Make the Holidays Happy with Safety in your Stocking

For some of us, the holidays are filled with comical visions of lights that don’t blink, avalanches of snow falling from rooftops onto unsuspecting relatives and kitchen cooking escapades that end in mild disaster. While those might be funny on the movie or TV screen, the holidays can be packed with very real opportunities for serious injury.

On our Skanska USA jobsites, we plan every day to prevent potentially dangerous incidents. We invest in equipment and training so we are always prepared. Failing to carefully consider the downsides of household holiday chores – like stringing outdoor lights or deep frying a turkey – can be just as dangerous.

Here are some ways you can translate jobsite safety to home safety:

Plan for the job before you start – similar to our jobsite Daily Hazard Analysis – including gathering supplies, tools, and protective gear;

Stretch and warm up before carrying heavy objects like trees, presents, and lawn ornaments to their destination;

• Consider the proper protective gear for the job you’re doing, including eye protection and gloves. Depending on the task, respiratory and hearing protection and even a hard hat may also be required;

Keep a first aid kit and fire extinguisher handy – or at least know where they are should you need them;

Rather than climb on the roof or a ladder, hang holiday lights with an extension pole while standing at ground level;

When stringing electrical decorations, use the proper gauge wires and extension cords and be careful not to overload circuits;

Eliminate fire hazards, including open flames from candles and placing Christmas trees too close to heating elements like radiators and baseboards;

• Practice good housekeeping in the kitchen by cleaning clutter from countertops; don’t overcrowd the stove or oven to prevent holiday meals from catching fire or falling from their perch;

Never drive when you are tired or compromised by “holiday cheer;” stay alert by eliminating distractions including cell phones;

• Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Discover more safety tips in this great graphic from the National Safety Council:

2016-infographic-12daysofsafety

A safe holiday is a fun holiday – we hope you enjoy yours!

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.

More Posts - Website

Safety for All Seasons

This time of year, the changing of the seasons in many parts of our country puts Mother Nature at center stage, with leaves turning from crisp greens to golden yellows, oranges and reds.

Soon, many of us will be raking those leaves after they fall from the trees and doing other fall yard work associated with getting ready for the onset of winter.

Strenuous outdoor work also means the potential for injury, including to the back, shoulders and wrists when twisting, bending, lifting, and reaching.  Improper use of lawn tools can sometimes make things worse.

Simple precautions – like stretching, and wearing gloves and safety glasses – are important parts of our backyard routine. Paying attention to the job at hand and eliminating distractions – especially around saws, mowers and hedge trimmers – can further reduce or eliminate injuries and possibly a trip to the doctor.  It’s important we all practice good safety habits at home no matter what the season calls for.

Skanska ID site visit to SKW at Sparrows Point, MD

Safety on our job sites is no different. In the final months of 2016, we’re working to reduce distractions and promote neat and tidy project sites in order to prevent injuries to our employees and our subcontractors.

On job sites, we see distractions in many forms, including: 

• Inattentive equipment or vehicle operators are responsible for a high percentage of incidents where a piece of machinery hits or runs into something;

• Messy site conditions and poor housekeeping contribute to slips, trips, and falls, which comprise a significant number of injuries;

• Preoccupied workers suffer from lacerations and abrasions at an alarming rate as a result of being distracted on the job.

Fall is a wonderful time of year to enjoy with family and friends. Simple precautions when doing outdoor work can help make sure we get to join in the fun.

Paul Haining

Paul Haining

Chief environment, health and safety officer

More Posts - LinkedIn

High above Portland, it’s IFE (with a view)

Nearly 200 feet above SW Broadway in downtown Portland, Alan Jones of Cascade Tower & Rigging can see a number of projects he’s worked on, including the Portland State University (PSU) Academic and Student Recreation Center, completed in 2009.

His main focus from his seat at the controls of a tower crane, though, is the new School of Business building for PSU, working to erect elements of a building that will be a local landmark, mainly for its unique design.

2016-06-07 PHOTO-IFEWithAView2

“As the crews have been pouring concrete, there have been more and more blind picks, where I have to rely heavily on the crew on the ground,” Alan says. “We work together to make sure we have clear communication about what’s needed from the crane.”

