Though the venues of the Rio Olympics may look great on camera, the behind the scenes issues that occurred left Olympic officials stunned. It seemed that Rio was behind schedule from the start, which may have fueled some of the job site conditions that resulted in 11 construction workers’ deaths over the course of the project. Even back in 2014, John D. Coates, the Vice President of the Olympic Committee told reporters that Brazil was not ready for the Olympics “in many, many ways” and also called their preparation worse than Athens, Greece in 2004. Brazil was also the host of the 2014 World Cup and 8 construction workers were killed on the job, including 2 that were killed by a collapsed crane at San Paulo Stadium. Zero deaths were reported during the building process for the 2012 London Olympics.
The Ministry of Labor and Employment recently released an audit of the job site conditions throughout the Olympics projects and infractions totaled in the thousands. In the inspections by the Ministry that took place from the beginning of construction in January of 2013 to July of 2016, about 1,675 infractions were found, according to Think Progress. Among the infractions were 630 counts of informally hired employees with no official record, lack of safety equipment, and many situations involving overworked employees. Many reported that not only were they not given the required 11 hours off between work shifts, but some were working 23 hour shifts or up to 25 straight days without paid time off. As many in the construction industry know, fatigue is a leading cause of construction injuries and fatalities. Work was stopped on job sites around 38 times due to infractions.
According to Globo.com, 3 workers were killed building the Metro Line 4, 2 were killed surrounding the Olympic park, and 1 worker was killed at each of the following locations: Museum of Tomorrow, High of Joah, Transolimpica, New Subida de Serra, superhighway, and the Museum of Image and Sound. Causes of deaths included being crushed by a truck, being whipped by a compressive air hose, a death by burial, and several deaths by electrical shock.
It’s a sobering reminder that being unprepared for a large construction projects can have devastating results. Proper planning, preparation, and work force must be in place to conduct a safe and productive job site. Hopefully, the Olympic committee recognizes the immense responsibility of properly vetting countries’ preparedness before awarding them the next Olympic site. One job site death is one too many.
Concrete is an extremely strong building material, but has a notoriously weak tensile strength. In order to resist tension, bending, and shear forces, steel rebar or other reinforcement materials are added either prior to the placement or into the mix. Even with reinforcement, concrete is still extremely rigid and prone to cracking. In the event of a major earthquake, the uneven and horizontal forces can cause structures to crack and, in the worst case, cause failure.
Construction Safety is talked about constantly. There are many construction companies that take it very seriously. There are also many that don’t. All will say it’s their top priority.
So what can a city do that’s facing regular worker deaths and increases in workplace injuries? New York City has decided to require extensive safety training for all of the 185,000 construction workers in the city.
Modular building makes a lot of sense: build repetitive structures in a controlled, factory-like setting and transport to the project site and assemble. It should be a more efficient and less expensive way to construct a building, but the truth is, it’s a lot harder than it looks. There’s also no written standard for doing it.
Masonry workers, specifically brick and block masons, have been around for centuries and are one of the construction industries oldest professions. Before blocks were prefabricated and purchased, masons had to cut the material by hand before placing. Recently, robotic brick and block placing robots have threatened to take some jobs away from human masons, but that technology is still a long way away from making a huge impact on the profession
The immense technological growth the construction industry has seen in the past decade has been a refreshing change, to say the least. Fax machines, large filing cabinets, and redundant work are slowly becoming a thing of the past. More importantly, software developers are actually paying attention to the construction industry, making our lives collectively easier, while giving us more data to make better decisions. Bluebeam, maker of one of the industry’s favorite construction document software, has recently announced a wireless digital sensor specifically for under construction buildings.
Portable toilets are the setting for many pranks around a construction site, but I never thought there could be something worse than just getting stuck in one. Turns out I was extremely wrong, because a worker in New Orleans was run over by a dump truck while using the port-a-john.
Electricians are very essential to every single construction project, but it's also one of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry, According to OSHA, electrocutions cause almost 9% of all construction related deaths, making it one of the group's Fatal Four. Generally, an electrician in the United States falls under 1 of 3 categories: apprentice, journeyman, and master, but this data compiles all of those levels into one category. It's also important to note that utility line installers are not included in this category.
At last week’s National Safety Council Congress & Expo, OSHA’s deputy director of Directorare of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, announced their 10 most frequesntly cited safety violations for their fiscal year 2017, reports the National Safety Council.
Smaller heavy construction equipment is the most likely to be stolen on a jobsite, but most of the time the thieves try to sell the equipment for money. On rare occasions, the thief just takes the machine out on the town for a joy ride and leading the police on some pretty frustrating pursuits. Early last year, a man in Florida stole a backhoe and lead police on a wild 3 hour chase as the hammer attachment drug along the asphalt throwing sparks the whole way. Just last week, police dash cam footage showed an 18 year old backing over a police cruiser, with an officer still inside, and then leading several other officers on a slow chase.
The Seattle Space Needle is not a normal building, which makes it a unique project to try to renovate. The iconic building is set to receive a $100 million renovation dubbed the Century Project that promises much better views thanks to new floor to ceiling exterior glazing. To prepare for the project, construction crews recently hoisted a 28.000 pound ring of scaffold to the tower’s Tophouse, around 400 feet in the air.