

The building’s floor decking is composed of either locally salvaged wood or Forest Stewardship Council-certified southern yellow pine. The salvaged wood has come from the Life Cycle Building Center—a local non-profit material and salvage reuse— center, the local film industry and Stone Mountain. Skanska is constructing these nail laminated decks alongside GA Works employees. GA Works is a program that empowers previously unemployed or homeless individuals through a local workforce initiative.

Slate Tile

The roof of the Alumni Association building at Georgia Tech was replaced after more than 70 years of use. The slate tiles are still in good shape. At the time of demolition, bins were made to fit the lifts used by the construction crew to access the roof. Having bins close at hand made saving the tiles easier for the crew. The slate will be cut and used  to tile the walls in the bathrooms and shower rooms.

Slate tiles from the roof of Georgia Tech’s 70 year-old Alumni Association building will be reused to tile the walls in the bathrooms and shower rooms.

Granite Curbs

The Georgia Archives Building was recently razed through a controlled implosion to make way for the new Georgia State Supreme Court. The demolition schedule allowed an opportunity to salvage and collect materials. These Stone Mountain granite curbs have found a home and will be used as the curb that surrounds the constructed wetland—a part of the treatment system for the greywater.

Our team collected 39 slabs of Stone Mountain granite curbs, totaling 150 linear feet, from the Georgia Archives Building. These will be used as the perimeter curb for a constructed wetland area.

Joists

Tech Tower on the Georgia Tech campus, which began construction in 1887, is one of two original buildings that made up the then Georgia School of Technology. In 2016, the interior was fully renovated, including removing the exterior metal fire stairs to be replaced with an interior fire stair. As part of this process, four floors with original heart pine joists were removed and saved. They will be used as the stair treads at The Kendeda Building.

These 1880s heart pine joists came from Tech Tower, one of two original buildings at Georgia Tech. The joists were salvaged during a 2016 renovation and will be used to build the stair treads at the Kendeda Building.

Storm-Felled Oak

Georgia Tech implemented a storm-fallen tree recovery plan to collect trees. The team reviewed the inventory that includes milled white oak, black oak and water oak for The Kendeda Building. The wood, which has been air-dried for one year, will be kiln-dried and processed for use as live-edge slab counter tops and benches.

Georgia Tech implemented a storm-fallen tree recovery plan to collect trees. These quartered black oaks will be air-dried for a year, then kiln-dried and processed for use as live-edge slab counter tops and benches.

Lunch Tables

Construction lunch tables, salvaged from a project for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, are located adjacent to the construction trailer. While this isn’t one of the seven salvaged materials, the repurposing of these tables certainly fits the spirit of the team effort to maximize salvaged materials use and reduce waste.

In the spirit of sustainable reuse, the project team uses salvaged lunch tables.

Jimmy Mitchell

Jimmy Mitchell

Sustainability Engineer

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What Owners Should Know Before Choosing the Design-Build Project Delivery Method

As an industry, when we talk about the design-build project delivery method, we typically focus on the contractual obligations associated with delivering the project. I think about a contract as a set of expectations. A well-written contract is one that clearly outlines expectations of those with responsibility for the success of the project. That includes how each person at the table will be held accountable for not meeting those expectations.

Design-build is a method that brings one entity – the design-build team – under a single contract with the project owner. This one entity, one contract, one team approach completes a project faster, more cost effectively and with fewer change orders. In fact, over the past 15 years, use of design-build has greatly accelerated in the U.S., making this delivery method one of the most significant trends in design and construction today.

But outside of drawing up a well-written contract, owners often overlook a key attribute that can significantly impact the success of a design-build project: choosing the right team.

What does that mean?

The success of design-build hinges on collaboration between owner, contractor and designer. But there’s more to it when picking the right team to complete your project. I like to break it down into two categories.

