This week at job sites all across the Southeast we hosted Safety Stand-downs to reiterate the importance of Safety at White-Spunner Construction. At these meetings, our Safety Director Ross Moyer spoke to the groups about the dangers of our industry and how statistically construction as a whole is the cause of the most fatalities out of any industry.
In his own words, “It’s up to each of us to watch out for ourselves and the others we work with. Construction has always been one of the most dangerous occupations, but it’s time that changes, nearly 1,000 lives a year is too much. With the things we know today and the equipment and technology that is available, there is no reason these many accidents should be happening.”
Moyer challenged each of the groups he met with to hold themselves personally responsible to work safely by introducing White-Spunner Construction’s, “Commitment to Safety Pledge”. The men and women on our projects and in the office agreed it’s time for a change and took the first step by signing our Committed to Safety Banner. Over 150 workers vowed to always work in a safe manner and to not settle with a goal of ZERO accidents, our goal is ZERO unsafe conditions.
“We’ve been blessed to work with such an outstanding group of individuals and look forward to many more years of it,” Ross stated, “If these Safety Stand-downs spoke to one person who in-turn decides to change their unsafe behaviors and can avoid a workplace injury it makes it all worth it.”
Special thanks to Ross and all who continue to make our workplace (both in the office and out on the field) a safe one.
Nowadays having regulated safety standards on the Jobsite is a no-brainer. With all the heavy equipment that’s used and the health hazards, one can face while on the job it’s important the correct standards are put in place to keep everyone out there safe. However, this wasn’t always the case. Travel back with us and explore how the safety regulations that keep our workers' safe while on the job site came to be.
While the safety regulations we know today weren’t made mandatory for some time, the ball was set in motion during the late 1800s after the Civil War. Workers began setting aside money and purchasing insurance in case of an accident happening on the job. While some employers would offer this insurance or provide alternative jobs for their injured employee's workers would often leave high-risk jobs in favor of safer ones. Many employers had to raise wages for such jobs to attract enough workers and this small shift is what started to influence changes in industry policies. Regulatory commissions were formed with the intention of mandating a safer work environment, but they had very little power and were rarely able to exert much influence during this time.
About 300 workers out of every 100,000 were killed on the job annually. That’s almost a death for every single day of the year! At this point in history, workers would need to sue their employers to get compensation for any injuries that happened on the job site. As you can probably guess, workers, winning these cases were often few and far in-between with the compensation pay being no more than half a year’s pay if they were lucky. This changed in the 1910s when New York passed a Worker’s Compensation Law in 1910. This new law required that employers compensate all injuries at a fixed rate. This benefitted both workers and employers. Workers could now receive better and more reliable benefits, while the employers gained more satisfied employees and more predictable cost. By 1921, all except six states had adopted this compensation law into their systems. Other changes to benefit workers were also passed during this time. In 1912, The National Safety Council and The U.S. Department of Labor were founded. The National Safety Council focused on promoting the health and safety of workers, while The U.S. Department of Labor focused on occupational safety as one of its main branches. In 1916, the Federal Compensation Act was established to benefit workers who sustain injuries or contract illnesses when on the job. This act is what lead to the creation of the Office of Worker’s Compensation Program.
Everything changed when the Golden Gate Bridge was being built. While safety measures were in place in jobs before, the Golden Gate Bridge is special because it was the first major construction project to make safety mandatory. Nets—the ones used for acrobatic stunts—were bought from the circus to better ensure that if a worker fell they would be caught, and anyone caught doing high-risk stunts and without their safety gear were immediately dismissed. On jobs prior, there were actual estimates done by the company to account for worker death per millions spent during a project. Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss was determined to make this statistic a thing of the past.
Here’s a list of the mandatory Safety Features:
At the end of more than four years of construction, there were "only” 11 workplace fatalities during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. For the record, the industry standard had been incredibly higher before this.
During this time The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed.
An Act to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health; and for other purposes.
This act leads to the creation of the Nation Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which conducts research and makes safety recommendations. It was a year later that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to "assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance." It is thanks to OSHA that workplace safety inspections have been shown to reduce injury rates and injury costs without negative effects on employment, sale, credit ratings, or company survival.
