Keeping Construction Workers Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Every construction project is different and unique, and what is feasible and appropriate for any one
    project will depend on its unique characteristics. That said, the prevention tips that construction
    contractors may want to implement, include the following:

    • Any employee/contractor/visitor showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to leave
    the jobsite and return home.
    • Safety meetings will be by telephone, if possible. If safety meetings are conducted in-person,
    attendance will be collected verbally and the foreman/superintendent will sign-in each
    attendee. Attendance will not be tracked through passed-around sign-in sheets or mobile
    devices. During any in-person safety meetings, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10
    people and participants must remain at least six (6) feet apart.
    • Employees must avoid physical contact with others and shall direct others
    (employees/contractors/visitors) to increase personal space to at least six (6) feet, where
    possible. Where work trailers are used, only necessary employees should enter the trailers
    and all employees should maintain social distancing while inside the trailers.
    • All in-person meetings will be limited. To the extent possible, meetings will be conducted by
    • Employees will be encouraged to stagger breaks and lunches, if practicable, to reduce the
    size of any group at any one time to less than ten (10) people.
    • The Company understands that due to the nature of its work, access to running water for
    hand washing may be impracticable. In these situations, the Company will provide, if
    available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and/or wipes.
    • Employees should limit the use of co-workers’ tools and equipment. To the extent tools
    must be shared, the Company will provide alcohol-based wipes to clean tools before and
    after use. When cleaning tools and equipment, consult manufacturing recommendations for
    proper cleaning techniques and restrictions.
    • Employees are encouraged to limit the need for N95 respirator use, by using engineering and
    work practice controls to minimize dust. Such controls include the use of water delivery and
    dust collection systems, as well as limiting exposure time.
    • The Company will divide crews/staff into two (2) groups where possible so that projects can
    continue working effectively in the event that one of the divided teams is required to
    • As part of the division of crews/staff, the Company will divide employees into dedicated
    shifts, at which point employees will remain with their dedicated shifts for the reminder of
    the project. If there is a legitimate reason for an employee to change shifts, the Company
    will have sole discretion in making that alteration.

    • Employees are encouraged to minimize ride-sharing. While in vehicles, employees must
    ensure adequate ventilation.
    • If practicable, each employee should use/drive the same truck or piece of equipment every
    • In lieu of using a common source of drinking water, such as a cooler, employees should use
    individual water bottles.
    Workers entering Occupied Building and Homes
    • Construction and maintenance activities within occupied homes, office buildings, and other
    establishments, present unique hazards with regards to COVID-19 exposures. Everyone
    working within such establishments should evaluate the specific hazards when determining
    best practices related to COVID-19.
    • During this work, employees must sanitize the work areas upon arrival, throughout the
    workday, and immediately before departure. The Company will provide alcohol-based wipes
    for this purpose.
    • Employees should ask other occupants to keep a personal distance of six (6) feet at a
    minimum. Workers should wash or sanitize hands immediately before starting and after
    completing the work.
    Job Site Visitors
    • The number of visitors to the job site, including the trailer or office, will be limited to only
    those necessary for the work.
    • All visitors will be screened in advance of arriving on the job site. If the visitor answers
    “yes” to any of the following questions, he/she should not be permitted to access the
    o Have you been confirmed positive for COVID-19?
    o Are you currently experiencing, or recently experienced, any acute respiratory illness
    symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath?
    o Have you been in close contact with any persons who has been confirmed positive
    for COVID-19?
    o Have you been in close contact with any persons who have traveled and are also
    exhibiting acute respiratory illness symptoms?
    • Site deliveries will be permitted but should be properly coordinated in line with the
    employer’s minimal contact and cleaning protocols. Delivery personnel should remain in
    their vehicles if at all possible.
    Keeping Construction Workers Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Page 3 of 3
    Personal Protective Equipment and Work Practice Controls
    • In addition to regular PPE for workers engaged in various tasks (fall protection, hard hats,
    hearing protection), the Company will also provide:
    o Gloves: Gloves should be worn at all times while on-site. The type of glove worn
    should be appropriate to the task. If gloves are not typically required for the task,
    then any type of glove is acceptable, including latex gloves. Employees should avoid
    sharing gloves.
    o Eye protection: Eye protection should be worn at all times while on-site.
    o NOTE: The CDC is currently not recommending that healthy people wear N95
    respirators to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Nevertheless, employees should
    wear N95 respirators if required by the work and if available.
    • Due to the current shortage of N95 respirators, the following Work Practice Controls
    should be followed:
    o Keep dust down by using engineering and work practice controls, specifically
    through the use of water delivery and dust collection systems.
    o Limit exposure time to the extent practicable.
    o Isolate workers in dusty operations by using a containment structure or distance to
    limit dust exposure to those employees who are conducting the tasks, thereby
    protecting nonessential workers and bystanders.
    • Institute a rigorous housekeeping program to reduce dust levels on the jobsite

  2. Social Distancing on Jobsites

    Gilbane Looks to Social Distancing on Jobsites and Finding the New Normal

    Working during a pandemic prompts new approaches

    The Proximity Trace wearable tag from Triax Technologies is custom-designed to promote social distancing and provide contact-tracing information for jobsites operating during the pandemic.