Alan has been an operator of different sorts of cranes for decades. Years of experience have helped make certain aspects of his job second nature. He knows how to take the swing out of his line after moving the trolley along the jib with just the right touch on a lever. He can judge how far his hook is from a nearby rooftop at a glance.

Those instincts, paired with a great respect for working safely, show how our trade partners are a key part of our journey to an Injury-Free Environment, or IFE.

“In my career, there have been certain phrases I’ve come to recognize as red flags,” Alan says. “I haven’t heard them on this site, thankfully. But, there have been times when someone on the ground has called up ‘be careful with this one.’ I hear that, I don’t want it on my hook. We’re either going to do the pick safely or not at all.”

From his perch, he’s also had to use his judgment about when conditions will allow for safe operations.

2016-06-07 PHOTO-IFEWithAView1

“We had a day recently where the wind was really going,” Alan says. “I could see and feel how it was affecting the line. I knew if we moved ahead with a pick, there was a good chance we could hit the active pedestrian sky bridge adjacent to our site. I told the crew and we shut down the crane for the day. It was the right decision.”

That sort of technical expertise paired with the willingness to only work safely has made him a valued part of the crew.

“Alan has been a great partner for us,” says Senior Superintendent Jason Koski. “When we’re putting our crews together, he’s the kind of person we always want to have on our team.”

The job has its perks, too. Alan’s happy to show a picture of Mt. Hood at sunrise, something that you can’t see from the street level of downtown Portland, but something he frequently has a front row seat for atop the crane.

“I’ve been working with cranes since I was 17 and my father operated cranes,” Alan says. “There’s just nothing like it.”

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.

More Posts - Website

Safety is Everyone’s Business and Teamwork Makes It Happen

May 2-6 marks Skanska’s 12th annual Safety Week – and the 3rd annual Construction Industry Safety Week, where we and 50 of our peer construction firms pause to take a closer look at how “safety is the thread that ties us together.”  We asked Bill Flemming, President & CEO of Skanska USA building, to share his thoughts on the importance of workplace safety.

As a leader in construction, it’s our obligation to deliver our projects safely, using innovative and sustainable solutions with great efficiency and quality. Creating an Injury Free Environment® – one that sends every worker home every night the same way they came to us in the morning – is of paramount importance. To me, we are not successful if we put our workers at risk to deliver projects. We work safely, or not at all.

2016-05-04 PHOTO-BillFlemming-SafetyWeekNYC

Bill Flemming (center), President and CEO of Skanska Building, tours a NYC project site during Safety Week 2016.

A zero lost-time accident rate doesn’t happen by chance. It takes thoughtful planning and execution to ensure the safety of everyone involved. After the work is done, acknowledging what went well – and identifying what didn’t – leads to better preparations for the next time. We are continually raising the bar on how we work to create the safest work environment possible.

Safety extends beyond the job site as well, into our offices and our homes. Sometimes the simplest and most repetitive of tasks are the ones that present the most overlooked dangers. Making safety a part of our everyday habits – for ourselves and our friends and families – will also get us to a zero accidents.

Two years ago, I asked everyone at Skanska USA Building to make a personal safety pledge. At the same time, I made a pledge to visit more of our projects with the purpose of talking to our workers about the importance of safety.

For Safety Week this year, I visited job sites with my peers from Hunter Roberts and Lend Lease, and we talked about the importance of safety in everything we do. We agreed that anything that makes our sites safer was worth doing together in full collaboration.  Moving forward, we will be developing a unified orientation program that can apply to all three organizations, which will save each firm from doing individual programs for a new employee. This cross-company approach will make our workers safer and provide more consistency to our safety protocols.

On those job site visits this week, I also witnessed, first-hand, the lengths our workers go to in creating an injury-free environment on our projects. Their dedication to safety was inspiring and tells me we can get to zero accidents on all of our job sites all the time.  It takes everyone committed to making it happen.

Bill Flemming

Bill Flemming

President, Skanska USA Building

More Posts - Website - LinkedIn

Observing Safety Week: Ladders Last

May 2-6 marks Skanska’s 12th annual Safety Week – and the 3rd annual Construction Industry Safety Week, where we and 50 of our peer construction firms pause to take a closer look at how “safety is the thread that ties us together.”  This year, Skanska is putting a special focus on ladders, which are often connected to injuries throughout our industry. Whether you are a professional in the industry or doing work around your home, the below infographic demonstrates the hazards presented by working with ladders and some alternatives to working at height. 

