Women in Construction Week – March 3 – 9, 2019

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This week we celebrate the “Women in Construction”!

Women in construction make a powerful impact, in spite of making up a small percentage of the construction work force. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, women held 9.1% of the positions in the construction industry by the end of 2016. Of this percentage only 2% were employed in the physical labor occupations such as laborers, equipment operators, or other skilled trades.

Regardless of the position that the women held case studies have indicated the following positive impacts that women have had on the construction industry:

  • Enhanced team performance
  • New or alternative perspectives on how to best approach challenges in the workplace
  • Increased profitability for companies with diverse teams at all levels.
  • And my personal favorite… “the overall intelligence of teams was greater when females were incorporated as team members.”

In short, women can both compensate for labor shortages and contribute to problem solving and efficiency on the project.

For me, however, the impact is far greater than what is felt immediately. Women in Construction set the example for our future generations of women.

Our daughters need role models than can show them they are just as capable as our sons in industries that are heavily influenced in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math…and physical labor.

There is NO evidence that girls are less capable than boys in the STEM fields, but sadly they FEEL less capable than boys. And often this feeling is established very early in life in ways that many of us may not even realize. Yes, girls tend to automatically want to watch the princess movies while boys want to watch the transformers. But by constantly reminding your daughters that there are no “boy” activities or “boy” skills or “boy” colors…. you will see her blossom into a strong smart and lively woman…. Trust me, as a mother of a young daughter I am constantly explaining that yes, women CAN do construction, CAN be good at science and math, CAN wear jeans rather than dresses, CAN like blue rather than pink, CAN like dinosaurs. The list is endless of the things that she has thought that girls can’t do…and it is with rare exception I am annihilating that list.

So now I have a daughter that loves science and math and dinosaurs and really really really wants them to wear pink dresses and let a princess ride on them. I’ll take it. Because now I am confident that whether she chooses a STEM field or not, at least she FEELS that she can if she wants to. And THAT is the important part.

How can I celebrate Women in Construction?

Take a look around you and celebrate the women you work with. Share their stories with your daughters. Encourage your daughters to follow their dreams. Teach them to cut the grass, or plant a flower, or build their toy box, … Get your daughters involved!

National Safety Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction

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Have you started planning?

The official dates have been set! The sixth annual National Safety Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction will occur May 6-10, 2019.

Click here for more information.

New to the concept?

For those that have never participated in the National Safety Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction it can seem a bit daunting. But, when you click the link above you will find a whole host of resources to use. Whether you are a large contractor that has employees exposed to many types of fall hazards, or a small contractor that simply works from ladders, this is a great opportunity to take the time to gather your forces and focus their attention on the specific fall hazards they face during the normal course of their work day.

Take 5

Or 15… Your Stand-down doesn’t have to take hours. It really is meant to be a concentrated focus on fall hazards in the construction work place that are specific to your workers. Get them involved.

  • What are the hazards you see?
  • How can we better address those hazards?
  • Are the tools provided appropriate?
    • Maybe you provide a ladder to work from but would a one-man lift be safer? quicker?
    • If you work at heights, have you addressed falling objects? Do you need to look into purchasing tool lanyards.

These small questions can really help you narrow your focus and address the real concerns that your workers face every day.

Employee Recognition

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Have you ever had that one employee that you knew you could count on to always step up and give their all, no matter what the request was? I am not talking about the employees that do their job every day, or even the ones that do their job GREAT every day. I am specifically talking about the employee that goes beyond that. The employee that inspires others to do more! To be better! To take action!

When you have that employee, it is important to recognize their efforts.

And I am proud to say that we have one of those employees!

Mr. Shane Sanders

Shane, it is a pleasure to work with you. I can’t count the number of times that I have asked your opinion about a safety topic from the field perspective. And each time you have delivered.

Recently, Jordan Foster Construction asked our employees to share their #JFC2019Goals. And once again, you stepped up and delivered!

But here’s the thing, the real thing… These aren’t just your goals. These are the things that you actually do every day.

Thank you for setting the example. Thank you for watching out for your crew. Thank you for showing that our Core Values are more than just words on a poster.

Thank you!
From all of us at JFC.

Crane Standards are Final

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As of November 10, 2018, ALL Crane Operators MUST be certified.  This certification is usually done through the following organizations:

  • NCCCO
  • NCCER
  • CIC

Additionally, per the final rule of the regulation, the Crane Operators must also be “evaluated by their employer” to ensure they are qualified to operate the crane to which they have been assigned.  The original deadline for this evaluation process was February 7, 2019.  However, according to the temporary enforcement policy for evaluation and documentation of crane operators this deadline has been extended to April 15, 2019 AS LONG AS the employer has made a good faith effort to comply.

This new deadline is for the EVALUATION process ONLY.  It is not for the Required Certification.

Read here for more information regarding the Crane Operator Certification.

One additional point that needs to be clarified is for the knuckle-boom cranes that are typically used for delivery of materials (such as drywall).  There are times that these fall under the crane standard… specifically, when they are holding materials in the air while the material is either being installed, unloaded, unbundled, or un-palletized.  If it is simply placing the full pallet or bundle of material on a balcony or upper floor or roof, etc. then it is not covered by the crane standards.  For the Letter of Interpretation regarding this specific type of equipment see here.

Safety Poem

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Occasionally this “age-old” poem appears in my various news feeds, and every single time it does it hits me in the “feels”.