    Image Courtesy of Triax Technologies

    April 22, 2020

    [For ENR’s latest coverage of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, click here]

    “We’ve got it deployed on one job already, and it’s going to be beneficial for projects that are starting back up,” he says. “Right now it’s one more tool in the tool chest.”

    The Proximity Trace wearable tag made by Triax Technologies is a variation on the company’s Spot-r safety monitoring tag that had already been used on an ad-hoc basis for monitoring monitoring social distancing on jobsites. But Pelkey wanted something more purpose-built to deal with operating jobsites under the threat of COVID-19.

    “I reached out to them and I found that they were on the same page I was,” says Pelkey. “I think there’s a use case for IoT to work for social distancing, since it’s all about knowing where people are.”

    Triax Technologies existing Spot-r tag can detect when workers experience a sudden fall and also locate them on a jobsite within predefined zones. For the new social-distancing tag, the Proximity Trace fits onto a standard hardhat with a 3D-printed mounting clip, and unlike the Spot-r does not need mesh network base stations set up at the site. The tag beeps when it detects another tag nearby, and internally logs all other tags it encounters, reporting them to a web-based portal when it syncs with a unit at the site’s entrance gate. The audible alarm can be deactivated for a preset period with a button press for specific tasks that require multiple workers to be close together. Developed and manufactured in less than a month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Triax has already begun shipping the tags out to customers.

    “It has some of the same internal components but it’s an entirely new product,” says Robert Costantini, CEO of Triax Technologies. “No location data is being collected, what it collects is interactions. We’re looking to balance the privacy needs of workers while helping them get back to work.”

    Pelkey has already deployed the Proximity Trace on a hospital jobsite in New Jersey that was deemed to be essential construction. “That job currently has 120 people working on it, which is a fraction of the size it was prior to this,” he says. Pelkey plans to roll them out to other Gilbane sites across the country. “We have six other jobs already in queue to deploy these on, we think it will help them with their crews,” he says.

    In addition to reminding the wearers that they may be standing too close, the tags also provide invaluable data for contact tracing if someone on the jobsite tests positive for COVID-19. “The contact tracing is an important aspect for us: the faster you can track, the better. It provides us with that information much faster than checking daily work logs and making educated guesses,” says Pelkey.

    Finding the New Normal

    But a few beeping tags alone won’t solve the broader problem of running construction sites while an infectious disease is running rampant. Pelkey says it will take more than a few clever technology products to stay ahead of the COVID-19 virus. “The stuff we’re doing now—temperature checks for workers, smaller crew sizes, distributing work through multiple shifts, separating out the work schedule—those are all going to become normal things now.”

    Pelkey says Gilbane is considering how they can adjust their scheduling going forward to avoid having very large crew sizes all packed into the same area. “Owners are asking us, subcontractors are asking us, ‘what are you going to do to keep the jobsite safe?’”

    It won’t just be a matter of dictating new approaches, but uprooting a lot of current jobsite culture, he adds. “Our safety team is spending a lot of time doing that, breaking bad habits and trying to change the culture,” he says. “They have to explain to people that the way you were working before was fine, but now it all has to happen 6 ft apart.”

    Pelkey hopes other construction technology makers will step up with new ideas, but he stresses that general contractors and other project stakeholders need to step up and re-evaluate their own practices. “Things like how do we better structure work packets, crew assignments, and scheduling—we don’t have a ready-made solution for that,” he says.

    Scheduling software can help with that workload, but having to redo everything to meet social distancing often falls to some low-tech solutions. “I’ve pushed a few [software] vendors on this but no takers so far. The way these new [crew assignments] are managed today require a superintendent to sit down and say ‘OK this crew is here’ with a greaseboard,” says Pelkey.

    Going forward, Pelkey says the industry is going to have to distinguish between the sort of short-term triage being done to work through projects already underway and the new business practices that may be needed for projects yet to start. “For the jobs already going because they are essential jobs, the teams there are down in the trenches and don’t have time to thing about these big ideas. What we need to do is start thinking about what we are going to do in the future.

