safety

Construction Safety Week 2021 Emphasizes Focusing on Everyday Jobsite Safety Choices

By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

More than 40 national and global construction firms comprising the Construction Industry Safety Initiative and the Incident and Injury-Free CEO Forum invite the industry to recognize Construction Safety Week 2021 from May 3-7.

With the AGC of America as a signature event sponsor, the eighth-annual safety week bears the theme, “Be Present. Be Focused. Be Safe.”

Construction Safety Week 2021 Chairman Mike McKelvy, President and CEO of Gilbane Building Company, says the board chose this year’s theme based upon what the industry and society at large experienced during 2020.

“From last March onward, construction workers across the country have had to go to jobsites every day and continue building projects – roads, bridges, hospitals and schools,” said McKelvy. “They’ve been front line when the rest of society has taken a step back. Our them for this year’s safety week is holistic. It’s about each of us getting our mind straight about what our role is and focusing intently during an uncertain time when there are more distractions than ever, and focusing on the task so we can make the best, safest choices. The choices we make are better and safer when our focus is there,” he added.

Construction industry partners are invited to visit https://www.constructionsafetyweek.com/ and download myriad resources such as jobsite banners, a safety week planning playbook, communications toolkits with social media templates and media relations tips and at-home family activities.

From now until 4pm CST on May 6, individuals working in construction are invited to upload their photo and short story about what safety means to them. A total of 10 safety week winners will be chosen for awards of $1,000 each.

“This is the one week of the year that we can all use to remind ourselves about staying safe, and to recharge our batteries to focus on safety in the year ahead,” McKelvy said.

Concrete Association, Contractor Members Unite to Switch from Hard Hats to Helmets

By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

The nation’s nonprofit association for cast-in-place concrete contractors is asking its members to set goals to accomplish a safety-specific transition from hard hats to helmets to prevent traumatic brain injuries and deaths on the jobsite.

Bev Garnant, executive director of the American Society of Concrete Contractors, says momentum is gaining across the U.S. to replace traditional hard hats with helmets equipped with chin straps and extruded foam to protect construction workers more effectively from falls. Helmets for construction workers is one of the ASCC’s core initiatives.

“The ASCC has established an overall goal to realize the transition of 75 percent of our member companies’ jobsite workers from hard hats to helmets by 2023,” Garnant said. “This is an ambitious goal, but we feel it’s doable. Several major general contractors are already making the switch.”

St. Louis-based Concrete Strategies – a Clayco subsidiary – is preparing to embark on a pilot effort at one jobsite, outfitting the field crew with helmets. Concrete Strategies Safety Director Joe Rock says construction helmets are considerably more expensive than hard hats, but with safety paramount, it’s where the industry needs to head.

“In any type of fall event, the traditional hard hat comes off a worker’s head,” Rock said. “The most progressive, forward-thinking construction industry partners are headed in the direction of helmets over hard hats. Our company is always going to be pushing the envelope in seeking out, testing and trying any resources and practices that ensure our workers return home safely to their families every day.”

Perception in the field that a helmet is less comfortable and heat resistant than a hard hat, Rock adds, is one that must be overcome to gain buy-in on the hats-to-helmets transition from those in the field. Concrete Strategies performed research on helmets and ordered a half dozen for field workers to try. From that input, two finalist helmet models were ordered. The project for which field crew are sporting the new head gear begins this spring. Rock and Garnant say the construction helmets closely resemble a bicycle helmet.

“OSHA regulations still specify hard hats as approved head gear,” Garnant said, “but we truly think that over the next two to three years that will change to helmets. Hard hats are built to protect workers when protect materials striking their heads, but hard hats are not equipped to protect workers who fall. Helmets reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injuries and deaths. When we think of productivity on a jobsite, we may not necessarily think of safety. But safety has a huge impact on productivity.”