Tag Archive for 'safety'

How Technology is Advancing one of the Most Dangerous Jobs in America

By Stokes McIntyre, President of MindForge

Construction was recently listed in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America by CNBC. So when it comes to day-to-day operations, what can construction managers do to ensure workers receive the information they need to produce quality work and stay safe on the job? One company, MindForge, is doing just that. Its platform is designed to unite construction organizations, simplify workforce communication and maximize performance quality with tools that keep job sites safe, efficient, and connected. By studying behavioral, motivational and systematic issues related to serious injuries and fatalities on construction jobs, MindForge has developed a mobile-based communication platform that supports safety, quality, and productivity. Its browser-based technology platform communicates with desktop, web, and mobile devices in order to bridge the disconnect between the home office and front-line workforce, equipping workers with the knowledge, skills, and information that empower them to avoid hazards and do great work.

Engaging Training

In order to take command of construction projects and reach the next level in safety and quality, it’s critical to engage the front-line workforce. Firms must deploy engaging training that makes a lasting impact and deliver information in ways that workers will respond positively to. MindForge provides a framework, inspired by the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), that workers can apply when facing an unusual situation or uncommon issues. MindForge specifically targets relevant hazards a worker will encounter while they perform tasks on a job.

Firms should also consider the importance of timing. If you learn something that you can’t put into practice right away, it may be difficult to recall that information when you finally need to use it. MindForge places training within the context of the job site, which helps the material come alive and allows workers to see the direct application of that material. The digital platform also allows for “just-in-time” content, delivered either close to when the workers will perform related tasks or as a refresher right after a worker has experienced the task.

In order to deliver the most value to construction professionals, MindForge has created training modules that are succinct and specific. Breaking training down into smaller pieces makes it easier for workers and teams to select courses that apply to their work each day. With short, direct lessons, you give workers the opportunity to digest information quickly so that important material isn’t lost within hours of training that is delivered all at once.

Immersive Experiences

One of the best tactics to ensure your training is effective is to make it as experiential as possible. You should place workers in controlled situations they might eventually face, doing the tasks expected of them while facing potential job hazards they could see on the job. Using specific job site videos or 3-D simulations can help you create these immersive experiences without putting anyone in danger. For example, the MindForge platform offers a 3-D simulation of a scissor lift safety “hazard hunt” which tests the workers by having them identify all of the potential hazards on a job site, such as tilt, unsafe conditions and proximity to power lines, and how to mitigate those risks. Rather than using a slideshow, MindForge trains using immersive experiences, like having the workforce identify the proper fire extinguisher based on the type of simulated fire. This technique allows workers to actively engage while learning necessary techniques like P.A.S.S. (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep).

Moreover, offering a variety of training styles gives workers the opportunity to learn however they learn best. Similarly, offering the same material in different ways can make repeated instruction more interesting and help the material reach trainees in new ways each time. Our material is offered in the form of relevant stories that resonate: practical, real-life scenarios. For example, the Construction LifeSaver (CLS) is MindForge’s series of digital training, delivered via the CLS desktop or mobile application. CLS courses focus on interactive, hazard-based training that highlights the tasks, exposures, and scenarios workers encounter in their day-to-day jobs on a construction site.

Key Communication

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the MindForge platform is the establishment of a solid line of communication to the front line that allows project leaders to efficiently send timely information and training to the workforce. The comprehensive communication hub simplifies the communication process and allows for consistent messaging and expectations for everyone involved in the project. The fact is when it comes to safety and quality, everyone needs to be on the same page from top to bottom.

Further, investing in tools to help support safety initiatives shows that a business cares about its workers, enforcing a stronger safety culture within the company. This can improve your recruiting ability, as well as your bottom line.

MindForge facilitates the management of this highly fluid workforce, and is designed to integrate the entire organization from the home office to the front line by capturing and storing records for orientation, training, certifications, equipment inspections, toolbox talks and more, indefinitely. One function of the platform allows you to quickly deploy important announcements, messages and alerts to the entire workforce with the push of a button while another function manages employee profiles and teams. Quality, speed, and safety all increase when workers get to do the things they are confident in doing. Having a system to track workers’ skills and preferred tasks goes a long way in making sure everyone is operating at their highest level. It can be difficult to engage construction workers due to localized environments with constant deadlines. Content that is engaging, relevant and enjoyable helps make construction projects more efficient, profitable and ultimately safe.