    Recent Articles By Jeff Rubenstone

  3. How Fungi can help create a green construction industry

    How fungi can help create a green construction industry

    Ian Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Leeds Beckett University
    The Conversation
    Hy-Fi, The Living, MoMA. Jessica Sheridan/FlickrCC BY-SA

    The world of fungi has attracted a lot of interest and seems to be becoming very fashionable of late. A new exhibition at Somerset House in London, for example, is dedicated to “the remarkable mushroom”. No surprise: we’re being promised that mushrooms may be the key to a sustainable future in fields as diverse as fashiontoxic spill clean ups, mental health and construction. It’s in this last field that my own interests lie.

    Climate change is the fundamental design problem of our time: buildings are hugely complicit in the crisis. Together, buildings and construction contribute 39% of the world’s carbon footprint. Energy used to heat, cool and light buildings accounts for 28% of these emissions: households are the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases since 2015, accounting for a quarter of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

    The remaining 11% of buildings’ carbon emissions consists of those associated with construction and building materials. The UK construction industry, for example, uses around 400 million tonnes of materials each year and approximately 100 million tonnes become waste. Cement alone is responsible for a whopping 8% of global CO₂ emissions. Compare this to the much maligned global aviation industry, which emits 2% of all human-induced CO₂ emissions. Buildings and, by association, the construction industry, are profoundly responsible for climate change.

    <span class="caption">Cement – the key ingredient of concrete – is responsible for an astonishing 8% of all carbon emissions.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash">Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash</a>, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:FAL">FAL</a></span>
    Cement – the key ingredient of concrete – is responsible for an astonishing 8% of all carbon emissions. Ricardo Gomez Angel/UnsplashFAL

    There is evidently a real need for the construction industry to reduce the impact of its material and energy use and to take part in the transition towards a more sustainable economy by researching and using alternative materials. This is not an absurd ask: such materials already exist.

    Mushroom materials

    And yes, one such material happens to be derived from fungi: mycelium composites. This material is created by growing mycelium – the thread-like main body of a fungus – of certain mushroom-producing fungi on agricultural wastes.

    Mycelium are mainly composed of a web of filaments called “hyphae”, which acts as a natural binder, growing to form huge networks called “mycelia”. These grow by digesting nutrients from agricultural waste while bonding to the surface of the waste material, acting as a natural self-assembling glue. The entire process uses biological growth rather than expensive, energy intensive manufacturing processes.

    <span class="caption">Close-up image of mycelium showing interwoven fine hyphae.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">© Ian Fletcher</span></span>
    Close-up image of mycelium showing interwoven fine hyphae. © Ian Fletcher

    Mycelium materials offer an exciting opportunity to upcycle agricultural waste into a low-cost, sustainable and biodegradable material alternative. This could potentially reduce the use of fossil fuel dependant materials. The materials are low-density, making them very light compared to other materials used in construction. They also have excellent thermal and fire resistant properties.

    Fungal architecture

    To date, mycelium materials have been used in a number of inventive ways in building projects. One particular company of note is The Living, a New York based architectural firm which designed an organic mycelium tower known as “Hy-Fi” in the courtyard of MoMA’s PS1 space in midtown Manhattan. Designed as part of MoMA’s Young Architects Program, the structure illustrates the potential of this biodegradable material, in this case made from farm waste and cultured fungus grown in brick-shaped moulds.

    <span class="caption">Mae Ling Lokko, Mushroom Panels and Pentagram interactive work. Part of Somerset House exhibition: Mushrooms The Art Design and Future of Fungi.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">© Mark Blower</span></span>
    Mae Ling Lokko, Mushroom Panels and Pentagram interactive work. Part of Somerset House exhibition: Mushrooms The Art Design and Future of Fungi. © Mark Blower

    Another project of note is MycoTree, a spatial branching structure made out of load-bearing mycelium components. This research project was constructed as the centrepiece for the “Beyond Mining – Urban Growth” exhibition at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017 in Seoul, Korea. The project illustrates a provocative vision of how building materials made from mycelium can achieve structural stability. This opens up the possibility of using the material structurally and safely within the construction industry.

    Mycelium materials have also been analysed for uses ranging from acoustic absorbers, formed packaging materials and building insulation. And NASA is currently researching using mycelium to build habitable dwellings on Mars.

    Recycled buildings

    I am investigating the development of mycelium materials using locally sourced materials such as wheat straw. Wheat straw is a cheap and abundant source of waste in the Yorkshire region, so would be a fantastic raw material for construction. My main objective is to develop a material for use in non-load bearing applications, such as internal wall construction and façade cladding. The material displays similar structural properties to those of natural materials like wood.

