Category Archives: Field Work

Workforce Training Pays Big Dividends

With more than 17 percent of the craft workers retiring in the next five years it is more important than ever to train tomorrow’s construction workers. The construction industry is falling short of its workforce demand by almost 1.6 million positions by 2022, based on the latest estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

In December 2004, economic think tank The Brookings Institute released a study titled Toward a New Metropolis: The Opportunity to Rebuild America. The study noted that “Residential and commercial development in the next 25 years will eclipse anything seen in previous generations,” and that “Nearly half of what will be the built environment in 2030 doesn’t exist yet.”

Still the lack of a skilled workforce continues to be a challenge for contractors and owners alike. The 2016 Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) chairman and president of Willmar Electric Service, David Chapin, said that, “ABC members report that they could do more work if they had the skilled workers to do the jobs.”

The problem is multifaceted. Despite much evidence to contradict the outcome, our education system still prepares the vast majority of students for a college education while little is being done to either promote or prepare young people for careers in the construction trades. Simultaneously, for years the industry thought the only valid way to learn was working from the bottom up with training happening only on the job.

However, construction, like most other careers, has become increasingly technical and specialized and training is essential to ensure that we have a highly-skilled workforce for the future.

For employers, investing just one percent in training can deliver double-digit returns.

A recent study by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) found that investing just 1 percent of a project’s labor budget in training could have double-digit returns. The study showed that 1 percent yielded: 11% improved productivity; 14% decrease in turnover; 15% decrease in absenteeism; 26% decrease in injuries; and 23% decrease in rework. These are savings that far exceed the investment in training.

For those interested in joining the trades.

The average 2015 college graduate owes about $35,000 in student loan debt—the highest level in history, according to government data. Despite lower national unemployment figures, many of these four-year graduates have little guarantee of job placement, making for an unstable future.

The average construction industry graduate who completes an associate’s degree or a state-funded, certified two- three- or four-year apprenticeship program, (the average electrician, welder or plumber) stands to earn more than $50,000 a year right out of the gate. He or she has little to no student loan debt, and already holds a high-paying job—plus career skills that are in top demand as the baby boomer generation retires.

In Washington we have a myriad of training programs that support the industry. ABC offers a wide variety of training classes including safety, project management and in conjunction with Toastmasters, public speaking and presentation. For training in the trades, ABC’s partner, the Construction Industry Training Council of Washington (CITC), offers state-approved apprenticeship and craft training in the carpentry, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, heavy equipment operator, painting, plumbing, laborers, residential electrical, low energy and sheet metal trades. For more information go to: www.citcwa.com

Nationally there are a number of resources as well:

The first National Craft Championships was held in 1987 with only a handful of participants competing in four craft competitions. Some 25 years later, more than 2,000 men and women have competed in what has grown to become one of the construction industry’s most recognized and revered craft skills events, thanks to the dedication and hard work of our member firms and ABC chapters. The ABC Workforce Conference site is www.nationalcraftchampionships.org

For those considering construction careers: ABC’s Careers in Construction – http://careers.abc.org

 

 

 

 

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:


Amazon builds film sets around DJC Building

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Crews from Amazon.com descended on the Journal Building this week to film an episode of the new TV series “The Man in the High Castle.”

Before the film crews set up, construction workers were busy transforming the streets around the building and the Journal’s press bay to resemble an early 1960s New York scene — with a twist.

That twist? Germany, Japan and Italy won World War II, with the East Coast under Nazi control and the West Coast occupied by the Japanese. That’s in following with Philip K. Dick’s novel, which the series is based on.

Some of the props made by the workers include a mock subway staircase, street signs bearing the swastika and a sign for Lariat Shipping & Moving in Post Alley. The DJC even printed up some faux newspapers, including the “Reich Chronicle.”

For the subway stairs, workers aged the wood with a special coating and made the plexi-glass canopy look old by scuffing the surface and placing some debris that looked like dried vegetation on the edges.

Word has it that Amazon’s crews have also been filming in Georgetown, Capitol Hill and the International District.

Check out these photos from the DJC’s own Jeff Miller.

 

 

 

Watch Atkinson make quick work of SR99 bridge over Broad Street

The state Department of Transportation made a time-lapse video of last weekend’s work on SR99 that required closing the highway for several days.
Crews from Atkinson Construction and subcontractor Dickson Co. took just 48 hours to replace the section of SR 99 that crosses above Broad Street. They demolished the old roadway and then added fill to the now-closed section of Broad to level it up with the rest of the highway.
The highway reopened Wednesday.
Nice work!

Video courtesy of WSDOT

Got some mad crane skills? Show them off at local competition

CraneComp

The organization called Crane Institute Certification is holding a regional crane skills competition in Woodland (southwest Washington) that will send two finalists on expense-paid trips to a championship event in late 2015 at a “high profile” venue.
The regional competition will be hosted on Sept. 5 by Industrial Training International at its training headquarters. It’s the second year ITI has hosted the regionals and the fourth year of the competition.
For this year’s competition, there will be more emphasis on skill and less on speed, and organizers have added new twists such as a rigging challenge.
ITI will also have an open house, vendor showcases and several hands-on workshops, including three staged accident scenes.
Last year, operators from Washington, Oregon and Idaho competed at the Northwest event. Organizers want to get additional operators from western Canada and northern California.
Operators can sign up at www.cicert.com/news/compete. The registration fee is $50.

L&I doing the home show circuit

The Department of Labor & Industries will have a booth at 18 home shows this winter/spring throughout the state to inform homeowners about hiring the right construction contractors.

L&I says home show attendees in search of a contractor should arrive with a plan that includes:

• Know what you want. Whether planning to update your bathroom or build a fence, write a list of the features you must have versus the features you’d like to have. Bring magazine pictures of desired features.
• Talk to a variety of vendors and contractors. Bring a list of questions about your project and ask contractors about their experience.
• Confirm prospective contractors are registered with the state at www.ProtectMyHome.net. Registered contractors must have a business license and a current certificate of liability insurance and a bond on file with L&I, providing some recourse if the project goes bad. Just because contractors have a booth doesn’t mean they’re registered.

The first event, the Tacoma Home & Garden Show, is running until Sunday inside the Tacoma Dome. Admission is $12.

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.

https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=24504

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.”

http://www.aflcio.org/Legislation-and-Politics/Testimonies/Seminario-on-Justice-Delayed-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.