Diversity
There are a lot of statistics out there about the relationship between diversity and high-performing teams. Recently, I did an analysis on the generational diversity of our office, local leadership team and projects. In my research, diverse and balanced teams deliver the smoothest projects with success and profitability for all stakeholders.  For example, Skanska is working on two design-build projects at a major Bay Area airport where the client emphasized the need for a diverse team as a critical component for success of the project. The project teams are a diverse mix of experience levels, with at least one member representing each generational group from their 20’s to 60’s. A year into the project, we’re seeing great collaboration and have met all critical milestones to-date. We have a signed contract, and our stakeholder engagement program has been running smoothly. As we plan future pursuits, we are using this team as a model for what we should aim for.

What it comes down to is a balance of push and pull, knowledge sharing about building techniques new and old. There are also leaders on those projects who understand the value of having a diverse team and are leveraging that effectively. There is great value in our differences.

Culture
The mindset and attitude of the members of a project team leads to the overall culture on a project. The project executive must be intentional about building a culture, starting with finding the right people with the right attitude. In this industry, we are faced with big challenges and obstacles on a daily basis. We can choose to be held down by the challenges, or we can say, “How can we think differently to overcome these challenges?” We’re looking for the moonshot thinkers. For example, most people don’t spend their time being bothered that they can’t teleport from Seattle to Japan, because a part of them thinks it’s impossible. We want people on our teams that choose to be bothered by that and then work relentlessly to find ways to achieve the impossible. People can set their minds to seemingly impossible ideas and through science, engineering and technology, we can make amazing things happen. If we become afraid to take risks, we stop inspiring people and we stop achieving great things. We can’t stop pioneering in this business. To sustain an innovative culture, we need moonshot thinkers — who are both intellectually and emotionally intelligent. We need diverse perspectives at the table.

See below to watch a video where I recently shared these views at the Design-Build Institute of Americas Western Pacific Region annual conference.

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Celebrating Earth Day With An Innovative Take On Recycling

In honor of Earth Day, April 22, we are highlighting a project with a unique recycling solution.

At Gulf State Park Lodge in Alabama, five tons of gypsum drywall are produced weekly. Because there aren’t any gypsum drywall recycling facilities located near the site, Skanska relentlessly pursued a sustainable solution for recycling the estimated 120 tons of gypsum board waste collected since November 2017.

Our team discovered a sustainable way to recycle the five tons of gypsum drywall produced by grinding it up and distributing it to peanut farmers for their crops.

The team’s extensive research revealed that when ground up, gypsum board products are an agricultural soil amendment for peanut farming that have been used for more than 250 years. Conveniently, Alabama is also home to several peanut farms within the proximity of our project site. Last year, Alabama farmers harvested 189,000 acres of peanuts, producing 400 million pounds valued at $118 million according to the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Before we could start the recycling exchange, the Skanska – Volkert team petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture and received approval to provide the ground gypsum to local peanut farmers. After receiving the government approvals, the farmers happily agreed to accept the ground gypsum board waste to use as a soil conditioner.

To successfully execute this recycling effort, a newly purchased six-inch chipping machine grinds the gypsum board waste into a dumpster contained in a designated area onsite. Then, the dumpsters are transported to the peanut farms where the ground gypsum is spread throughout the fields and tilled into the soil.

As we celebrate Earth Day, we are committed to protecting our communities through sustainable practices, big and small. For more information and resources, visit the Earth Day 2018 website.

Megan O Connell

Megan O Connell

Project Manager Megan O'Connell, LEED AP BD+C, LFA

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Celebrating World Water Day with Eight Tips for Water Conservation

Today, March 22, marks World Water Day and in many developed and developing countries, having a sustainable supply of clean water is still an issue. Currently, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education and livelihoods. Even in the United States, regional droughts have worsened as population growth has strained existing water supplies.

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly announced the inaugural World Water Day and this year, the main goal is to raise awareness of the link between water use and energy, along with delivering the key messages that water supply (a finite resource) is decreasing while demand (from a growing population) is rising, and that saving water means saving energy.

At Skanska, we are committed to proactive environment management. Today, we are sharing personal conservation practices because small actions can mean a big difference when it comes to saving water. Why not challenge our colleagues and peers to save water on World Water Day and create new habits for the long-term?