    <span class="caption">Close-up image of mycelium of P. ostreatus growing around wheat straw.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">© Ian Fletcher</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span>
    Close-up image of mycelium of P. ostreatus growing around wheat straw. © Ian FletcherAuthor provided

    The development of mycelium materials from locally sourced agricultural waste could reduce the construction industry’s reliance on traditional materials, which could improve its carbon footprint. Mycelium composite manufacturing also has the potential to be a major driving force in developing new bioindustries in rural areas, generating sustainable economic growth while creating new jobs.

    The construction industry is faced with a choice. It must be revolutionised. If we carry with business as usual, we must live with the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change.

    Click here to subscribe to our climate action newsletter. Climate change is inevitable. Our response to it isn’t.

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

    The Conversation
    The Conversation

    Ian Fletcher does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


    Mace Group builds working on top of under-construction skyscrapers

    The six-story factories eliminated the need for tower cranes, and increased productivity to the point where crews could complete 18 floors in 18 weeks.

    AUGUST 05, 2019 |
    Prefab factory in the sky: Mace Group built working factories on top of under-construction high rises

    U.K.-based general contractor Mace Group built working factories on top of two high rises while they were under construction in Stratford, England. The 47,355-cubic-meter factories allowed Mace to complete 18 stories in 18 weeks. Matt Gough, Mace’s Director of Innovation and Work Winning, says the factories were “cost neutral.” Photo: Mace Group


    Mace Group is London’s largest contractor, and has been associated with some of that city’s signature projects, including its 95-story skyscraper The Shard; the 443-foot-high cantilevered observation wheel known as London Eye; and Heathrow Terminal 5, which at nearly four million sf on 640 acres is the largest freestanding structure in the United Kingdom.

    Since its inception in 1990, Mace has explored where production and construction might intersect. That inquest is suddenly urgent today, as U.K. cities will need 10,500 new homes to be built per month every year through 2038. To meet that demand, the country’s construction industry must rev up its productivity by 30%.

    Recently, Mace took a step toward shifting from construction to production when it literally built factories on top of two under-construction residential towers in Stratford. Workers within those factories poured concrete, and assembled and installed prefab MEP systems, bathroom pods, risers, and façade components. The firm showcased its factory during a presentation at Autodesk University in London in June.



    The six-story factories each weighed 510 tons and were 35 meters wide, 41 meters long, and 33 meters high. Some of their spaces were dedicated to materials delivery, façade installation, and assembling sub-assemblies. The structural engineer Davies Maguire helped Mace figure out how the building would manage that weight load.


    BD+C AEC Innovators, Mace Group, prefab factories in the sky, high-rise constructionPhoto: Mace Group


    Matt Gough, Mace’s Director of Innovation and Work Winning, tells BD+C that the factories were “cost neutral” in that they eliminated the need for tower cranes, and increased productivity to the point where crews could complete 18 floors in 18 weeks. The factories reduced the project’s transportation by 40%, and its waste by 75% compared to a more conventional construction site. This project’s “gross value added” per worker, at £80 ($101.41) per hour worked, was higher than the U.K.’s average for construction and manufacturing.

    “We changed the process for delivering high rises,” says Gough, even as it struggled at first to get some trades to work “in a different way.”


    SEE ALSO: Upbrella Construction builds the roof of a structure early in the construction process, and then raise it up as the building progresses


    In January, Mace handed over the two residential towers to their developer, a joint venture between Qatari Diar and Delancey. Stratford is Mace’s sole project with onsite factories. The contractor is open to doing more projects like it in the U.K. and elsewhere (it has a construction management office in New York). Mace’s goal is to be “manufacturing” 85% of its projects 50% faster by 2022 via just-in-time logistics and sharper site management abetted by technology.

    The contractor is doing modular construction on some projects, and intends to rely more on offsite prefabrication, which could result in safer jobsites with fewer workers needed.




    How do you construct one floor of a building in just 55 hours? At N08, our project at East Village in Stratford, Mace used the ‘rising factories’ – an new method – to deliver a step change in productivity and efficiency. Watch our latest video:

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    BD+C AEC Innovators, chart displays the benefits of Mace Group's patented prefab factory construction techniqueZInfographic: Mace Group



    By  August 23, 2019

    Whether it’s your alma mater, a local team, or a family tradition, college football fans bleed their team’s colors and logos. There are 125 Division 1 football teams spread out across the United States. Some cheer to beat rivalries, some cheer for pride, and some cheer for national titles. Then, their favorite players move on to play in the most expensive professional stadiums in sports.