It was in 1996 that the National Occupational Research Agenda was founded and from then they’ve worked to conduct research that helps in reducing the number of injuries and illnesses at work. Today, only one in seven construction workers are injured while on the job. A big change from how it used to be, and it only gets better as the years go by.
On January 24th, 2018 our Safety Manager, Ross Moyer, led a ToolBox Talk about the safety hazards regarding Respirable Crystalline Silica at our Hampton Inn & Suites project in Saraland, AL. He discussed the importance of protecting workers from inhaling Respirable Crystalline Silica Dust and the health hazards associated with it.
Respirable Crystalline Silica (RSC) dust is created by cutting, grinding, drilling or any other disturbance of various materials common on construction sites, these include sand, concrete, masonry, rock, granite, and landscaping materials. While Silica dust might seem like a small issue compared to other hazards in the construction industry, the consequences of inhaling respirable crystalline silica dust are real.
Top: Simple Silicosis Bottom: Complicated Silicosis
Exposure to RCS can cause Silicosis in the exposed workers, scaring the lining of the air sacs with lungs limiting their ability to breathe. Other health hazards associated with exposure to RCS include lung damage, tuberculosis, lung cancer, and kidney disease. On average silicosis claims 600 lives each year and signs of this disease range from shortness of breath, persistent cough, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss, chest pain, or serious respiratory failure. It’s important to note that in a few rare cases silicosis has been shown to form in the lungs in as little as a few weeks of exposure to extremely high levels of dust content, more commonly, silicosis occurs after years of breathing in the smallest amount of silica dust. By the time it gets hard to breathe, it’s too late, Silicosis has set in and at this time there is no cure.
Ensuring safety precautions are in place for these exposed workers is crucial. Thankfully there are many steps that can be taken to avoid exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica and keep their lungs healthy. One of the most popular methods is the addition of water at the source of operation that would have created hazardous dust. By using tools with water attachments—or even methods such as water hoses or wet sweeping—to control the dust at the source can be kept to manageable levels during these activities.
Another method is the use of HEPA filtered vacuums to capture the silica dust at the point of operation. Using specialized tool attachments and HEPA vacuum significantly reduces the amount of silica dust becoming airborne. At times the use of protective wear is still a must to ensure worker protection in areas with high exposure to silica dust. But the use of respirators, much like many forms of Personal Protective Equipment, should be the last resort when protecting workers’ from the dangerous dust. The use of Engineering or Administrative Controls like those listed above should always be the first option because it eliminates the hazard to the worker. When relying only on PPE, the hazard is still present to the worker and the PPE must be used 100% correctly to be effective.
The final means of protection is more of an upkeep of good personal hygiene. Washing your hands and any other exposed areas after working while taking great care to clean clothing exposed to the silica dust is a great way of lowering one’s risk of developing silicosis. This as well as taking care to avoid eating, drinking, and smoking in a dusty work area. Following these tips can ensure a safer workplace and a lower risk of a silicosis case.
White-Spunner Construction was honored to receive the 2017 BuildSouth Award for Renovation – Under $5 Million – Design-Build from the Association of General Contractors (AGC) Alabama Chapter on January 12th, 2017, at the association's 19th Annual Banquet at The Club in Birmingham.
The BuildSouth competition is open to all Alabama AGC general and specialty contractor members who project—if chosen—will be awarded one or more of the following categories: building construction, design/build, highway construction, international, construction management, heavy industrial construction and municipal utilities construction.
White-Spunner Construction's winning project was the renovation of Premier Medical—a 14,000 square foot project—located in Daphne, AL. White-Spunner Construction found that the building's shell was in sound condition and was constructed to allow a complete interior demolition and renovation to meet the needs of the proposed project. Our company negotiated a Design-Build Contract and immediately brought in the design team to start the project. The collaborative effort with the client and design team made short work of the design and allowed construction to move forward at a rapid pace. The renovation project finished weeks ahead of schedule, giving additional time to our client to ensure the building was fit to serve new patients.