MindForge offers a new and safer way to work. The holistic communication and training hub helps protect a company’s bottom line through various efficiencies and improvements across quality, culture and time and ultimately, saves lives. As we look ahead, we recognize the potential of technology to significantly decrease the rate of serious injuries and fatalities within the industry while making construction projects more efficient and profitable, benefiting the industry as a whole.

This material appeared in the June 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Be Safe — On-the-Job Safety is More Important Than Ever

By Andrew Wilson

As construction workers, we have essential jobs that help keep businesses running and homes safe enough to live in for people. As we get up and ready for work every day, we’re taking risks, and due to that we should be very careful and take as many safety precautions as we can. With that in mind, here are a few tips that construction workers should follow in order to stay safe when doing their job. 

Follow Social Distancing Rules as Much as You Can

Social distancing is one of the key ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While it’s understandable that some construction workers may have an easier time doing this than others, it’s important to be doing as much as we can. One way that employers can help with this in industries where social distancing is difficult like drywall or painting is simply reducing the number of employees at each job. As a home improvement contractor, who runs ContractorAdvisorly.com, what I’ve been doing is reducing the number of employees at job sites by at least 25% even if that means the job takes longer than usual. 

Job site safety is critical. Always be aware of others in your immediate vicinity.

Research COVID-19 Symptoms 

It’s important to stay informed of the symptoms that COVID-19 causes. This can help you decide when you’re showing symptoms and need to stay home, or when you notice that somebody else close to you is showing symptoms. Staying up to date with the latest news and best practices can help you figure out if you’re being as safe as you can at your job. The CDC has a great resource here to stay up to date and learn more about the virus. 

Wear Safety Equipment 

Due to the dangerous environments that some of us work in, safety equipment is something that some of us already use. However, this sometimes leads us to forget just how important it really is and take it for granted sometimes. Remember that apart from wearing gloves and masks to keep us safe during the pandemic, we shouldn’t forget the equipment like safety glasses and vests that keeps us safe while doing our jobs. Which then leads us to our next point. 

Some situations are more hazardous than others. Take every precaution possible to be safe.

Remember the Basics

Sometimes when trying to follow new rules, it’s easy to forget the old rules that have always been there. You should remember to continue doing the same thing you should have been doing before this whole thing even got started. This means avoiding touching your eyes or mouth when you haven’t washed your hands, especially those of us who work in environments with a lot of dust around. Always covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. Washing your hands with soap often.  

Avoid Sharing Tools 

Every worker should have their own set of tools that only they use. While this isn’t always possible, then you should at least be wiping down the tools with alcohol wipes after each use. COVID-19 is easily transmittable, hence you should be careful with who you are sharing the tools with and be on the lookout for symptoms to keep you and your coworkers safe.  

One other thing that should be noted is that workers with medical conditions should be taking even more precautions and be making serious considerations about their current work status. As the CDC has explained, people with previous medical conditions are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. While this pandemic is going on, we must be on full alert and continue taking safety precautions in order to keep ourselves and our families safe. I hope these tips help you stay safe while doing your job. 

Andrew Wilson has been working as a home improvement contractor in the Chicago area for over 5+ years. He has experience doing kitchen, bathroom, and home remodeling and all types of home repairs. 

You can reach out to him or learn more about him on his blog ContractorAdvisorly.com

This material appeared in the June 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Vacuworx Offers Faster, Safer Way to Handle Precast, prestressed Concrete

When an industry leading precast company wanted a faster, safer way to handle precast, prestressed double tee beams, Vacuworx provided a smart solution. The new CC-TT Computer Controlled Double Tee Vacuum Lifting System offers an alternative to using anchors and chains, and eliminates the need for personnel to climb on stacks or ladders to set dunnage.