Water saving ideas include:

1. Run your washing machine or dishwasher only when it is completely full.

2. Install aerators on faucets and low flow shower heads, which can cut water use at those sources in half.

3. Insulate hot water pipes to reduce waiting time.

4. Repair leaks in your toilet, including a leaky tank seal, right away as that can result in hundreds of wasted gallons of water in just a couple days.

5. Replace old toilets with modern low-flow models can cut this usage (and your bill) by up to two-thirds.  However, if you can’t replace your toilet anytime soon, you can still reduce the amount of H2O your toilet uses with this handy trick: put a brick in your tank. No kidding, by putting a brick in your toilet tank, you will reduce the amount of water needed to fill the tank, but it won’t affect flush power. Only do this for old toilets.

6. Set up a rain barrel at the end of your downspout to collect roof runoff.  You can put this on your plants or lawn. Imagine the savings if every building captured rainwater for re-use, rather than letting it run off into wastewater systems.

7. Stop buying bottled water! It takes 3 liters of water to make every 1-liter bottle of water, before the H2O is even put it in.

8. Water the lawn very early in the morning or the evening to minimize evaporation.

Myrrh Caplan

Myrrh Caplan

Skanska USA Director of Green Project Solutions

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Building a Level Playing Field: How Do We Get There?

Women in Construction Week, a campaign by The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) to highlight women as a visible component of the construction industry, runs March 4-10. Follow our conversation on Twitter @SkanskaUSA

Today, only 9% of workers in the U.S. construction industry are women. Yes, you read that correctly. It is a relatively small percentage when compared to other industries.  Why is that?

There is still somewhat of a perception that the construction industry is only for burly guys with hard hats and shovels, digging and operating heavy machinery in all types of weather. This view of the industry has been around for generations. We’ve all seen the cartoons of big guys whistling as a woman walks down the street or images of guys walking beams high in the sky.

The truth is the industry is not the same business it used to be. Construction jobs continue to grow in complexity and scale. It continues to evolve, with an increasing focus on technology and techniques that can streamline processes, improve safety measures and enhance worker productivity, requiring a more diverse set of skills.

Additionally, jobs in the building trades, engineering and design can be lifelong careers that support families, providing employment with competitive wages. Especially with the tremendous opportunity for infrastructure jobs in the U.S. If you don’t believe me, check out this story on construction boom cities in the U.S.

The perceptions that have continued to linger need to change.

How you can help

There has been a great effort to shift the view of the construction workforce, but we still have a way to go. And now is the time. Especially when you consider the opportunities ahead, and much talked about shortage of skilled labor in the trade. According to an estimate by the Associated Builders and Contractors, there are roughly 500,000 unfilled construction jobs.

As an industry, we need to do a better job educating the younger generations in general about construction career opportunities, but in particular, young women so that we can continue to bring in diverse perspectives to strengthen our teams. Kids are impressionable and watch what we do and say.

In lower and middle school, there is no difference between the sexes in math and science based test scores. The same is true in high school, yet the number of boys taking AP type exams to prepare for further degrees in the math and sciences is greater.   Boys outnumber girls 3 to 1 in computer science tests, 1.5 to 1 in Physics and just slightly in Calculus while girls outnumber boys in English, languages and environmental sciences. Women are just as good at math and science as men and just as capable in an engineering field.  Let’s encourage and promote young girls in the field.

What the construction industry can start doing today to create a more level playing field:

Volunteer in your local middle and high schools to encourage young women to seek opportunities in the field

Develop and enforce a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy – not only for employers but for everyone on a job site

Connect with women’s organizations and share job and training opportunities to their members

Facilitate mentor opportunities for women joining the industry

Provide more flexible options for young parents and those responsible for taking care of children with special needs or aging parents

Ensure all crew members have properly fitting personal protective equipment

Make it a priority to hire and work with other subcontractors or venders that are women

Ensure that adequate gender-neutral restroom facilities are available on every job site

In honor of Women in Construction Week, below are thoughts from a selection of female Skanska leaders on their experiences, the industry and what they believe it will take to build an equal playing field:

Lindsay Corotis

Lindsay Corotis

Lindsay Corotis, Vice President, Account Manager at Skanska USA

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Overcoming the Dangers of Highway Work Zones

Construction workers on highway infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and tunnels are exposed to hazards every day. On large sites with a lot of heavy machinery, measures have to be taken to address the risks of workers being struck by distracted motorists, equipment or objects, for instance. As a leading construction and development company, we are uniquely positioned to strive to achieve zero incidents on our sites while also influencing the industry and its stakeholders. We are committed to the safety of our people. It’s important to us that our workers arrive home to their families every day the same way they arrived to work – safe and sound.

