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Quick Quiz - Where is the nearest fire extinguisher right now? Where is the closest portable fire extinguisher to your work area?

It is very important that we are aware of the locations of portable fire extinguishers because if a fire were to occur, in the panic of the moment seconds count.

More importantly, when is the last time you actually looked at the portable fire extinguisher in your work area?

  • Is it charged fully?
  • Is it damaged?
  • Is it the proper type for the hazards in your area?
  • Is it hung properly?
  • Is it blocked?
  • Has it been hydrostatically tested in the past 5-12 years?

In the construction industry, fatalities have been known to occur because corrosion build-up on the bottom of the fire extinguisher was serious enough that the extinguisher case ruptured when it was activated. The parts struck the employee in the chest.

 A similar incident occurred in 1988. This fire extinguisher had a rubber boot or cap to protect the bottom of the cylinder case. Moisture had seeped in between the rubber and outside cylinder wall and caused the cylinder to corrode inside the boot.


     


Over time, this corrosion weakened the cylinder and it ruptured when the internal CO2 cylinder was activated. Other extinguishers of this type have been found to have the same type of corrosion underneath the rubber boot.

These stories remind us of the importance of In-depth inspections and routine testing of these devices. Especially if your fire extinguishers have rubber or plastic boots or caps and are located in potentially corrosive environments such as:

  •  outside, unprotected from the weather
  •  wet or damp environment, or
  •  near marine facilities or other waterfront buildings, especially those located near salt water

Many contractors have a third-party service inspect fire extinguishers monthly or on another periodic schedule. However, we also recommend taking personal responsibility because safety is everyone's responsibility. Have you looked at the extinguisher in your work area? Are you sure it has been looked at recently? Are you sure it wasn't missed during the last formal inspection? 

We urge you to take a moment today and take a look at any extinguisher in your area. Let your superintendent or supervisor know if you see signs that it is damaged or uncharged so it can be taken out of service and a replacement installed... it may just save a life.

There are a couple of frequently used sayings concerning this type of behavior, such as, “Haste Makes Waste” and “The Hurrier I Go, the Behinder I Get.” Another one which is more closely associated with safety on the job is, “Hurrying-Up Can Hurt.”


These types of accidents are easy to identify, but there are others resulting from being in a hurry that we should consider for a moment. For instance:

  • Using the wrong ladder for the job just because it is closer than the one that is the right height.
  • Not wearing safety glasses because the job will only take a second.
  • Not taking time to properly lock-out and tag machinery you want to make repairs on.
  • Carrying a heavy object without first planning a safe route.
  • Leaving water or oil on the floor for someone else to wipe up—probably with the seat of their pants.
Sometime, think back to an incident when you nearly got hurt. When you review the circumstances of the near-miss, there is a good chance that hurrying was part of your difficulty. If you took a shortcut, you probably realize, as most of us do sooner or later, the shortcut really didn’t save any time and was not worth the risk involved.

However, it should be pointed out that while hurrying unnecessarily is frowned upon, faster ways of doing things may be beneficial at times. If you think that there is a better way of doing a certain job, by all means bring it to the attention of your Supervisor. But do not proceed to use the new method or make any changes without first getting them approved.

One of the safest means of speeding up operations is through experience. As we become more familiar with our jobs, our efficiency and speed increase. But this is taken into consideration in planning jobs and how they should be handled; and then, of course, we all reach a point where increased speed through experience becomes negligible, and the danger of not remaining alert on the job grows.

Obviously, accidents cost money. So if you think that meeting the cost of living is rough now, just imagine what it would be like if you had to face expenses without a full paycheck because of a work injury. So, both physically and financially, hurrying can hurt.
In recent years women have more than proven they can drive changes in construction—which is why Constructech magazine has just announced the winners of their first annual Women in Construction award program. The award recognizes women showing leadership through: 1) involvement with technology within the construction industry, 2) contribution to helping their company grow and progress via the use of cutting edge-edge solutions, 3) influence in the growth of technology within the overall construction industry, 4) inspiration for other women in industry, technology, or her local community. 
 
Two Donley’s team members: Katie Robbins, Finance Director and Courtney Moore, Project Manager were selected as winners of the award.
 

Katie joined the Donley's team in 2011 serving as its Financial Planning and Analysis Manager. In April 2015, Katie was promoted to Finance Director and is now responsible for financial planning analysis, budgeting, forecasting and cash management, as well as strategic planning.  Additionally, Katie oversees the ConstructAssure subcontractor default insurance program and works closely with Donley's Chief Financial Officer to manage the Contractor Controlled Insurance Program and other Risk Management programs.
 
As a self-described "Process Junkie" Katie starts every project with three questions: 1. How can I make this process better? 2. How can I make this process faster? 3. How can I make the results more meaningful?
 
