ARTBA, Construction Industry Allies Develop COVID-19 Guidance Materials

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and its partners in the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) have developed a suite of guidance materials to assist contractors in safely performing essential construction activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The materials, which are available in English and Spanish, include a “toolbox” training talk, a checklist for safe work practices and a template to help build a prevention, preparedness and response plan they can customize to their individual companies and organizations.

“The development of transportation infrastructure has been and continues to be essential to America’s economy,” says Bradley Sant, ARTBA’s senior vice president for safety and education. “During this unprecedented health crisis, this information will help construction contractors to keep working on key projects while also helping them educate their employees about safe project sites and practices.”

The multi-lingual materials are available on ARTBA’s website, along with many other materials to assist and inform industry members about working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Established in 1902 and with more than 8,000 public and private sector members, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA advocates for strong investment in transportation infrastructure to meet the public and business community demand for safe and efficient travel.

ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY SAFETY COALITION

The Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) is made up of 25 trade associations, representing all sectors of the construction industry, including commercial building, heavy industrial production, home building, road repair, specialty trade contractors and material suppliers. Virtually every construction trade, task, and activity is represented by the member associations of the CISC. Workplace safety and health is a priority for all members of the coalition, and each is committed to helping create safer construction jobsites for workers.

For more information visit: www.artba.org

Komatsu rebrands company-owned distributors in eastern, western & southwest North America

Company continues to invest in improved support capabilities,

distributor growth and customer satisfaction goals

To better support customers and leverage the power of their wholly-owned network, Komatsu has created a new structure in North America to strengthen the growth of company-owned distributor branches. A new corporate unit within Komatsu has been created and effective immediately, all company-owned distributor locations will be branded simply “Komatsu” to reflect their inclusion in the company’s global footprint.  

The change supports Komatsu’s long-term strategic plans to grow and strengthen its distribution channels. With the alignment of these larger groups of premiere distributors, customers will have access to additional equipment and parts inventory, as well as greater service and support resources. Trade territory for the renamed branches remains the same, as do all equipment lines sold, and services provided.

Grant Adams, former president of Komatsu Southwest, has been appointed to lead the new unit as vice president and general manager of company-owned distribution. His responsibilities will include defining strategy, managing profitability and continuing to develop strength among the regional leadership teams. 

The rebrand effects the branches along the eastern seaboard formerly named: Pine Bush Equipment, Midlantic Machinery, Komatsu Northeast and Edward Ehrbar; those in New Mexico and Texas under the name Komatsu Southwest; and sites in Nevada, Montana, Utah and Wyoming under the Komatsu Equipment Company banner. 

“More than just a name change, this decision shows Komatsu’s commitment to provide the best customer support in the territories where these branches do business,” said Rod Schrader, chairman and CEO of Komatsu’s North American operations. “Ultimately, we want to make it an easy decision for customers to come back to us again and again for equipment, service and solutions.” 

signage outside of Rutherford’s facility

“Customers can rest assured that the team helping them grow their businesses yesterday will be there for them tomorrow,” said Adams. “They’ll just have more resources. And I’m looking forward to taking all the best practices at a regional and branch level and incorporating them across the organization, so the whole equals more than the sum of its parts.” 

About Komatsu

Komatsu is an industry-leading manufacturer and supplier of equipment, technologies and services for the construction, forklift, mining, industrial and forestry markets. For nearly a century, Komatsu equipment and services have been used by companies worldwide to develop modern infrastructure, extract fundamental minerals, maintain forests and create technology and consumer products. The company’s global service and distributor networks support customer operations, tapping into the power of data and technology to enhance safety and productivity while optimizing performance. For more information, visit https://www.komatsuamerica.com/ .

PCA Earns 2020 ENERGY STAR® Partner Of The Year Award

The Portland Cement Association (PCA), representing America’s cement manufacturers, is proud to announce that it has received the 2020 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award for its outstanding collaboration with the ENERGY STAR program and promotion of ENERGY STAR tools. 