Vacuum lifting technology has been a preferred method of material handling in the pipeline and construction industries for over 20 years. The new CC-TT is one of the largest systems engineered by the company, boasting a lift capacity of 77,000 lb (35 tonne)!

Based on the time-proven design of the company’s popular RC Series, the CC-TT is designed with a multi-function computer operated remote control system with touch screen which provides real-time operation and diagnostic information including vacuum pressure (reservoir and pads), fuel level, battery status and more. Closed circuit cameras allow unobstructed views to enable precise pad placement. Variable pad positions ensure even lifting and avoidance of key stress points.

The CC-TT system is powered by a diesel engine and is designed to work with mobile or stationary gantry cranes. Pads are specially engineered to accommodate the weight and size of double tee beams. Each pad is equipped with a sensor to confirm that the load is engaged. The system can also be modified to handle other precast structures or steel.

About Vacuworx

Vacuworx is celebrating “20 Years of Building an Industry.” Founded in 1999 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the company engineers and manufactures innovative heavy-duty material handling equipment for the oil and gas, water and sewer, highway and heavy construction, concrete construction, landscaping and manufacturing industries worldwide. Parts, service and technical support are available 24/7/365 for installation, training, repairs and troubleshooting.

VOLVO CE Dealer Cowin Equipment Company Weighs in on Short-Term Outlook: ‘We’re Coming Back’

“All things considered, we’re confident we’re coming back out of it.”

The way Matt McGowan sees it, there’s really no overstating the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on Cowin Equipment Company over the course of the past few months. No aspect of the organization went unaffected, forcing the Volvo CE dealer and Birmingham, Alabama-based company, which specializes in the distribution of heavy equipment for a variety of industries, to respond quickly and decisively.

But now, as summer gets under way and the United States continues to open up, McGowan – the company’s vice president of sales and marketing – can’t help but feel optimistic about what the future holds for equipment dealers, equipment manufacturers and the customers they serve.

“We definitely went through a slowdown period, but now we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “It’s almost, at least activity-level-wise, back to where it once was. I’m not saying we’re quite there yet, but things have really picked up.”

For more information and resources on COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 section on the AEM website


The consensus opinion regarding the effects of COVID-19-related lockdowns on Cowin’s operations: It could have been worse. According to McGowan, the company enjoyed a very strong January and February. Then, despite a significant drop-off in March, the company was still able to post a record-setting first quarter.

“There were pockets throughout the areas we cover that never slowed down,” he said. “No DOT (Department of Transportation) jobs were ever shut down by government mandate. So, we were really fortunate there, and that allowed us to pull out a pretty decent April.”

The most significant impact occurred when some OEMs that Cowin represents began shutting down in the wake of the pandemic’s emergence in the U.S. causing some temporary delays in parts shipments. And even when parts did arrive, company employees needed to take the necessary steps to disinfect items which took additional time.

“The last thing we wanted was technicians or customers maybe touching contaminated products,” said Stephen Searcy, Cowin’s vice president of product support. “So, we would disinfect on top of what the manufacturers were doing. It’s improved dramatically now, and people were understanding about it at the time. But it was still a big challenge for us, because our customers were still working.”


At no point has a Cowin store closed during the pandemic. With that being the case, said Searcy, there were times when it felt like the best course of action was to balance a “business as usual” approach to day-to-day operations while trying to react accordingly to what was happening across the country and around the world.

“Information was changing 24 hours a day,” he said. “I think back to our first memo, and it was dated the 28th of February. It basically said, ‘Here’s what’s going on and what we’re seeing developing. We’re not sure how this is going to affect us. But immediately we need to put these safeguards in place.’”

Whether it’s been encouraging the increased use of hand sanitizers and PPE, disinfecting shipments of parts, or rethinking how interactions occur with customers, Cowin leaders and their employees have quickly adopted measures to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being is the foremost priority. In addition, internal team communications have been sent several times per week in an effort to keep employees aware of developing news and how it impacts impact operations.