By looking at each project from this unique perspective, Katie has been able to extract data in ways that allow Donley's leadership to better understand what the data means which ultimately leads to better business decisions. One such area  that has seen significant growth is job-cost reporting. Advocating the use of the SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) platform, Katie, working side-by-side with IT, demonstrated  to Donley's leadership the power of the service. Today, Donley's is able to conduct up-to-the-minute job reports measuring productivity, quality and cost as well as monitor business cash flow.
 
Another area of data analysis and review that Katie has developed has been Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reporting. One of the first projects Katie was tasked with, she mined and analyzed all available data to come up with appropriate indicators to measure  company performance. Today, KPIs measure Safety, Quality, Schedule and Cost across all jobs and is now a standard in Donley’s process library.  Donley’s ownership utilizes the KPIs to identify challenges and to plan for the future.
 
Finally, Katie developed a Weekly Executive Dashboard to monitor billings, retainage, outstanding receivables and job cost variances. This snapshot report identifies financial target areas Donley’s leadership indicated they wanted to review each week. This snapshot report has been instrumental in raising awareness of how cash flows and how the organization operates.
 
Courtney began her construction career in 2004 as a senior project engineer with a construction firm in Santa Monica, California. In 2009, she accepted a position as project manager for a Northeast Ohio-based construction manager specializing in higher education and healthcare projects. Since joining Donley’s as a project manager in 2011, Courtney has worked on high-profile projects for the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.
 
Courtney's philosophy regarding technology is to embrace its use in order to standardize and streamline processes to improve the client's experience with the project. She shares this philosophy by serving as a member of Donley's Technology and Process Improvement Committee. This committee is focused on investigating new construction-related hardware and software in order to provide new resources to employees to make task-management easier and to stay one step ahead of the competition.
 
Through the use of online, virtual meeting software (e.g., Blue Jeans and GoToMeeting) Courtney has been influential in opening the channels of collaboration between Donley's regional and corporate offices in order to standardize many corporate procedures. This collaboration has ultimately led to the standardization of client care provided throughout the organization.
 
Courtney openly shares her knowledge of Viewpoint by assisting/training project engineers and other project managers on ViewPoint's ERM modules such as cost accounting, subcontracts, and RFI submittals. In addition, Courtney brings this knowledge to the subcontractor community. Courtney explains, "Every day there is some level of training within the subcontractor community to get them up to speed on the software we [Donley's] use." Web-based applications such as Submittal Exchange, PlanGrid, Newforma are all utilized by Donley's and make document processes/exchange easier, but require that all team members--including subcontractors--understand the applications. Courtney works with each subcontractor to ensure they are adequately trained.
 
We are proud of the recognition that Katie and Courtney have received.  At Donley’s,  genuine people providing innovative solutions in support of our clients’ vision, budget, and schedule is part of our work.
 
The full list of 2015 Women in Construction winners can also be found in the Sept/Oct issue of Constructech magazine. The issues are available in print or by downloading the Constructech app in the iTunes App Store or Google Play.
 
Constructech magazine is where construction and technology converge. The publication influences construction professionals to unleash the business value of technology. constructech.com
This award recognizes companies with a broad use of technology in order to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. The results must be measurable and driven from effective, innovative use of technology. Donley’s was recognized, in part,  for use of technology in the on-boarding of new employees, use of competency-based training, a recent launch of "Project Management Community" for the construction management business unit, as well as use of the new online performance management module.
 
Special thanks to Cheryl Brant, Director Human Resources (shown here holding the award) for leading the charge to develop and foster a culture of learning throughout the organization. Thanks also to Rachel Moviel, Executive Assistant for such efficient behind-the-scenes administration of the program.
Last week at the Ohio Society for Healthcare Facilities Management Fall Conference, Donley's teamed with our client Mercy Regional Medical Center and architect levelHEADS to discuss the successful Integrated Project Delivery approach recently employed at Mercy.  


The presentation highlighted the lessons learned on the project.  It also focused on the do's and don'ts to successfully implement an IPD approach.  

Interested in learning more?  You can access the full presentation here.
DonleysIPDinACTION.pdf (1.5MB)
What makes The University of Mary Washington’s Campus Center Atrium Smoke Control System noteworthy is that the Fire Alarm/Atrium Smoke Control System was demonstrated to ‘Operate As Intended’ on Virginia's Bureau of Capital Outlay Management's (BCOM’s) initial visit to observe the system. This is a first in BCOM observation history! It took a well-coordinated and concerted effort by UMW, Donley’s, StantecColonial WebbConvergint TechnologiesM.C.Dean, and Bala Consulting Engineers to reach this achievement.