2016-04 INFOGRAPHIC-LaddersLast-FINAL

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.

More Posts - Website

Leadership Sets the Tone for Safety

May 2-6 marks Skanska’s 12th annual Safety Week – and the 3rd annual Construction Industry Safety Week, where we and 50 of our peer construction firms pause to take a closer look at how “safety is the thread that ties us together.”  To kick off this important week-long observation, we asked Rich Cavallaro, President & CEO of Skanska USA, to share his thoughts on the role of executive leadership in promoting a culture of safety. 

2016-05-02 PHOTO-RichCavallaroSafetyWeek

As President & CEO of Skanska USA, I believe that, for safety to be a priority, it’s up to me to set the first example. Because if leaders create the right culture, employees will see results, right down to every worker on every project site.

A Brave Decision

Several years ago, a subcontractor who had just completed work on one of our our sites moved on to a job on a competitor’s site, literally across the street from our project. He came to us asking for help. The subcontractor appreciated our approach to safety and asked us to share tips with the contractors at his new project, because he felt their commitment to safety stopped after simply saying the right things. He was hoping we would put aside competitive interests in pursuit of helping everyone work more safely.

It was incredibly brave of this subcontractor to approach us like this. And we agreed with what he was trying to accomplish. So our project team agreed to have the conversation with the competitor.  To me, it was simply the right thing to do – and speaks to the type of culture leaders can create where every person truly is empowered to speak up for safety. If leadership across our industry feels the same, we can create the same culture on every job site in the country.

Things that save lives shouldn’t be trade secrets.

If a Skanska project team has a chance to make a difference across the industry, sharing that information is the right thing to do. Similarly, listening to suggestions from outside, whether from our own crews or our competitors, is just as important. Every leader at Skanska is working to make sure we’re living that culture, even if it means tough decisions when we see potentially unsafe actions. Living that expectation, by every company and worker on every project, will make a difference.

Safety is what ties us all together.

As a participant in the annual Construction Industry Safety Week, we can help do our part to reinforce that incident-free work in construction shouldn’t be an exception. Instead, it should be an expectation. For Safety Week, we have planned a series of specific activities in every region of the country designed to help reinforce our company’s focus on safety.

The spirit of Safety Week comes alive when we work together to take steps that help save lives. Together, we must set the cultural expectations for working in our industry. Because in the absence of leadership, safety cultures will fail.  If we choose to lead, we can prove that construction doesn’t have to be dangerous work.

Richard Cavallaro

Richard Cavallaro

President and CEO, Skanska USA

More Posts - Website - LinkedIn

In Airport World, how airports can maintain security during construction

Transportation security is increasingly a critical concern that contractors must help manage, as so many U.S. airports have renovation and expansion projects underway. Early planning is essential to this necessary element of airport building.

“Thinking about airport security must begin before stepping foot on the construction site, as parties look to address security concerns during pre-construction,” says Dwight Pullen, national director of Skanska USA’s Aviation Center of Excellence.

TPA_MTAC_LR_003

At Tampa International Airport, we are focused on helping maintain a secure environment and uninterrupted airport operations in our work expanding the main terminal.

In a recent Airport World article, Dwight shared his thoughts on how to ensure uninterrupted security during construction. This includes engaging and communicating with stakeholders to keep airport operations fully functional. As Dwight notes, “construction simply must not create vulnerabilities in an airport’s security system. Rather, contractors have to partner with owners to plan effectively, coordinating with the [Transportation Security Administration], airport operations and other stakeholders to maintain operability and be secure on all fronts, starting with the technology we use on the job site.”

You can read more on how to minimize risk and enable a secure environment during aviation construction on pages 43-44 of the October issue of Airport World: http://issuu.com/airportworldmagazine/docs/aw5-2015.

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.

More Posts - Website

Taking aerial work platform safety to new heights

The single greatest risk on a construction site is falling, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Skanska and other leading builders are striving to eliminate that risk, in part by reducing the use of ladders on our project sites. A safer and more flexible solution is aerial work platforms, but even with AWPs, the number of serious accidents is astonishing. So Skanska is pushing the industry for higher levels of AWP safety.

