Topics in Construction Discussed at AIHce Expo

A number of presenters discussed EHS issues and how they crop up in the construction work place.

SEATTLE -- A Monday afternoon session at AIHce looked at the construction industry, and just how often EHS issues tend to affect the way work is done in those settings. Three different speakers presented their experience on this topic, starting with Jeff Behar of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Behar oversaw a number of construction projects on behalf of the JPL, including the mission critical control center. In taking a systematic approach, Behar was able to assign accountability and develop a cohesive workflow that could easily be passed down to the lowest levels. A team approach made it easy to identify which projects required certain teams.

The biggest challenge, according to Behar, was keeping the control center operational during the renovation. The space requires very little noise and vibration distraction, so a number of pre-bid safety documentations were required.

Next, Dr. Michael Grant of the CDC presented his efforts in integrating a Total Worker Health solution on a commercial construction site. Commercial construction presents a number of obvious challenges, namely a dynamic work environment that is physically demanding.

On top of that, commercial work sites typically have a workforce that has constant turnover as well as poor health, making it difficult to implement a complex plan. Ultimately Dr. Grant wanted to develop a soft tissue injury prevention program that would help the workers cope with injuries that are rarely reported.

On numerous occasions, Dr. Grant heard from focus groups that "pain is just weakness leaving the body." Noting that these workers have simply adapted to a lifestyle that involves constant pain, he came to the conclusion that focus groups would not be beneficial in this circumstance.

Finally, Daniel Chute explained his process for building a publication that looked at health and safety during disaster rebuilding. The first question he asked himself is, "How do we leave these communities better than before the disaster?"

Because relief efforts typically involve a lot of outside agencies, it can be challenging to juggle informing everyone about baseline safety practices, which made implementing them into the construction guidelines that much more important.

Lingering exposure was a big concern, including exposure to things like lead, carbon monoxide, mold, etc.

Ultimately, Chute and his team produced a mobile-first publication that was easily accessible, as well as a top ten list that was good for instant takeaways from the project.

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