    To honor the start of the college football season, here are the facts behind the stadiums of the top 5 teams from the Associated Press preseason rankings.

    1. Clemson Tigers

    clemson tigers

    Name: Memorial Stadium

    Built: 1942

    Capacity: 81,500


    • It was designed by a Clemson graduate, Carl Lee, and Professor H.E. Glenn of the engineering facility. Originally 20,500 seats, the original stadium is now the lower south grandstand of the current stadium.

    • Most of the original construction work was done by scholarship athletes. Two football team members, A.N. Cameron and Hugh Webb, staked out the stadium. The stadium has gone through renovations over the years and now seats 81,500.

    • Clemson Memorial Stadium is often referred to as “Death Valley,” which is named after the Death Valley National Park in California and the Clemson University cemetery that used to overlook the field before the upper decks were built.

    2. Alabama Crimson Tide

    Name: Bryant-Denny Stadium

    Built: 1929

    Capacity: 101,821


    • When completed in 1929, Bryant-Denny Stadium only had a capacity of 12,000. The original name is Denny Stadium in honor of the school’s president from 1912 to 1932, George H. Denny. In 1975, former coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s name was added to the stadium.

    • Since opening, Bryant-Denny Stadium has gone through renovations to increase the seating capacity 11 times. Today, at 101,821 seats, it’s the eighth-largest stadium in the world but only fourth-largest in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

    • Unlike most stadiums, Bryant-Denny Stadium didn’t have a logo at midfield until 2002. The school wanted to have a traditional field design with the only logos being “ALABAMA” in the end zone.

    3. Georgia Bulldogs

    Name: Sanford Stadium

    Built: 1929

    Capacity: 95,723


    • Because the original Sanford Field was too small, the team had to travel to Georgia Tech’s Grant Field in every year to play its rivalry game. After a loss to their rival, Sanford vowed to “build a stadium bigger than Tech.”

    • To fund the stadium, Sanford had members of the athletic association sign notes guaranteeing a bank loan. Whoever contributed would get lifetime seats. The stadium got funding in 1928 and cost $360,000 to build.

    • With the open west end-zone view of the rolling hills, Sanford Stadium is referred to as the most beautiful on-campus stadium in college football. It’s also one of college football’s loudest and most intimidating stadiums.

    4. Oklahoma Sooners

    Name: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

    Built: 1923

    Capacity: 86,112


    • Designed by architectural firm Layton & Hicks, Gaylord Family Oklahoma Stadium is the 23rd largest stadium in the world. It’s currently undergoing a two-phase, $160 million renovations to add a press box, club seats, new facade, offices, and training center.

    • After 16,000 seats were built in 1925, the stadium was named Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in honor of the students and faculty that died during WWI.

    • Coach Bennie Owen raised the money himself to build the stadium, which cost $293,000. The playing surface is named Owen Field, but the stadium itself is also commonly referred to as Owen Field.

    5. Ohio State Buckeyes

    Name: Ohio Stadium

    Built: 1922

    Capacity: 102,082


    • The previous stadium, Ohio Field, became too small for the growing popularity of football in Ohio. The project to build a new stadium was funded by a public-subscription campaign, raising over $1.1 million.

    • Designed by architect Howard Dwight Smith, the stadium was built with 66,210 seats, making it the largest concrete poured structure in the world at the time. After renovations over the years, it now has a seating capacity of 102,082.

    • To build the stadium, Smith used revolutionary techniques. There is a slurry wall at the stadiums base to keep out water from the Olentangy River, the upper deck was designed to hang over part of the lower deck, and double columns to allow for more space between columns.

  6. OSHA’s Winter Safety Tips

    1. Monitor Physical Conditions

    Working in a cold environment can cause various adverse effects on the human body and its ability to perform, and it can increase the risk of common hazards and cold-associated injuries. To maintain healthy temperatures in colder environments, the body is required to work harder, but when temperatures drop drastically and wind chill increases, heat is apt to leave the body more rapidly. The ability to quickly recognize the symptoms of cold stress is important for preventing cold-related injuries. According to OSHA, cold stress occurs by driving down the skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature, or core temperature. Common risk factors for cold stress include but are not limited to wetness/dampness (e.g. sweating), dressing improperly, exhaustion and poor physical conditioning.

    While it is important to be aware of your own physical conditions on the jobsite, it is also imperative that you pay close attention to your fellow coworkers’ well-being in order to best prevent any cold-related injuries on them as well.