In 2013, the most recent year for which the International Powered Access Federation has compiled data, AWPs accounted for 53 fatalities worldwide, including 30 deaths in the U.S. Specific causes of those fatalities included AWPs overturning and operators being electrocuted, falling and being trapped while at the controls. Those numbers frustrate and sadden me, because those deaths were all preventable.  How can Skanska help drive the change needed in our industry to eliminate jobsite incidents?

Transbay 1 (1)

These crew members who are part of our project erecting 24,000 tons of superstructure steel for San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center work from an aerial work platform equipped with anti-entrapment technology.

An important step we’re taking is that by the end of this year, all AWPs on Skanska USA project sites – both owned, rented and through trade partners – must be equipped with active anti-entrapment technology. By this, I chiefly mean a pressure-sensitive strip that’s installed above or below the control panel, so that if the operator is pinned against an overhead object that pushes his or her chest down on that panel, the machine stops working and sounds an alarm, and might even retract slightly.

We’ve been able to get AWP manufacturers and major equipment rental companies to update their fleets with anti-entrapment technology by joining on this issue with 11 other major U.S. contractors. Now, with so much of the industry demanding anti-entrapment technology, it is on its way to becoming standard. That will both improve safety and lower the technology’s cost, and it will level the playing field for all of us. The AWPs on many Skanska project sites already meet this requirement.

Skanska is already looking to do more with AWP safety. For instance, we’re testing wearable sensors that would shut off an AWP if it comes in close proximity with a pinch point. I’m excited about these advances, but let me emphasize that technology alone will not end incidents. At the heart of an Injury-Free Environment® is a workforce that genuinely cares for their own safety and the safety of those around them. We as leaders – and we’re all leaders in some way – need to do everything we can to build that culture of caring.

Paul Haining

Paul Haining

Chief environment, health and safety officer

More Posts - LinkedIn

How technology is improving project safety

It may not be something the average person thinks about on a daily basis, but technology plays an important role in making our lives safer. For instance, Volvo – the Swedish-based company and leader in automotive safety – recently stated that its goal for 2020 is “that no one is killed or injured in a Volvo.” This may seem like a lofty goal, but the development of crash avoidance and predictive technologies – along with other innovative safety features – make this a realistic target. Skanska believes that technology is critical to eliminating deaths and injuries on construction projects too.

One technology that we see as key to achieving our Injury-Free Environment® goal is building information modeling. Multi-dimensional BIM models clearly convey what is to be built: this improves design and construction efficiency, but more importantly BIM helps enable safer construction processes and provide for safer operation and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure. These latter two aspects are part of a far-reaching approach called “Safety by Design,” which focuses on considering safety impacts when making design selections.

Identifying trip hazards virtually

Building information models can help identify safety risks during design, so they can be eliminated instead of just mitigated. Here, a trip hazard has been identified virtually.

“Safety should be considered from the beginning of design – safety as it relates to occupants of the building and for those who operate and maintain the building, as well as safety for those who construct the building,” said David Korman, environment, health and safety director.

Added Albert Zulps, virtual design and construction regional director: “We can help plan for a safer project even before we break ground.”

The benefits of focusing on safety in design can be tremendous, as at that early project phase risks can be eliminated, instead of having to be mitigated. For instance, designing an exterior facade that can be fully installed from inside the building – rather than via exterior scaffolding or aerial lifts – reduces the potential for an accident. Likewise, making the choice early on that if a valve must be located high in the ceiling, that it’s provided with a chain wheel to allow operation from the ground – rather than requiring a facilities professional to reach it while high on a ladder – also reduces accident risk. BIM is an important part of testing such design options with safety in mind.

Such virtual models continue to deliver benefits into construction. For instance, a model can help ensure that a structural frame is properly braced all throughout the erection process. And by using a 4-D animation of construction sequencing, the location of cranes can be optimized to minimize overhead risk and conflicts with such hazards as overhead high tension wires. Additional ways BIM can enhance construction safety include creating virtual safety tours; enhanced site planning for egress, emergency routing and first aid; project-wide safety planning; pre-task planning; and investigating accidents when they do happen.