A technically sophisticated system, the Atrium Smoke Control System is integrated with the Campus Center’s architectural, fire protection system, and mechanical system components.  Due to the complexity in integrating these numerous components together, multiple tests and adjustments are typically required in order to demonstrate that the Fire Alarm System/Atrium Smoke Control System “Operates As Intended.”  In addition, there is a specific order, known as Sequence of Operations, that must occur for the system to be considered “Operational as Intended.”

The new University of Mary Washington’s Campus Center is being touted as the “living room” of the campus. Located along College Avenue on the Fredericksburg main campus, the building features a three-story atrium with a sculptural monumental three-story stair, a working fireplace, a ball room, dining center, student organization offices, and plenty of meeting spaces for students to gather and relax. 
Setting a good example is not a put-on. It's simply working safety into your daily routine at home and on the job. When we all work safely, everyone's job is safe and their future more secure.


New employees certainly benefit by seeing operations conducted the safe way. As you all know from experience, people new on the job take a while to adjust and to discover who they are in the overall set-up of the plant. New employees who have never held a job before or were employed by a firm that had a weak safety program probably will need considerable safety instruction. We will attempt to give it to them, but naturally, they also observe and seek advice and information from fellow workers. These early impressions of you and of safety operations will be at least partially formed through these contacts and observations.

On the other hand, newcomers formerly employed by a firm that emphasized safety will probably think more of you personally if you measure up to the caliber of people they are accustomed to working with.

"Don't do as I do; do as I say" is a pretty tired expression, and it got tired because we all have repeated it many times not just verbally but through our actions; and actions speak louder than words. When we leave our safety glasses resting on our foreheads rather than in place over our eyes, or when we kick an empty milk carton under a bench rather than pick it up, we're selling safety but it's a useless soft sell. Our actions are saying, "I believe in wearing eye protection but not in protecting my eyes; and I know trash can cause a tripping accident, but it isn't important enough to make me pick it up." 

There's another angle to setting good examples. Too often people dress to impress others with their good taste rather than their knowledge of safety. Wearing rings, bracelets, and other ornaments is dangerous around machinery and in many other jobs where it's possible for jewelry to be caught by moving parts of machinery, thus cause injury to the wearer. Long sleeves, floppy pant legs, and long hair can be hazardous on some jobs, too.

So we should always dress for the job. Our image as a fashion expert may suffer, but it will give way to the more important and more beneficial image of safety.

Maybe some of us feel we are already setting good examples for safety, but maybe this self-image isn't too accurate. Think just for a moment isn’t it strange that we always think about having the nice things happen to us and when we think about an accident, it's usually happening to someone else?

Accidents are a reality. Make your personal safety just as real and you'll have a good chance of not becoming the other person to whom accidents are always happening.

We also might remember that our children someday will be entering the work force. And they, like the newcomer on the job, can benefit by our actions that exemplify safety consciousness.

Most of us try to demonstrate to our kids how to cross streets or how to light matches when they're of age. If, through the years, your kids learn from you how to use a ladder correctly, or that it's good practice to keep tools in their proper places or that there's a right way to lift things, you've given them an additional opportunity for the better life the future promises.
Over the past few weeks we have been discussing some of the chemistry of hazardous materials; today I am going to expand our science curriculum into combustion.  Any program on fire prevention and safety is based on a clear understanding of how materials ignite. In order for a fire to occur, three elements are required; Oxygen, Heat, and Fuel. These elements are frequently shown as the "fire triangle."



The elements of combustion are very similar to the construction of a triangle in that all sides must come together before a fire can occur. Therefore, the goal of a fire safety program is to keep these elements apart. Since oxygen is present in nearly all industrial work situations we must separate or control the heat and fuel sources to reduce the chances of fire.

Take a look around your work areas today--and everyday--where both heat and fuel sources may be found. And remember housekeeping is important. Keep your work areas clean and organized. It is also important to know your evacuation route in case of a fire, as well as the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

Case Western Reserve University's Tinkham Veale University Center (The "Tink")  has received LEED Gold certification, well exceeding the project’s minimum requirement of LEED Silver. Congratulations to the project architect, Perkins+Will and Donley’s construction management team led by project executive, Greg Consolo, for their efforts and handwork to reach this achievement!  

To earn LEED Gold certification, the Tinkham Veale University Center had to earn between 60 and 79 points under the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) green building rating system. LEED components include a live, green roof, FSC certified wood panels, recycled carpet tiles, recycled glass terrazzo floor, structural steel with recycled content, chilled beam cooling system, radiant heat flooring system, double glass curtainwall with passive air system, and an automated, solar-intelligent shade system.  You can read more details about Donley's work on the Tink project here.

Experience this extraordinary building first-hand by holding your next event there. Visit the Tinkham Veale website to learn more.