COVID-19 continues to challenge our way of life. For your construction projects, these challenges include idle jobsites, new and increasing protective measures for all involved in the construction and the costs associated. This quarter’s articles continue to shed light on how the industry is rising to meet these challenges.
We hope you and your family are, and remain, healthy!
How construction firms can prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19
by Kim Slowey
ConstructionDive.com, May18, 2020
Although the U.S. economy is slowly starting to come back to life, contractors can't let their guard down just yet. Consider these precautions.
Although many coronavirus-related shutdown and stay-at- home orders are in still in place, the U.S. is on the road to loosening restrictions to keep the outbreak at bay. Since several areas of construction were considered essential, the industry has a leg up on others that have been completely shut down since the pandemic began.
But even as the country’s economy slowly comes back to life, top medical experts have warned that there could be a second wave of COVID-19 cases once more people come into contact with each other and in the fall when colder weather arrives and the regular flu season begins again.
So, how should contractors prepare for a potential second round of COVID-19? Construction Dive talked to a variety of industry experts for guidance.
A big concern among contractors is keeping employees safe as they continue working or return to projects. To that end, general contractors, including like Suffolk Construction, start by following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and then adjust them accordingly, said Mike DiNapoli, general manager of Suffolk’s Northern California operations.
“Our safety protocols, training and checklists will continue to evolve in response to new developments,” he said.
For example, Suffolk is staggering start times so that workers will be able to better adhere to social distancing guidelines. The company has also designated some stairways as one-way travel only and assigned workers to certain floors to reduce the chance that they will encounter each other.
Suffolk has also created the position of “COVID Ambassador.” The company will assign these individuals to Suffolk offices and jobsites to make sure that the protocols meant to protect employees from exposure to the novel coronavirus are implemented and followed.
Technology could also play a role in worker safety, DiNapoli said, and Suffolk is considering outfitting workers with wearable Triax monitors to help them maintain a safe distance from each other. Something else the company is looking into is infrared-based temperature tech to make jobsite screening for COVID-19 more efficient.
“Our goal is to have the safest jobsites in the entire country, and our strong commitment to jobsite safety will continue long after the COVID-19 crisis passes,” he said.
Likewise, Boston-based Shawmut Design and Construction recently implemented Feevr, a device that uses artificial intelligence to detect elevated temperatures in groups of people to determine if any workers might have a fever without having to come into physical contact with the individual.
And Managers at Thornton Tomasetti are considering a shift to more remote field options, according to Marguerite Pinto, associate principal and a leader of the engineering firm’s New York forensic practice. This could include drones and 360-degree cameras to limit the number of people they must send to each project in the future.
“If someone can get a whole lot more imagery walking through with a 360-degree camera, then maybe we don’t need to send three or four people," she said.
Offering more opportunities for remote work — when the position allows — is also something on the mind of construction leaders, many of whom have been pleased with their firms' shift to telework since the pandemic started.
New Chicago Office Building Is One Of The First In The U.S. Designed For Post COVID-19 Environment
By Julia Brenner
Forbes.com, June 15, 2020
Located in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, Fulton East (215 N. Peoria St.) is a 12-story, 90,000-square-foot office and retail building slated to open late summer 2020. The newly constructed development is also among the first commercial buildings specifically designed for a post COVID-19 world.
“At the time COVID-19 hit, our team immediately pivoted to research how to best address the concerns that we understood COVID-19 would raise for tenants and their employees,” says Bob Wislow, chairman and CEO of Parkside Realty, Inc., the developer of Fulton East. According to Wislow, as of mid-March, concerns among Fulton East’s future tenants became “seismic” and required the team to “instantaneously” place health and wellness at the forefront of the project, causing the opening date to shift from July to August in order to implement a new design strategy. “Every employee and their family is acutely aware of—and deeply concerned about— safety and well-being in the workplace environment,” Wislow explains. “As an under-construction, boutique office building, we fortunately had the opportunity to modify Fulton East’s design in response to COVID-19 in real time, allowing us to thoughtfully address employers’ increased concerns for their employees’ office experience and create an environment where hygiene, health, safety, and wellness are holistically considered.”
After extensive research, the team implemented key structural changes, including the world’s first new-construction installation of Canada-based MAD Elevator Inc.’s Toe-To-Go (T2G) elevator system, which utilizes foot-activated call buttons for a hands-free elevator experience, reducing the spread of germs. “We made a major investment of time and capital to bring Fulton East to market as a next- generation office building that prioritizes health, safety, and wellness for our tenants’ employees in a coordinated and comprehensive way,” Wislow says.
Fulton East will also be among the first multi-story office buildings to employ airPHX (“air fix”) non-thermal, plasma technology throughout the building to help reduce cross-contaminant risks and provide employees with cleaner air and work surfaces. The airPHX technology is currently in use in such commercial spaces as hospitals and dental clinics, and independent on-site testing has shown reductions of 90% to 99% of viruses, bacteria and mold, both on surfaces and in the air. According to Wislow, “MAD Elevator’s hands-free elevator system and air and surface disinfection, as provided by airPHX machines, not only address today’s COVID-19 concerns but also other contagious pathogens to help avoid the spread of colds and flu, keeping building occupants healthier at all times.”
In terms of space planning in a post COVID-19 business environment, Fulton East’s new design features 10,605-square-foot floor plates to accommodate safe social distancing and allow for custom space planning.
Fulton East’s post-COVID-19 design strategy includes the following modifications:
- Touch-free thermal scanning at the lobby security desk to check people’s temperatures. Read More
Major stadium projects impacted by COVID-19 slowdowns
By Kim Slowey
ConstructionDive.com, June 25, 2020
While major sports leagues have postponed their opening days or suspended play indefinitely until fear around the novel coronavirus subsides, construction on many new stadiums and arenas continues.
However, some construction teams are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks on their projects, as well as looming deadlines.
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, home to the NFL's New Orleans Saints, is undergoing a four-year, $450 million facelift, with scheduled work to include concourse expansions, new entry gates, escalators, upgrades to food and beverage areas and improved technology infrastructure.
However, last week, according to CBS Sports, general contractor Broadmoor LLC sent 32 of the project’s 275 daily workers home after they tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Some days workers on the job could total as many as 500.
After ordering the affected workers off the job so that they can isolate, Broadmoor issued additional personal protective equipment to the remaining crews but did not shut down the project.
Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
The NFL's Las Vegas Raiders are scheduled to kick off their inaugural season in the brand new $2 billion Allegiant Stadium this fall, although what those first games might look like is an unknown and dependent on how public health officials are able to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
What is certain is that despite reports of several workers testing positive for the coronavirus, construction, under the supervision and management of the Mortenson-McCarthy Joint Venture, has not slowed.
At the end of May, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that up to 31 stadium workers had tested positive for the virus. There are typically 2,000 workers on the site each day, with that figure ballooning to as high as 4,000 as crews keep up the pace necessary to meet the project schedule.
The JV has reportedly been sanitizing the site, making sure everyone entering the facility practices social distancing and providing sufficient training and PPE — all in an effort to reduce the chance that those working and visiting the stadium are exposed.
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The University of Alabama's football stadium is undergoing a $106 million renovation, but progress hit a bump in May when an unknown number of workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
General contractor Caddell Construction Co. told the Tuscaloosa News that both its own employees and those of subcontractors tested positive, so it shut down construction for a weekend in order to sanitize the site and perform additional testing so that the rest of the project's workers could be cleared before returning to work.
Caddell said that workers are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OSHA COVID-19 safety guidelines. In addition, the University has supplied the site with sanitation supplies, signage, thermometers and PPE. Read More