White-Spunner Construction

Construction Contractors in Mobile, Alabama

SAFETY WEEK 2018

SAFETY WEEK 2018 150 150 White-Spunner Construction

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.

THE HISTORY OF SAFETY IN CONSTRUCTION

THE HISTORY OF SAFETY IN CONSTRUCTION 150 150 White-Spunner Construction

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.

Late 1800s

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.

1900-1920s

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.

1930s

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:

  • Hard hats
  • Respirator masks for the riveters to prevent the inhalation of lead-tainted fumes
  • Glare-free goggles to enhance visibility and to ward off “snowblindness” created by the water
  • Special hand and face cream to protect skin against the strafing winds
  • Carefully formulated diet to help fight dizziness during construction
  • Sauerkraut juice to “cure” men suffering from hangovers
  • And on-site field hospital, staffed by doctors, located near the construction site
  • A safety net bought from the circus for $130,000; saved 19 lives during construction

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.

1970s

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.

1990s—Today

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.

Silica Dust: What, Why, & How

Silica Dust: What, Why, & How 150 150 White-Spunner Construction

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.

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.

Washing of hands with soap under running water

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 Awarded 2017 AGC BuildSouth

White-Spunner Construction Awarded 2017 AGC BuildSouth 150 150 White-Spunner Construction

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.

Find the full list of 2017 Honorees HERE.