Member News: October 2022
LEGO, K’NEX model becomes construction safety tool
Standing inside a model built of LEGO and K’NEX, a tiny LEGO man wearing a helmet and wielding a sword became a highly unusual but equally effective tool for safely completing an extraordinary job.
The model was the creation of John Frank, team leader for The Crew Works staff who were tasked to replace the bird wire that covers the top of the Upland Tropical Rainforest exhibit within the glass pyramid at Baltimore’s National Aquarium. The Crew Works is a subcontractor to Plano-Coudon Construction, which was contracted to replace the 684 panes of glass in the pyramid and complete other upgrades.
“We had looked at different ways of replacing the bird wire,” said Andrew Hooker, Project Executive. “Building scaffolding in there would have been extremely costly and would have entailed cutting down most of the trees, so that wasn’t an option.”
Instead, Plano-Coudon contracted The Crew Works, a company that more commonly does rigging for events in entertainment venues, to install the new bird wire.
“Their crew would climb the trusses inside the pyramid, tie off with safety lines and perform the work from there,” Hooker said.
However, the unique and complex structure combined with the challenge of installing wire mesh beneath a sloped, glass ceiling would require some uncommon safety and operational planning.
“Trying to describe the process verbally to the team was going to be very difficult. Even taking them inside the rainforest and pointing to things was going to be difficult because of all the trees and other obstructions,” Frank said.
So Frank built a scale model of the pyramid’s skylight structure. Outfitted with rigging and safety cables, a spool of wire mesh, a wench system and LEGO men to represent each crew member, the model served both as an effective way to demonstrate to crew members how the installation would happen and for the crew to refine that plan in the first days of the installation.
“It was a wild process to watch,” Hooker said. “Their crew members were hanging from the trusses doing the installation. They also kept the model just outside the rainforest exhibit and they would work out possible changes in their operations on that model.”
Construction Inclusion Week aims to build a more diverse industry
With a plethora of resources about workplace culture, supplier diversity, community engagement and commitments to equity, the second annual Construction Inclusion Week October 17-21 is aiming to involve more construction leaders and workers in efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across the industry.
Modeled after Construction Safety Week, Construction Inclusion Week (CIW) provides materials for toolbox talks focused on a different theme each day. It heightens awareness online and on job sites, and gives participants access to numerous other resources, such as podcasts, movies and suggested activities.
“We saw how Construction Safety Week changed how the industry thought about safety. It changed our safety performance and our metrics. Why can’t we do that with diversity, inclusion and equity in the same industry?” said Tiara Cypress, a member of DPR Construction’s global social responsibility team. DPR is co-chair of the 2022 Construction Inclusion Week.
Organizers have generated daily curriculum for companies with all different levels of understanding of DEI. They added tools to make the material easy to use, such as a facilitator’s guide and an assessment tool to help companies determine which materials would work best for them.
Organizers tailored this year’s daily themes to focus on positive actions that companies and individuals can take. They also proposed a model to make CIW activities attractive and accessible to more participants. Organizers suggest that companies host a breakfast, give out CIW swag and conduct a short (less than 30 minutes) toolbox talk. In addition, DPR and some other general contractors are inviting trade partners and clients to those events.
“Maybe you’re a 10-person electrical company. You don’t know what to do or where to start and you don’t feel comfortable doing this alone,” Cypress said. “Well, we have opportunities for you to tap into other companies’ activities. We will invite you to breakfast and buy you swag. You just have to show up with an open mind and a courageous heart.”
Organizers hope that the conversations that begin at CIW events will continue long after the week ends.
“These are brave conversations that people are going to have. Be prepared for it. Be excited about it,” Cypress said. “Know that these conversations can lead to good things. Inclusive workplaces are more productive and they are a great foundation for the success of a company.”
BC&E welcomes new member
Headquartered in Bel Air, Spartan Surfaces is a specialty flooring supplier serving 70 percent of the United States. Dedicated to delivering great products that meet clients’ aesthetics, budgets and performance needs, Spartan is active in the healthcare, education, corporate, retail, multi-family, hospitality, senior living and sport and fitness markets. www.spartansurfaces.com