    2. Wear Appropriate Clothing

    A main preventative of cold stress is dressing appropriately for the weather conditions. When low temperatures and adverse environmental surroundings cannot be avoided, there is apparel that will ensure you are properly equipped for the cold:

    • Multiple layers for better insulation and wind protection
    • Looser clothing that will not inhibit warm blood from circulating throughout the body
    • Mask to cover the face, mouth and neck
    • Warm hat to reduce the amount of heat released through the head
    • Insulated gloves
    • Insulated, waterproof boots for foot protection

    When incorporating these items into your winter jobsite wardrobe, high visibility clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) must still be worn. It is common this time of year that the day begins beautifully with sunny, warm temperatures but ends with a below-freezing snow. Therefore, it is important to remember that, as we add or remove clothing, jackets and coveralls throughout the day, we always maintain our high-visibility clothing on the outer-most layer.

    Pro Tip: For cold stress prevention and added safety, keep extra clothing on hand in case you get wet on the jobsite and need a change.

    3. Review worksites and Upcoming Weather Conditions

    Actively monitoring weather conditions during the winter, having reliable means of communicating with other workers and being able to stop work or evacuate when necessary are safe work practices to protect from injuries, illnesses and fatalities, according to OSHA. It is important to also be aware of the specific public warnings provided by the community: sirens, radio alerts and television. If you are notified of a winter storm watch, advisory or warning, follow instructions from your local authorities. Take those warnings seriously and adjust your work schedule, transportation plans and clothing choices accordingly.

    4. Be Prepared for Freezing and Thawing Effects

    When temperatures vary on an hourly basis during this time of year, it is critical to be aware of the potential effects of freezing and thawing on a construction jobsite. The aforementioned temperature variations can make for very slippery conditions on both roofing and decking. Thermoplastic olefin (TPO) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofs can be especially hazardous during cold weather. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to address this occurrence, because most ice-melt chemicals void a warranty when applied. As well, shoveling can tear and rip these thin membranes. In most cases, the only redress in this situation is to begin work later in the morning and give the snow/ice time to naturally melt. Walking on decking is also especially dangerous in the winter. Unlike with TPO/PVC roofing, we can typically clear the decks by shoveling. However, before applying any chemicals to melt the ice and snow, it is important to check with a supplier to inquire if certain melting chemicals are recommended.

    5. Pay Special Attention to Walking and Working Surfaces 

    Walking around a jobsite can be extremely dangerous under even the best conditions. When freezing rain, snow and frozen ground are added to the mix, safety on the job site becomes increasingly challenging. OSHA’s General Industry Standard 1910.22(a)(3) requires that walking/working surfaces are maintained free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow and ice. We encourage our site teams to develop site logistic plans that include clearly delineated travel paths around the site, early start times for snow removal and salt crews and later start times when bad roads could cause vehicle accidents. We also recommend adding line items to Job Safety Analyses (JSAs), equipment, tool and scaffold inspections to address possible accumulation of ice and snow.

    Given these five ways for construction site teams to keep safety first this winter, this list is not exhaustive, nor can you ever be too cautious or too safe. For more comprehensive information on how to better prepare for and respond to severe winter weather, visit OSHA’s Winter Weather webpage


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    Welcome to OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign
    FALLS ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN CONSTRUCTION. In 2017, there were 366 fatal falls to a lower level out of 971 construction fatalities (BLS data). These deaths are preventable.
    Since 2012, OSHA has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) – Construction Sector on the Fall Prevention Campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards in construction, and how falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented.
    PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
    When working from heights, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely. Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.
    When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site. For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).
    PROVIDE the right equipment
    Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.
    Use the right ladder or scaffold to get the job done safely. For roof work, if workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect it for safe use.
    TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely
    Every worker should be trained on proper set-up and safe use of equipment they use on the job. Employers must train workers in recognizing hazards on the job


    What is OSHA?