“PCA and its members have greatly benefited from participation in the ENERGY STAR program to significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions,” said PCA President and CEO Michael Ireland. “According to ENERGY STAR data, annually, cement plants have total source energy savings of 60.5 trillion Btu and reduced 1.5 million metric tons of energy-related carbon emissions.”

“I salute the 2020 ENERGY STAR award winners,” said Anne Idsal, EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. “These leaders demonstrate how energy efficiency drives economic competitiveness in tandem with environmental protection.”

The ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award recognizes ENERGY STAR partner businesses and organizations in good standing that demonstrate superior leadership, innovation, and commitment to environmental protection through energy efficiency and ENERGY STAR.

For a complete list of 2020 winners and more information about ENERGY STAR’s awards program, visit energystar.gov/awardwinners.

To learn more about the cement industry’s commitment to sustainability, visit https://www.cement.org/sustainability

About Portland Cement Association
The Portland Cement Associationfounded in 1916, is the premier policy research, education, and market intelligence organization serving America’s cement manufacturers. PCA members represent over 90 percent of U.S. cement production capacity and have facilities in all 50 states. The association promotes safety, sustainability, and innovation in all aspects of construction, fosters continuous improvement in cement manufacturing and distribution and generally promotes economic growth and sound infrastructure investment.

About ENERGY STAR
ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. Thousands of industrial, commercial, utility, state, and local organizations—including more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies—rely on their partnership with EPA to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency solutions. Since 1992, ENERGY STAR and its thousands of partners helped American families and businesses save more than 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity and achieve over 3.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions. In 2018 alone, ENERGY STAR and its partners helped Americans avoid nearly $35 billion in energy costs. More background information about ENERGY STAR can be found at: energystar.gov/about and energystar.gov/numbers.

Transportation Construction Continues in Most States; Industry Taking Steps to Ensure Worker Safety as Business Impacts Felt, National Survey Finds

Respondents Urge Congress to Pass Multiyear Highway and Transit Funding Bill to Aid U.S. Economic Recovery

Many of the businesses and public agencies that design, build and maintain the nation’s critical transportation infrastructure continue to work while taking necessary precautions to protect their workforce from COVID-19, according to a new survey of American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) members.
 
With a few exceptions, transportation design and construction projects continue across the country, but survey respondents say they are feeling the effects of the pandemic.  More than two-thirds are experiencing changes or adjustments to project schedules.  Nearly 75 percent are expecting some or major financial impacts on their businesses.
 
When asked what messages they wanted to deliver to Congress and the Trump administration relating to the next coronavirus relief bill, the most common refrains: pass a strong multi-year transportation funding bill to help the economic recovery, “keep workers working” and don’t shut down projects.
 
The survey also showed transportation construction firms have taken additive measures to protect the health and safety of their workers.  Nearly 80 percent are rotating office employees between work and home or allowing them to work remotely. 
 
Respondents said they are taking additional project site safety and health measures, including more regular cleaning of portable toilets (78 percent), third party cleaning (70 percent) and improved handwashing stations (61 percent). 
 
The March 23-27 survey, initiated by ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, included 225 respondents representing the association’s eight membership divisions: contractors, planning and design firms, traffic safety and equipment manufacturers, materials and services firms, public officials and university professors/researchers.  
 
A link to the full results can be found here. 
 
Established in 1902 and with more than 8,000 public and private sector members, Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA advocates for strong investment in transportation infrastructure to meet the public and business community demand for safe and efficient travel.

AEM Reports: WHAT LEADING CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES ARE DOING IN THE WAKE OF COVID-19

As COVID-19 (coronavirus) brings countless businesses to a grinding halt, the construction industry remains resilient — even in the face of tremendous challenge.

Unlike many industries where “working from home” and “drive-thru service” are feasible countermeasures, construction firms have jobsites to run. Chris Hopper, executive vice president and general manager of Skanska, told the Cincinnati Business Courier, “You can’t hang drywall from your house.”