It’s that time of the year again! Time to put up the lights and decorate the tree. Time to light the candles and make all kinds of delicious goodies. With this in mind it’s more important than ever to remember to keep safety in mind as we’re celebrating the holiday season. Because while a home with lights is a beautiful sight, no one wants to be sent to the hospital for an avoidable injury. Here are some safety tips to ensure that this holiday stays a safe one!
Once again, White-Spunner Construction has sponsored the Making Spirits Bright program! A charitable holiday drive in which local businesses help fulfill the needs of several nonprofit organizations in the Mobile and Baldwin County area. A cause that we are proud to be a part of! This year, as many years before, White-Spunner Construction chose to sponsor Prodisee Pantry in Spanish Fort. Prodisee Pantry is a faith-based community ministry that provides emergency food and disaster relief to families in need. The organization has provided assistance to more than 110,000 families facing hardship stemming from job loss, medical expenses, natural disasters and other crises. To support Prodisee Pantry in giving to those in need, White-Spunner Construction has donated $1,000 to their cause. With this amount Prodisee Pantry can take and multiple the food the organization can provide by nearly tenfold!
Check out the video below to see how White-Spunner Construction is "Making Spirits Bright" for Prodisee Pantry this holiday season! Be sure to also check out Prodisee Pantry’s website Prodiseepantry.com to find out how you can help make spirits merry and bright this holiday season!
Today is Veterans Day, and White-Spunner Construction would like to thank all the men and women who have served our country in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Veterans Day was originally observed as Armistice Day, which was first proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson on November 11, 1919 to honor those who died in World War I. In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I, and he led the first National Veterans Day celebration in 1947 in Alabama. A bill establishing Armistice Day as a federal holiday was passed through Congress and signed into law in 1954. Later that year, Congress amended the act, changing the name of the holiday to Veterans Day as it has been known ever since.
White-Spunner Construction would like to recognize the following employees who have served our country:
Russell Green: E-4, Sergeant; served in U.S. Air Force (1972-1976, then two years in the Reserves)
Joey Rice: E-4, Corporal; served in U.S. Marine Corps (1978-1982 active, 1982-1984 inactive)
Brandon Miller: E-4, Petty Officer, 3rd Class; served in U.S. Coast Guard (4 years active, 4 years inactive Reserve)
Jess Bowling: E-6; served in U.S. Navy (1960-1970)
Josh Dindo: E-5; served in U.S. Marine Corps (2001-2009)
Travis Deatherage: E-5, Petty Officer, 2nd Class; served in U.S. Navy (1998-2003)
Jarrod York: E-5; served in U.S. Air Force (8 years active duty, currently serving 209th Special Operations Civil Engineering Squadron (SOCES) Gulfport, MS, Air National Guard)
Thank you for your service and for protecting our freedoms!
Our prayers and hearts go out to those in both Texas and Florida who are affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma as they work to recover from this tragic event. Located along the Gulf Coast, White-Spunner Construction is all too familiar with the devastating aftermath this kind of storms can cause. However, what happened due to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma has left many of our staff dumbfounded at the amount of destruction—as it’s often forgotten just how powerful and ruthless nature can be until we’re face-to-face with the aftermath that follows. To the families who have experienced the loss of your home, possessions, loved ones, or all we send out a special prayer in this time of need and have rallied together to give a helping hand.
In addition to the individual efforts of our employees, White-Spunner Construction has made a $10,000 donation to the American Red Cross to assist with hurricane relief efforts for both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Both of these hit us on a personal level, as White-Spunner Construction has actively contributed and done construction in Houston, TX, multiple times as well as various places around Florida with local businesses in the area.
If you would like to make a donation to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund, please CLICK HERE. However, if you’re a fan of snail mail this link also contains the address that you can send a check donation to. If either of these don’t appeal to you, there’s always to opinion to donate by dialing their phone—1-800-HELP NOW—or you can visit your local Red Cross Headquarters today. Together we can help ease the worry of those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, and help give those affected the supplies they need to get through this troubling time.