“It’s about how things affect employees personally, but also how it affects the company as a whole – and how we want everyone to do their jobs,” said Searcy. “Even now, we have reminders going out saying, ‘We want to stay on top of this.’ Because we want to maintain what we started months ago. We continue to reinforce things with our team, make them a part of what’s going on, and not leave them in the dark.”

Reinforcing new behaviors is a critically important task for Cowin leaders in these uncertain times. For example, there was initial worry on the part of some company salespeople regarding customer touchpoints. However, by promoting regular phone contact encouraging “tailgate lunches” – where takeout food is ordered and social distancing occurs – those concerns have largely been allayed for now.

“Customers have been great,” said McGowan. “They work with us, understand us, and recognize things are different than they were before.”


While it’s difficult to project what exactly the future holds for Cowin, its customers and its employees, guarded optimism appears to be the sentiment that rules the day for both the company’s parts business and its service business.

“From an inventory standpoint on the machine side, we were well stocked before the pandemic and orders placed before the pandemic only saw minimal delays,” said McGowan. “But during remote work, having parts in stock at the OEM level is great, however, when staffing levels were down to fulfill orders, that posed some challenges. Then, of course, machine availability for orders placed after the pandemic began could see more extended delays.”

As a result, he continued, company officials are trying to determine how quickly OEMs that had 2-6-week shutdowns can get up, running and – most importantly – back on track.

“I think it all depends on how fast they can get components from third-party vendors,” he said. “In reality though, we’re anticipating some new machine orders placed after the pandemic could be coming toward the end of the year.”

On the product support side, customers are anxious and want to work. However, some construction jobs that were anticipated just a few short months ago may be delayed indefinitely.

“People are a little bit tighter with their funds than what they were a couple of months ago, so it might take a few months, or even a year, for them to get back to the business level that they had before,” said Searcy.

“That being said, we’re seeing some signs that are positive. I just hope that continues to grow in the weeks and months to come,” he added.

To learn more about AEM’s efforts to support the equipment manufacturing industry, visit the COVID-19 section on the AEM website. If you have questions or need to get a hold of AEM staff, please e-mail our Response Team at responseteam@aem.org.

Subscribe to our AEM newslettersfor more AEM news and updates.

June is “Safety Awareness” month and Caterpillar is hosting a series of three webinars – “BEYOND SAFETY BASICS.”


Webinar #1:  The Psychology of Safety:  Understanding Employee Behavior in Uncertain Times:  Learning the psychology of safety will help you understand the drivers of differing employee behavior. Especially during uncertain times, people behave differently based on a variety of factors, including what is important to them. Our experts help you understand these drivers and make a connection between people, culture and performance.  Presenter:  Jenny Krasny, Operational Risk Consultant, Caterpillar Safety Services

Available NOW https://youtu.be/YMg24qhmoAY               https://www.facebook.com/caterpillarinc/posts/10156882740245764

Webinar #2: Communication Strategy: Supporting Safety Through Words and Deeds:  Leaders, either by title or influence, constantly send messages that shape others’ attitudes and drive their behaviors. Intentionally or unintentionally, every communication and action from a leader tells a story about what’s important to him/her. Learn how you can build a strong communication strategy, especially during uncertain times, to demonstrate your commitment to safety and drive safe behavior throughout the entire organization.  Presenter:  Abby Fansler, MS, Communication Consultant, Caterpillar Safety Services

Available @ 12:00 noon CST, Tuesday, June 23: https://youtu.be/nIPTD2VhBn0   OR   facebook.com/caterpillarinc

#3 Live Webinar: Demonstrating Commitment: Taking Safety from the Office to the Frontline:  Leaders have a wide scope of influence and accountability, so it is critical that they demonstrate commitment to safety through both words and actions, just as they do for production. It starts with leading by example, but true leadership goes beyond wearing proper PPE and ensuring others do the same. Learn tips to create and sustain a culture of positive safety performance through leadership, communication, training and recognition.  Presenter:  Justin Ganschow, CHMM, CSP, Business Development Manager, Caterpillar Safety Services

Available @ 12:00 noon CST, June 30: https://youtu.be/h2z3tX82s8Y   OR   facebook.com/caterpillarinc