Skanska is a New York-based construction and development firm with projects throughout the country. The company employs more than 10,000. Skanska has developed a multi-faceted COVID-19 response plan to help keep employees safe and jobsites operational.

We looked at what Skanska and other leading construction firms are doing in the wake of COVID-19.

14 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A COVID-19 RESPONSE PLAN FOR CONTRACTORS

  1. Understand and follow CDC guidelines
  2. Place restrictions on travel
  3. Develop screening measures for employees who have recently traveled
  4. Instruct employees to stay home if they are feeling sick
  5. Place restrictions on in-person meetings and other employee gatherings
  6. Encourage employees to work from home if feasible
  7. Train all employees on the 6-foot distancing rule, no handshakes, etc.
  8. Establish thorough cleaning protocols at offices and jobsites
  9. Increase availability of cleaning supplies and handwashing stations at offices and jobsites
  10. Donate N95 respirator masks to local hospitals
  11. Tell elected officials to put partisan bickering aside in this very critical moment of national crisis
  12. Establish dedicated and empowered COVID-19 response teams
  13. Stay up to date on both federal and local COVID-19 developments
  14. Maintain clear, honest and ongoing communication with employees and subcontractors, and perhaps clients and suppliers

BEST PRACTICES TO HELP MITIGATE EXPOSURE

Social distancing is a critical component of any COVID-19 response plan. Turner Construction Company, a New York-based firm that employs roughly 10,000, has begun limiting the size of employee gatherings and has already put a stop to large group meetings. Attending events such as conferences has also been suspended. Remote conferencing technology is now being utilized for meetings. On that note, Turner Construction has expanded its network capacity and training tools to accommodate this surge in online network activity.

Sometimes an essential meeting that requires in-person attendance must take place. Turner Construction mandates that these meetings occur in spaces allowing for adequate social distancing. The CDC recommends that people remain roughly 6 feet apart. Additionally, Turner Construction is adapting standard operating procedures to limit the number of employees in an elevator or hoist at a given time.

Harkins, an employee-owned construction company based in Maryland, constantly reminds employees about the 6-foot rule. Additionally, sick employees are sent home immediately. All gatherings such as lunches are forbidden, and all meetings are now conducted remotely via Microsoft Teams.

Monitoring employees who travel has been another point of focus for construction companies.

Skanska issued a ban on all international travel through at least April. Domestic travel has also been greatly limited.

Turner Construction has restricted all business travel to any CDC Level 3 country, which is a country deemed to have widespread transmission. Also, if any employee had traveled to or had close contact with anyone who traveled to one of these countries, that employee is not allowed onto a Turner jobsite or office for 14 days from the date of contact. Taking it a step further, any employee who exhibits any of the common COVID-19 symptoms is instructed to stay away from Turner jobsites and facilities. Symptoms include fever, cough and restricted breathing.

PROMOTE GOOD HYGIENE

Hygiene has also been at the top of the list for Turner Construction. All jobsites are required to provide access to handwashing stations. Additionally, staff has been trained to religiously clean and disinfect frequently touched objects such as lunch tables, coffee machines and door knobs.

Harkins has instituted a long list of jobsite protocols to help improve awareness. For example, CDC and OSHA guidelines are now posted in all conspicuous locations on jobsites. Furthermore, jobsite leaders are trained to closely monitor employee behavior to ensure that the guidelines are being followed.

Harkins has also taken steps to step up jobsite cleaning. Trailers are now cleaned daily. Furthermore, a commercial cleaning service is brought in to clean and disinfect certain areas of a jobsite if COVID-19 exposure is suspected to have taken place. Harkins has also increased the volume of hand sanitizing products deployed to jobsites.

ESTABLISH DEDICATED TEAMS — AND EMPOWER THEM

Skanska has established a Coordination Response Team in each market it serves. Teams are tasked with monitoring COVID-19 developments, sharing information with employees and business partners, and implementing protocols.

