Engineering Firm Takes Hard Line on Safety

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Robison Wells
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Facing a new project in 2019, Keith Switzer of INTEC Group, found himself in a meeting about safety on a new four-story housing project, and he decided he was going to take this seriously. It began by making a list. The meeting turned into a brainstorming session where, as he puts it, they said “if you did this differently, this would be a safer way of doing XYZ.”

Two years later, he has a list of 122 safety changes made to the project and a stellar record: no serious injuries for the more than 200 construction workers and maintenance staff. He says the list has prevented “trips and slips, gnarled knees and fingers, of tragedies erased from the calendar of future human mishap.”

Some of the items on the list seem small, like Number 58 “Safety tie-offs for window washing” but it all started with a big Number 1: “Move the building.” The building was built too close to another building, which would mean they would need extensive shoring and retention systems. By moving the building to a different place on the property, they avoided that.

“Initially, the new building was positioned in a space that would require extensive shoring. This original location also created tighter construction constraints, given the proximity to an electrical farm and an occupied building on campus. By relocating the footprint 20 ft north and 20 ft west, the project team eliminated entirely the need for soldier piles and lagging and only had to do a small amount of soil nailing.”

Of the list making, Switzer says “It’s really simple, but it takes commitment and discipline.”

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