    More than 90 million American spend their days on the job. As a nation, they are our most valuable resource. And surprisingly until 1970, no uniform and comprehensive requirements existed for workplace safety and their protection against health hazards.
    How did OSHA Form?
    In 1970, Congress considered annual figures such as these:
    Job related accidents accounted for more than 14,000 worker deaths.
    Nearly 2 1/2 million workers were disabled.
    Ten times as many person-days were lost from job-related disabilities as from strikes.
    Estimated new cases of occupational diseases totaled 300,000
    In terms of lost production and wages, medical, expenses and disability compensation, the burden on the nation’s commerce was staggering. Human cost was beyond calculations. Therefore, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1979 (the Act) was passed by a bipartisan Congress “…to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.”
    What does OSHA Stand For?
    Under the Act, the Occupational Safety and Health administration (OSHA) was created within the Department of Labor.
    Simply stated, OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and is responsible for worker safety and health protection.
    Since its inception in 1970, OSHA has cut the work-fatality rate by more than half, reduced the overall injury and illness rates in industries where OSHA has concentrated its attention, virtually eliminated brown lung disease in the textile industry and reduced trenching and excavation fatalities by 35 percent.
    OSHA is administered through the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL regulates and enforces more than 180 federal laws. These mandates and the regulations that implement them cover many workplace activities for about 10 million employers and 125 million workers.
    Who Does OSHA Cover?
    OSHA determines which standards apply to your workplace and requires you to follow these standards and requirements.
    All employees and their employers under Federal Government authority are covered by OSHA. Coverage is provided either directly by federal OSHA or through state programs. OSHA does not cover the self-employed or immediate members of farm families that do not employ outside workers.
    OSHA offers an extensive Web site at that includes sections devoted to training, state programs, small businesses, construction, as well as interactive eTools to help employers and employees.
    OSHA also offers training programs for employers and employees to get hazard recognition. Some states currently mandate training.

  9. Renaissance for artisanal mortar

    To adapt mortar to new building materials and industrial methods, the content in walls and plaster changed during the 20th century. The change meant that knowledge of historical materials and methods for producing mortar were lost. New research at the University of Gothenburg reveals that historical binding agents and mortar can be produced and used in present-day plaster restorations.
    “We need to reclaim this knowledge to care for and preserve historic buildings constructed with other materials than those used today,” says Jonny Eriksson at the Department of Conservation at the University of Gothenburg, the author of the new thesis.
    Millennial history
    The production of plaster and mortar for buildings goes back thousands of years in Sweden. For a long time, builders made plaster and mortar using traditional techniques, but with industrialisation the process changed.
    “The change involved using new materials and methods to make mortar. At the same time the knowledge of craftspeople on how to make binding agents and mortar for bricklaying and plastering in different situations was lost.”
    The lack of knowledge first became apparent late in the 1960s because the new mortars were damaging historic buildings.
    “For long-term and sustainable maintenance of historic buildings, we need to reclaim knowledge that has been lost,” Jonny Eriksson says. “And this requires collaboration among crafts and professions such as architects, engineers and antiquarians. More craftspeople also need to be trained in research on building conservation.”
    Investigations in medieval church
    For his thesis Eriksson investigated the formation of shrinkage cracks in plaster. He has studied the feasibility of using mortar mixed with the traditional proportions in use until the 19th century. He conducted his investigations will restoring plaster on a medieval church in Tanum municipality in northern Bohuslän.
    “It became apparent that it is practical today to make and use the old-style of mortar. These mortars with a high content of binding agents need to be mixed with newly slaked lime, which is lime that has just been slaked with water,” says Eriksson.
    During the 20th century, builders discouraged this particular production process. They thought it produced defects in the plaster. Instead they recommended preparing slaked lime one to four weeks before use.
    “This was contrary to fundamental practices in the 19th century, when recommendations called for the use of newly slaked lime. The rationale was that this made the mortar more durable.”
    The research results show that the older artisanal mortar with a high content of binding agents can also be made today. It also shows that the mortar can be used for plaster without unacceptable shrinkage cracks or blisters from unslaked lime.
    “Our experiences with using these old-fashioned mortars in various construction projects indicates that the mortar has good durability. But the lime needs to be newly slaked when used and not stored after slaking nor processed to be packed in a bucket or barrel for later use, for example,” says Eriksson.
    Slaked lime is produced by mixing lime and water. This releases energy in the form of heat, and slaked lime forms. Depending on how much water is introduced into the process, slaked lime forms as either dry powder or a wet paste. Slaked lime is used in the building materials industry and for water and flue gas treatment.
    Wet slaked lime is quicklime that has been slaked with an excess of water so that it forms a lime paste. Normally this lime is stored for some time before it is mixed with sand to make mortar. Storage is done to avoid damage.
    Newly slaked lime. Making mortar with newly slaked lime involves slaking the lime before mixing the lime with sand. In other words, the lime is used immediately and is not stored.