Other types of project technologies are also evolving rapidly. Before too long, safety will be improved by the wide use of everything from augmented reality to wearable technology. For example, safety information and hazard notification may be overlaid on safety goggles in real time, along with 3-D model information and analytics. With this, a worker walking through a space will quickly know key aspects of the surroundings, both now and in the future. Also, as wearable technologies become more prevalent, GPS location devices may link to 3-D site models to alert both the worker and the site safety team of potential dangers, and to track activity for continual optimization of construction site safety.

In June, Dave and Albert will present at the American Society of Safety Engineers’ Safety 2015 conference in Dallas on “Virtual Design and Construction for Safer Construction Projects.” Their presentation will overview how models and data can be used to enhance safety on construction projects and during operations. They will highlight examples from Skanska projects, and discuss what is on the horizon to improve construction safety using current and future technology.

We hope to see you there!

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.

More Posts - Website

What can we learn about risks from pro cyclist Danny MacAskill?

It’s mesmerizing to watch Danny MacAskill defy gravity on his bike. Danny, for those who don’t already know, is a fellow Scot who is a professional trials cyclist – he completes extremely high-risk obstacle courses on his bike. And what obstacles he overcomes: On videos that have attracted tens of millions of views on YouTube, you can watch Danny jump boulders on his way down a rocky mountain side; hop his bike from one abandoned railroad track to another, spinning to change direction in mid-air; and do a front flip on his bike over a barbed-wire fence.

rb-macaskill-253

Danny MacAskill thoroughly prepares for the high-risk obstacle courses he undertakes. Similarly, in construction we must relentlessly identify and mitigate the risks faced by project teams.

Photo Credit: DannyMacAskill.co.uk

There’s a great deal of risk in what Danny does – that’s why so many people watch him ride. It’s worth understanding how he recognizes and prepares for those risks, as there are key parallels in risk identification and mitigation between Danny’s riding and what we do every day in construction – and in everyday life. In all cases, not being vigilant to the risks that surround us all too often lead to serious consequences.

Seeing risks

Here’s what Danny has to say about planning for his tricks: “When I’m first thinking about doing a line, you’re actually thinking about the worst-case scenario that’s going to happen. You think about the different crashes and possibilities. You’re constantly assessing what you’re doing – your mind can definitely play games with you.”

Construction should be approached in the same way. Every possible risk needs to be identified, analyzed and with detailed plans put in place and responsibilities assigned to mitigate the risk. Look-ahead meetings, daily briefings and construction work plans are key parts of this on our job sites. Tasks at home must be given the same consideration.

Sometimes, confidence can blind people to risks. Each day’s activities must be approached as distinct undertakings requiring comprehensive risk evaluations.

Managing risk

Danny only moves ahead with a trick when he’s fully ready. Here’s what he had to say about that in another interview: “I tend not to do things that I’m scared of. I try to have things completely sorted in my head beforehand. I have to be 100 percent clear that I’m going to do the trick I’m going to do.”

Beyond mental awareness, Danny prepares in other ways. He lays out the stunts he wants to do sometimes months ahead of time. Then he practices his moves, sometimes using practice ramps and setting up mats to cushion his falls. He always has the proper equipment, including a helmet and gloves.

To mitigate jobsite risks on a daily basis, Skanska uses the construction work plans that we – in partnership with crew leaders – develop for each activity and review every day. We manage the risks identified in these plans through any of the large collection of tried and tested controls we’ve developed over many years for jobsite- and activity-specific hazards: everything from critical crane lifts to working at extreme heights to simply wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task at hand. If we disrespect these risk mitigation tools, then we’re disrespecting the risk they’re designed to control. That risk doesn’t go away, and when not controlled it comes back with consequence.

I’ve seen high-risk projects achieve superior safety performance because the project team is constantly aware of and fully respects the inherent risk at all times. When the right level of respect is given, the team watches out for the risk every waking minute.

Genuine care

While processes and strategies are essential for dealing with risks and hazards, what’s also key is genuine care: When the construction industry reaches the point at which each person on a jobsite genuinely cares for their own well-being and that of the people around them, then it will be possible to eliminate worker injury. We’re getting closer to that point, as demonstrated by the more than 40 companies sponsoring this year’s industry Safety Week. These firms – including Skanska – are putting competition aside to work together to improve safety, demonstrating the type of big-hearted approach we all need as individuals.

Paul Haining

Paul Haining

Chief environment, health and safety officer

More Posts - LinkedIn