White-Spunner Construction is pleased to welcome Cynthia “Cindy” Stinson as the newest addition to our team as our Executive Administrator! Though originally from Mobile, AL, Cindy has been living in Georgia for the past 15 years with her husband Dean—who originally hails from the area. Both have recently moved here and together they have two beautiful daughters.
The youngest is Ryann, a freshman at Georgia College. The oldest is Hunter, a senior at the University of Alabama. Roll Tide! Cindy will be joining our family as John White-Spunner’s Assistant, and helping to keep all of us here at White-Spunner in the know and in line with John’s schedule.
Welcome to the team Cindy!
It is no secret that everyone is pumped for the solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017. But, why is this event so special? Because unlike a partial, a annular, or a lunar eclipse, this year we will be able to view a total solar eclipse that stretches from coast to coast on U.S. soil. The last time such an event happened was February 26, 1979—over 38 years ago. Such an event is very rare and beautiful!
However, there’s no lack of questions that come about as the solar eclipse event draws closer by the day. Some are silly, some are based in myth, and some come from genuine curiosity. Below are the top five questions about the solar eclipse answered, with sources linked at the bottom.
1. How Long does the Total Solar Eclipse Last?
The solar eclipse is estimated to last 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Though, this is just estimated. The closer towards the center line you are the better of a chance you have to take in this event. However, no one can say for sure right-on-the-dot when the solar eclipse will happen. Just that it will happen. Meaning, it would be best to get to your solar eclipse viewing spot early! Some of you might be thinking, “That’s it? I’m not going to waste my time with that!” That’s fine, but you’ll be missing an event that not only blocks out the sun, but makes nature itself get turned on its head.
2. What Happens during the Total Solar Eclipse?
Your location plays a big part in everything in the total solar eclipse, but it is common for where you stand to resemble twilight once the sun is completely covered by the moon. The birds and animals may go silent as they believe night the day has suddenly turned to night. The temperature will usually drop 10°–15° F in degree, and the brightest planets and stars will come out to shine. For a few seconds white flares will dance around the solar eclipse. The moon making it look like a black hole against the much lighter sky. Then, it will be over and won’t return for some time.
3. Will I go Blind if I look at the Total Solar Eclipse?
No, but it is not recommended to look at it without some sort of eye protection. Remember how the sun hurts your eyes, and can sometimes cause eye damage if you look at it for too long? The same reasoning applies to the total solar eclipse. Even though the sun is covered, it is still the sun and super bright. Your eyes are one of the most delicate parts of your body, and can easily burn before you even notice.
That being said, never, never, never look at the sun through a telescope! Exactly like how a magnifying glass can turn into a small focused point hot enough to burn leaves, this can happen to your eye. Worst part? You won’t even know it is happening because the inside of our eyes lack pain sensors!
Please click here for information on how to view the total solar eclipse safely.
4.Where is the Center Line for the Total Solar Eclipse?
The center line will stretch from Oregon to South Carolina. Here is a list of the ‘hot-spots’ along the center line:
Madras, Oregon................................................Around 10:20 a.m. PDT
Snake River Valley, Idaho.................................Around 11:30 a.m. MDT
Casper, Wyoming..............................................Around 11:40 a.m. MDT
Sandhills of Western Nebraska..........................Around 11:50 a.m. MDT
St. Joseph, Missouri.............................................Around 1:00 p.m. CDT
Carbondale, Illinois............................................Around 1:15 p.m. CDT
Hopkinsville, Kentucky.......................................Around 1:20 p.m. CDT
Nashville, Tennessee..........................................Around 1:30 p.m. CDT
Great Smoky Mountains National Park...........Around 2:40 p.m. EDT
Columbia, South Carolina................................Around 2:40 p.m. EDT
5. When will the next Total Solar Eclipse Happen?
The next total solar eclipse that spans across the U.S. will take place April 8th, 2024—seven years in the future. While not far away, the next one after that won’t appear for some time. Making August 21st, 2017, the best bet to make sure you don’t miss your chance to witness this magical occurrence.