    Story Source:
    Materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

  10. Scaffold Safety

    Around 65% of the construction industry work on scaffolds and experience 4,500 injuries and 60 fatalities annually in the United States alone. To prevent these staggering statistics from reocurring better safety inspections, training and controls are needed.
    There are three things to remember to ensure scaffolding safety:
    The scaffold must be built under the supervision of a competent person;
    Workers must be trained by a qualified person before they use the scaffold; and
    The scaffold and its components should be checked by a competent person and properly tagged before the start of the shift to ensure its integrity and safety.
    This article covers who are competent and qualified persons, the basic Do’s and Don’ts of scaffolding safety, usage of scaffold tags, and also includes free scaffold safety checklists to help you implement safety in your workplace using iAuditor – the world’s #1 inspection app.
    Competent and Qualified Person
    According to OSHA, a competent person is “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” This is typically someone who holds a scaffolding high-risk work license.
    While a qualified person is one who “has successfully demonstrated his/her ability to solve or resolve problems related to the subject matter, the work, or the project.” A qualified person has the right background such as education or degree in designing safe scaffolding, for example this could be someone from the scaffold manufacturer or trained scaffold engineer.
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that 72% of scaffold injuries were due to scaffold planking or support giving way, slips, or falling objects. With regular inspections performed by a competent person, adequate scaffold safety training provided by a qualified person, and compliance with local regulatory standards, these dangers can be controlled.
    Basic Scaffolding Safety Do’s and Don’ts

    Here’s a simple guide you can follow to control the hazards when working on a scaffold:
    Inspect the scaffold using a checklist or mobile inspection app before the work shift and ensure it is safe and in proper working order.
    Provide proper training.
    Have a toolbox talk before beginning work.
    Wear appropriate PPE.
    Always check inspection tags.
    Know the weight capacity of the scaffold.
    Have a handhold above the scaffold platform.
    Level the scaffold after each move. Do not extend adjusting leg screws more than 12 inches.
    Use your safety belts and lanyards when working on scaffolding at a height of 10 feet or more above ground level. Attach the lanyard to a secure member of the scaffold.
    Safely use the ladder when climbing the cross braces for access to the scaffold.
    Keep both feet on the decking.
    Stay off scaffold during loading or unloading.
    Ensure planking is overlapping or secured from movement.
    Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when erecting the scaffold, under the direct supervision of a competent person.
    Be mindful of coworkers working above and below you at all times, as well as others working on the scaffold.
    Use the debris chutes or lower things by hoist or by hand.
    Chock the wheels of the rolling scaffold, using the wheel blocks, and also lock the wheels by using your foot to depress the wheel-lock, before using the scaffold.
    Always use netting to catch anything that falls.

    Leave anything on the scaffold at the end of your shift.
    Overload the scaffold.
    Use unstable objects such as barrels, boxes, loose brick or concrete blocks to support scaffolds, increase your work height or planks.
    Work on platforms or scaffolds unless they are fully planked.
    Use a scaffold unless guardrails and all flooring are in place.
    Stand on ties, guardrails, or extensions.
    Use the scaffold if it appears damaged in any way, has been tampered with, or if there are components missing such as planking, guardrails, toeboards, debris nets or protective canopies.
    Walk on scaffold planking covered in ice, snow or mud.
    Avoid using a scaffold during adverse weather such as heavy rain, sleet, ice snow or strong winds.
    Climb on any portion of the scaffold frame not intended for climbing.
    Never climb with any materials or tools in your hand, they should be hoisted up to the scaffold separately.
    Jump from, to, or between scaffolding.
    Lean out or overreach outside the guardrails.
    Rock the scaffold.
    Throw anything “overboard” unless a spotter is available.
    Move a mobile scaffold if anyone is on it.
    Guidelines in Tagging Scaffolds
    Scaffold tags are used to protect the lives of your workers. It identifies if a scaffold is safe or unsafe for use. Follow the guidelines below when tagging scaffolds.
    Inspection and tagging of the scaffold are to be performed by a competent person experienced in the erection of scaffold.
    A unique scaffold identification tag number must be clearly identified on all tags for tracking purposes.
    All scaffolds shall be inspected after the erection per regulatory requirements.
    All scaffold identification tags wlil be of a solid green, yellow, or red color with black lettering.
    Front information displayed and completed for each tag.
    It is common practice to use the following color schemes: Green, Yellow, Red

    Green – tags will be hung on scaffolds that have been inspected and are safe for use. A green “SAFE FOR USE” tag(s), and should be attached to the scaffold at each access point after the initial inspection is complete.

    green tag

    Yellow – “CAUTION” tag(s), will replace all green “Safe Scaffold” tag(s) whenever the scaffold has been modified to meet work requirements, and as a result, could present a hazard to the user. This tag indicates special requirements for safe use. NOTE: Use of the “yellow tag” status is not intended to override the green tag system. All efforts should be made to return the scaffold to a “Green Tag” status as soon as possible.

    yellow tag

    Red – “DANGER – UNSAFE FOR USE” tag(s), will be used during erection or dismantling when the scaffold is left unattended and replace all green “Safe for Use ” tag(s) or yellow “Caution / Hazard “ tag(s) in the event a scaffold has been deemed unfit for use.

    red tag