The Halo Light, which many Skanksa crews use, is a personal safety system that makes workers more visible, while also increasing their efficiency. The innovative safety device, which attaches to hardhats, provides 360° illumination visible over ¼ mile away in any direction, while lighting the entire task area.

But hazardous elements exist outside the work zone too, especially on large transportation and infrastructure projects. So, as much as we provide rigorous safety plans for our construction project teams, the community needs to be diligent as well. It’s a two-way street.  When you consider that motorists are often asked to drive through a complex array of signs, barrels and lane changes in work zones, driving cautiously can go a long way in keeping both motorists and workers safe.

This time of year, maybe more so than any other season, presents an increased likelihood for incidents. Winter weather conditions can make driving challenging, and shorter daylight hours can impede visibility.

Working with a customer that understands that there are no compromises when it comes to safety makes for a true partner. Creating a safe environment in work zones is critical. It’s a responsibility for the construction company and customer, and having diligent motorists are essential to creating a safe atmosphere for everyone. Working together, we can create work zones with good signage, safety barricades and more to make sure everyone from workers to motorists are safe.

Here are some safety tips for motorists from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration:

Stay alert and minimize distractions. Avoid changing the radio station, using a mobile phone, eating or other activities that can remove your concentration from the road.

Keep your headlights on. In active construction sites, it’s as important the workers see you coming as it is you see them.

Pay attention to the road. Watch brake lights on vehicles ahead. Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react.

Merge into the proper lane. Merge well before you reach the lane closure. Be aware that traffic patterns can change daily.

Don’t tailgate. Follow other vehicles at a safe distance.

Obey the posted speed limit. Workers may be present just feet away. Fines may be double for moving traffic violations. Be prepared to slow down further if conditions indicate the need. If you’re traveling 30 miles, chances are speeding will save you mere seconds of time on your trip while on the freeway. Slowing down in work zones won’t add time to your trip and can save lives. Here’s the math to back it up.

Change lanes safely. Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic conditions permit.

Follow instructions from flaggers. These workers, while vulnerable standing in active moving lanes, are critical to ensure safe passage in a construction zone. Be mindful and cognizant of the directions they are providing, and watch your speed.

Expect the unexpected. Workers, work vehicles, or equipment may enter your lane without warning. Other vehicles may slow, stop, or change lanes unexpectedly.

Be patient. Construction won’t last forever so remember the minor inconvenience you are experiencing or feeling today will be short-lived in comparison to the improvements in the long run.

Being mindful while driving can help save a life. We will do our part to keep everyone safe. We hope drivers will, too.

Clark Peterson

Clark Peterson

Vice President, Environmental, Health and Safety

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Our Most Popular Social Media Posts from 2017

While we always have our sights set on building for a better future, we can’t help but look back at the past year and share the most liked, shared and viewed social media posts from Skanska’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Constructive Thinking blog.

 

Facebook
Energetic Felling of the Kosciuszko Bridge – 15,273 views

 

LinkedIn
Tunnel Boring Machine at our Regional Connector project in Los Angeles – 664 likes

 

Instagram
Removal of the 1880s era Brick Combined Sewer at the American Geophysical Union Project in Washington, D.C. – 1,586 likes

 

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LaGuardia Airport Pile Driving and Foundation Work Kicks Off – 32 likes/16 retweets

 

YouTube
Energetic Felling of the Kosciuszko Bridge – 10,217 views

 

Constructive Thinking blog
Piloting a New Hard Hat – 8,691 views

 

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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