The poem was written by Don Merrell. I have heard a number of stories about the origins of the poem, but since I don’t know the actual version I will leave that for you to find. That said, at the end of the day, whether based on personal experience or on what he gathered from conversations with other people that experienced the situation personally, the poem is moving and tragic.

Be your “brothers keeper”.

There are times that we all take chances that we shouldn’t. Sometimes those decisions are made consciously because we believe that no harm can come to us. Sometimes those decisions are made subconsciously because our minds are not on the task at hand. And sometimes we just haven’t been trained properly how to safely perform the task.

Step up to the task and help the men and women you work with be better. Do not let title, rank or tenure make you feel like you can’t help someone improve.

Speak up!

Speak up in a way that shows you truly care, for your coworker… for your friend and for their family.

This is not the moment to be loud, obnoxious, condescending, rude, or threatening. When is the last time you received the lesson delivered that way?

Your purpose is not to get someone in trouble. Your purpose is to better their performance so they can continue to provide for their family, or even just to simply live their life.

Proper Lighting in Construction

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Illumination is one of the more obscure and overlooked regulations. This isn’t surprising necessarily, since it isn’t one that is cited often, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important.

What is REQUIRED?

For the Construction Industry there are generally 3 specific levels of illumination that you need to remember:

  • 3 Foot-Candles – This applies to most of your “outside” areas. For this regulation, “outside” means anything that is NOT covered. So standing on the first floor of a multi-level structure that isn’t enclosed is still considered “inside”. But if you can look up and see the sky, you are “outside”.
  • 5 Foot-Candles – This applies to most of your “inside” areas. If you can’t see the sky when you look directly up from where you are located then you are “inside”.
  • 10 Foot-Candles – Batch plants, Carpenter Shops, Active store rooms, Toilets, etc….

The key to all of this is that these levels apply to ALL areas where workers are located. So, if they have to walk from the parking lot to their work station, the path has to be illuminated. If they are going to leave the work station and walk to the toilets, that path has to be illuminated. If they are going to be rummaging around looking for tools in a yard or trailer… you guessed it, those locations have to be illuminated.

Translate that please…

If you don’t have a visual in your head on just how bright that is, don’t worry, most people don’t. There are a few tools on the market that can help you.

If you are looking for a decent all around safety meter then you can get one from Amazon:

Check out this one for a “Four in One Environmental Meter” or this one for a “Five in One Environmental Meter“. Both of these instruments will allow you to measure the Temperature, Air Velocity, Relative Humidity and Light. The 5-in-1 adds in a Sound Meter as well.

Note: These just happen to be the ones that I have specifically used so they are the ones I know. I am not affiliated with them in any way other than as a customer. I am sure there are other great devices in the field, so get with your specific vendors and get their recommendations.

If you aren’t interested in carrying around another device or spending $200 to $250 dollars there are some apps that are available through the App Store (Apple). I am going to have to assume that there are similar apps available through Google Play but since I don’t have an android I will have to depend on those of you that do to fill in the gaps.

When it comes to straight up “light meters” keep in mind that most of these are meant for photographers and can get pretty fancy in the data they give you. But you can get one for free that gives you are really good idea of the amount of light in an area without all the other fuss.

The one that I recommend strictly for a quick “Light meter” is:

  • Lux Light Meter Pro – by Elena Polyanskaya
    • There is a paid option of this app (about $4) but the free one has been sufficient for my needs.

Wondering what a “foot-candle” is? This illustration shows it better than I can describe it.

So, 5 foot-candles would be equivalent amount of light that 5 standard candles would project on a 1’x1′ square surface from 1′ away.

The short answer is… it is brighter than you think!

Use the tool but trust your gut! If you EVER enter a space and think to yourself “its a little dim in here” it is nowhere close to 5 foot-candles. If you enter a space and think there is plenty of light because you can clearly see… it might be enough, it might not be enough. Without testing it you won’t actually know.

What is the point of all of this?

If no one tests this except for the few random crazy folks, and OSHA never cites anyone for it, why do we care? The answer is simple.

The NUMBER 1 leading cause of Injury and Death in the Construction Industry is Falls, which includes Slips and Trips and Falls on the Same Level.

If a person cannot clearly see where they are walking they are at risk of injury. Preventing a workers injury far out weighs the avoidance of a citation.

Arctic Freeze – Stay Safe!

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Given the Arctic Freeze that America is in the middle of this week, it seems a great time to share some important information regarding Cold Weather Safety and what to do if you find yourself stuck in a Stranded Vehicle

Luckily, for those of us located in Texas for most of the year we don’t have to deal with the extremes of cold weather, but it is still important to make sure we dress appropriately for the weather and that our vehicles are properly stocked for any emergency.

Proper Attire

In the winter, layers are your friend. Especially in Texas where it is not only possible, but likely, to see a temperature swing of 40 degrees from morning to late afternoon. Without layers there is no way to adjust to the temperatures properly.

There are several synthetic options these days, but if you are looking for great natural options then consider wool and cotton. Wool, worn next to your skin, will naturally wick away the sweat so that you remain warm and not chilled. Cotton has some of the same abilities, but it doesn’t work as effectively.

My recommendation is to layer the cotton on top of the wool, followed by a jacket. This will keep you warm in the morning, and allow you to shed your layers through the day as it heats up.

Stocking your car

During the winter make sure your car is stocked with some extra warm clothing, gloves and blankets. While it may not be because of a crazy winter storm, there is always a possibility of being stuck in a stranded vehicle. If that happens you want to make sure you have the ability to stay warm until help arrives.

And if your travels are taking you far afield, make sure it is also stocked with some non-perishable foods and liquids.