On Tuesday, July 19th, a crane, with its boom extended 25 stories high, buckled and collapsed onto the active Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. Thankfully and amazingly, no one was killed and only a couple people sustained minor injuries, but traffic on the bridge was stopped for hours. All but one lane was re-opened on the bridge within 8 hours of the collapse. After the collapse, work began to try to determine the cause of the accident.
Three different investigations are currently underway, led by the New York State Police, the State Labor Department, and OSHA. The fallen crane’s black box has been recovered in hopes of revealing any information that could be useful, just like in airplanes. In cranes, the black box records valuable data, including weight distribution and boom angles. Interviews have also been conducted with the operator of the crane.
At the time of the collapse, the crane, a Manitowoc lattice-boom crawler crane (according to the New York Times), was positioned on top of the new and adjacent bridge under construction. Working in tandem with an operator of a remote-controlled vibrating hammer, the crane operator was tasked with driving steel piles, some as large as 300 feet long and 6 feet in diameter, into the Hudson River bed below, when something went wrong.
The New York Times spoke with Jeff J. Loughlin, a representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 137, and he remains confident that this collapsed was not caused due to operator error. Wind has also been ruled out as a cause, as it was very calm that day. Laughlin theorized that the collapse could have been caused by the pile finding a soft spot in the river bed, causing the hammer to drop rapidly. But, that’s only a theory, for now.
The most sobering thought of this accident was that the pile driving procedure was extremely routine at this point of the project. Around 1,000 piles have been driven into the river bed already, but this is the first time a crane has gone down. It’s a strong reminder that no matter how routine we think our work is, it’s still construction work and it’s still very dangerous.
Full story: Investigations Into Tappan Zee Crane Collapse Ask How a Routine Job Went Awry | New York Times
2016 has been a big year for OSHA, as the organization has raised the cost of fines for safety violations for the first time since 1990. Made, effective in August, fines were raised 78%, making the cost of a serious violation $12,471. The construction industry is by far the most affected by OSHA regulations, as it accounted for 43.3% of all citations, 52.92% of all inspections, and 44.16% of all penalties assessed from October 2015 to September 2016. Of all specific types of contractors, roofing contractors account for the largest quantity of citations (6,924), following by framing contractors (3,810), and masonry contractors (2,501).
Dubai has held the record for world’s tallest building since the opening of the Burj Khalifa in 2010. The gigantic tower, which houses office, residential, retail, and hotel space spread over 163 floors stands 2,717 feet (828m) in the air. It was an impressive feat, once in which Dubai and the United Arab Emirates pride themselves on, but in a few short years, its crown will be passed to a new record holder.
Habitat for Humanity is one of the construction industry’s favorite volunteer organization and for good reason. Over the past 40 years, the non-profit builder has helped construct, rehabilitate, or preserve over 800,000 affordable houses for families in need. It’s truly an area that construction workers throughout the world can showcase their skills and donate their time, in order to give back to their community.
There have been several new laws in 2016, or new enforcement styles of existing laws, that are ready to make their mark on the construction industry. Among them are the US Department of Labor’s new rules on overtime pay and the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act. Both laws affect the amount construction employees must be paid and when they should receive that pay, so documentation of employee time sheets and payments is becoming increasingly important. If your company plans to bid on any Federal Government work, violations of these new laws can keep you from getting the job.
There’s no doubt that construction is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but there was a time when power tools and heavy construction machinery didn’t even exist. Even with those tools being absent on job sites, amazing structures were still built for thousands of years and with extremely intricate detail. SO how exactly did they do it? Tons of manpower and tons of time, something that many modern jobs don’t have the luxury of. Ignoring all of today’s modern conveniences, a group of French construction workers and other skilled tradesmen and women have teamed up to build an authentic 13th Century style castle.
2016 has been filled with controversial law changes affecting contractors, like the first increase in OSHA fines in 27 years, OSHA’s new injury reporting rule, and new overtime pay rules. Industry groups have submitted comments hoping to ease the pain on contractors, but have not had any success overturning any of them. The next challenge facing contractors started with the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order signed in July 31.
Even though self-driving vehicles are just that, self-driving, they’ve always still had a seat for a driver and a steering wheel. Perhaps that means that designers were afraid that their technology wouldn’t work correctly. Or maybe, customers weren’t fully committed to only being able to use them as a self-driving vehicle. Well, it seems as if Komatsu isn’t worried about either of those things anymore, as they’ve officially unveiled their newest autonomous (self-driving) haulage vehicle this week at MINExpo, which was held in Las Vegas from September 26-28, 2016.
Decades in the making, The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) officially opened its doors to the public on September 24, 2016. Contained inside are over 36,000 artifacts that document and promote the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history and is “the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture,” according to the museum’s website.
There are people who spend their lives searching for Big Foot or the Lock Ness Monster, but sometimes humans only find legends when they’re not specifically looking for them. Reports have surfaced this week of a construction crew in Altamira, Para in Brazil which has apparently found the largest snake in history on their job site.
There’s no doubt that road work can be a huge inconvenience to drivers, but many times businesses in the route of the work can suffer more, even causing some to have to close permanently. While many projects around the country have been navigating towards pre-fabricated and modular construction to reduce the time workers actually spend on site, a project in Canada will be opting for the giant inflatable tunnel method.