Category Archives: Site Work

Building blunders: Smokestack implosion gone wrong

A smokestack removal project in Pell City, Alabama, didn’t go according to plan. The stack was still standing after a round of explosives went off at its base. What happened next is hard to believe: the contractor got into his excavator and chipped away on the teetering structure. Can you guess what happened after that? Check out the video.

Tower crane at 10,000 feet? You’re going to need a helicopter

Putting up a tower crane can be challenging, but have you ever tried to build one at 10,000 feet on the side of a mountain? Or one that can withstand 174 mph winds and temperatures down to -13F?

That’s just what Liebherr did over the summer on Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain bordering Austria. The crane is an integral part to building the new Eibsee cable car, which by the end of 2017 will whisk visitors 14,600 feet to the summit from a station near Lake Eibsee, a vertical gain of 6,400 feet.

Tower crane pieces were flown in by Heliswiss using a Russian-made Kamov Ka-32 helicopter. The 150 EC-B 6 Litronic flattop crane is now the highest point in Germany.

Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG operates the aerial tramway that was built in 1963. It has two cabins (one going up and one down) that each hold 40 passengers. The new cabin has space for 120 passengers. The new cable system will have a 2-mile span between support pillars.

Check out the video:

See what local firms can do with concrete



The DJC’s annual special section on concrete is now available. Its focus is on award-winning projects by members of the Washington Aggregates & Concrete Association.

There’s also a great article by Melanie Cochrun of GLY Construction on how her firm used 600 workers to make two record-setting concrete pours earlier this year in Bellevue.

Check it out!


Check out what’s happening in the local construction scene



The DJC has published its annual Construction & Equipment special section. It’s a mix of industry articles, profiles of local award-winning projects and a few interviews with the contractors who make it all happen.

Read all about it at


Vote for wild crane photos

Want to see some cool photos of cranes at work? Check out Craneblogger, which is running its 4th annual crane photo contest. There are three categories:

Coolest Mobile Crane Photos

Coolest Tower Crane Photos

Wildest Crane Photos

You can vote until Oct. 30 and winners will be announced on Nov. 8. The top three from each category will win a Liebherr crane model and the top winner will be profiled in Wire Rope Exchange and Crane Hotline.


Could OSHA change course on its proposed delay of crane operator certification?

By Debbie Dickinson

Crane Institute of America Certification



Just because OSHA has proposed a delay to operator certification, doesn’t mean it will happen. Take notice of recent activity in Washington, D.C.

We recently learned about a different regulation in a similar situation to 1926.1400 Cranes and Derricks in Construction; on Aug. 7, OSHA withdrew a proposed rule to amend the On-Site Consultation Program.

Although not related to cranes and derricks, there are parallels worth noting. Stakeholder concerns that a delay discourages employers from participating was the key reason for moving forward. Many in the crane industry fear the same would happen if crane operator certification is delayed.

OSHA first issued an intent to delay and outlined plans for changing the Consultation Program at the end of July, just a few months after its proposal about crane operator certification. Yet, no such plan has been forthcoming from OSHA for cranes and derricks. The final rule for both are just 8 days apart.

While we remain unsure of what OSHA will do regarding crane operator certification, we do know that:

1. A delay is unnecessary; CIC has offered specific solutions to OSHA that fully solve the concerns raised.

2. According to industry studies, 80% fewer crane-related deaths and 50% fewer accidents occur with certified crane operators.

In addition, Peg Seminario, Director of Safety and Health for the AFL-CIO testified on Aug. 1, 2013 before the Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action Senate Judiciary Committee on “The Human Cost of Regulatory Paralysis.”

According to Seminario: “It is inexcusable and shameful that even where there was broad agreement that the cranes and derricks standard was needed and about what the rule should require, that the regulatory system failed to protect workers…During the eight year rulemaking, 176 workers died in crane accidents that would have been prevented.” Seminario’s testimony is clear: OSHA knows that certification saves lives and that delays will mean more people will die, unnecessarily.

Please contact OSHA and express your expectation that the agency remember its mission “to ensure a safe and healthy workplace,” which does not align with OSHA’s recent attitude that the purpose of regulations is to provide the agency with greater authority for imposing citations and fines on employers.

I hope that out of respect for the lives at stake, for the negotiated rule-making process that was fully supported by industry experts, and for the millions of dollars already invested by the industry, that OSHA does not delay. CIC will continue to remain compliant with OSHA and to drive our business based on the safety and needs of the industry.  Employers can rely on CIC to:

1. Conduct meaningful certifications; CIC certified by type and capacity years before the OSHA regulation because this helps employers make sound decisions and gives operators credentials with merit.

2. Assess the knowledge, skill and abilities of operators for the purpose of reducing accidents.

3. Provide affordable, accessible and accredited certifications for crane operators and riggers.

Debbie Dickinson is executive director at Crane Institute of America Certification, which offers NCCA accredited certifications for mobile crane operators (five classifications) and qualified and advanced riggers and signal persons.

Greenfire flames environmental passion

While Bullitt Center is grabbing headlines as the greenest commercial building in the world, a project in Ballard is taking green building a step further by dedicating about half of its site to urban gardens and open space.

The DJC is profiling the Greenfire Campus project in a special section.

Greenfire’s office building will use about 70 percent less energy than a typical office, and its apartments will use 42 percent less. All that urban agriculture will be fed by two cisterns that store stormwater runoff.

Expect to see more projects like this in the future.

Contractors finally embrace high-tech

The old adage is that contractors are slow to adapt to new technology. That may have held true in the past, but go to any job site now and you’re likely to see iPads and other mobile devices hard at work.

Just how these devices speed productivity is the subject of two articles in the DJC’s Construction & Equipment special section. In one article, Skanska discusses how it’s moving toward a paperless job site. In the second, Howard S. Wright profiles its high-tech “Big Room” that is outfitted with various high-tech devices to streamline collaboration and communication between all of the project team members.

Even with all those high-tech gizmos in the Big Room, HSW still designed in a glass wall for posting sticky notes.

L&I busts Eastern Washington contractors

In its quest to crack down on unlicensed contractors, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries says it made surprise visits to 63 work sites in Chelan and Douglas counties this past weekend.

The result? Eleven contractors were cited for either lacking a state registration or for not being registered for the work they were doing. Each first-time offense carries a $1,000 fine.

“An unregistered contractor typically has no liability insurance, no bond, and pays no taxes or workers’ comp,” said Dean Simpson, manager of L&I’s construction compliance program, in a release. “That means they’re leaving consumers unprotected and are unfairly competing with reputable contractors who do great work and meet the requirements.”

Simpson said his program has stepped up staffing and focus, inspecting more than 10,000 jobsites in the last fiscal year — 56 percent more visits and 39 percent more violations uncovered than in the previous year.

Mark Straub, executive officer for the North Central Home Builders Association, said his group supports L&I’s crackdown.

“We continue to receive numerous calls from consumers who thought they were getting ‘a great deal,’ only to discover that they have little or no recourse when they’re ultimately left in a lurch by these bad actors,” Straub said in the release.

L&I has carried out surprise inspections at 257 work sites, issuing 41 citations, since the agency began sweeps in August. The agency also found a number of other violations relating to uncertified plumbers, underage workers and unpermitted work on manufactured homes.

“We want to show people we’re out there, even on the weekends,” Simpson said. “We want unregistered contractors to know we will find them and for honest contractors to know we’re not ignoring this problem.”

L&I’s contractor compliance program has 21 inspectors around the state that make random site visits and respond to tips. Contractors can register at