Turner Construction has also established a dedicated COVID-19 Action Team. Efforts to support employees are an essential part of this team’s focus. Support is a key element that can get overshadowed in the midst of everything that is going on. This crisis has been taking a tremendous toll on many. Employers can play a constructive role in helping people cope.

On that note, Turner’s COVID-19 Action Team has gathered information to help employees guard against coronavirus-related scams, which are unfortunately emerging on a regular basis. The company has established a “fraud alert page” where employees can receive up-to-date information.

MAINTAIN OPEN, HONEST COMMUNICATION

Skanska is utilizing its internal company website (intranet) to provide general updates on COVID-19. The intranet is also being used to reinforce guidelines and standard operating procedures. This same information is also available through the company’s mobile app.

As reported by the Cincinnati Business Courier, telling employees to stay home when they are not feeling well is a critical piece to maintaining a safe, functioning jobsite. To reinforce the importance of this policy, HGC Groups, a large regional general contractor based in Cincinnati, has temporarily stopped recording unscheduled absences. In other words, an employee who thinks they may have COVID-19 symptoms will not be penalized for calling in sick to work.

LIFE HAS CHANGED, BUT STILL GOES ON

In Orlando, Fla., work on a $2.15 billion airport project continues amidst the COVID-19 crisis. As reported by the Orlando Business Journal, several guidelines have been put into place so work can continue:

  • Employees showing signs of illness are sent home
  • Additional handwashing stations have been made available
  • More frequent cleaning of high touch point areas like stairwells
  • Administrative staffs are evaluated for possible shift adjustments to limit personal interaction

The economic toll of COVID-19 has already set in. That said, some financial analysts expect that industries like manufacturing and construction will be among the last to begin issuing layoffs. That is due to the significant shortage of skilled workers these industries have been experiencing.

Rather, construction firms are expected to take proactive measures to help protect their workers and ongoing projects. The best practices outlined in this article showcase what leading construction firms are already doing in this regard.

LOBBY FOR RELIEF … AND LEAD BY EXAMPLE

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) says it has been lobbying for the construction industry to be deemed “essential” as government officials issue new mandates for certain business closures. AGC has also expressed support for a $2 trillion relief package that, as of March 23, the U.S. Senate had failed to pass on numerous occasions.

In addition, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), show owner and producer of CONEXPO-CON/AGG, says it is working closely with federal, state and local officials to make sure they take immediate steps to contain the spread of COVID-19, support equipment manufacturers and their employees, maintain vital supply chains and ensure the country’s economic resilience. AEM sent a letter to the President requesting that the federal government designate equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and dealers as “essential” and providing state and local jurisdictions with a clear and consistent federal directive moving forward.

AEM continues to urge Congress and the President to take action on the following policies that would support the construction industry:

It is important for construction companies to help bring this message to state and federal leaders. The sooner Congress comes together to pass relief, the sooner financial markets can be stabilized.

While businesses and citizens wait for our nation’s leaders to put their partisan bickering aside and come together in the face of this unprecedented national crisis, the construction industry is showing that it is possible to put the nation’s interests ahead your own.

The CEO of 3M recently told CNBC that he was disappointed that N95 respirator masks are still on store shelves while hospitals face a shortage. To be fair, that could simply be the result of inventory that already existed in the pipeline. Regardless, it is up to retailers to decide if it is in the nation’s best interest to redirect that inventory to local health care facilities.

Some construction companies have already determined that it is in the nation’s best interest.

An ABC television affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, recently reported that area construction companies have answered Vice President Mike Pence’s call to redirect respirator masks to hospitals. More construction companies around the country can follow suit by simply reaching out to their local hospitals and health care facilities.

That is leadership by example, and the construction industry does it as well as anybody.

By adopting the COVID-19 prevention protocols outlined in this article, construction companies can continue leading by example — all while helping to “flatten the curve” and help the nation emerge from this crisis.

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