Workers Are The Experts

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Summary Statement

See new tools and practices developed by construction workers to improve safety and health on jobsites and hear the workers talk about the project and benefits in this 6-min. video. Features a safe bridge construction project, a vacuum system to reduce silica exposures to masonry workers, a crane mirror system, and ergonomic improvements on Boston's Big Dig. Produced by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. The video can be viewed on CPWR's YouTube page via the link listed in the acquisition information below, and/or a DVD can be purchased at not cost at http://www.cpwr.com/publications/health-and-safety-videos. Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.
2000

6 minutes
CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training
Workers Are The Experts
Audio Video
Narrator: Construction workers are the industry’s most valuable resource. And today they are improving both safety and health on the job. Construction workers performing various tasks on bridges.
George Weymouth: We needed dust control in the school that we were working on in the summer time and there were students in there for summer school. Naturally, they shut us down. Too much dust. It was getting into their air conditioning system and we had to come up with something very quickly and we brought in some vacs [vacuums] and we utilized them to control the dust and we’ve been improving on it ever since. “George Weymouth, Operations Manager, RPM Inc., BAC Local 3” words imposed. George Weymouth being interviewed.
Narrator: George Weymouth developed a low cost solution to a long standing serious health problem in construction. He’s helping to find a way to protect workers from hazards like silica dust. Video of masonry saw with a dust control system compared to a masonry saw without controls.
George Weymouth: John Q public doesn’t know how hazardous it is. If I were to tell you that a couple of guys can generate 60 and 70 pounds of dust that would normally go into the air a day, that’s a lot of dust. George Weymouth being interviewed.
George Weymouth: There are all sorts of vacuum dust collection systems out there, but you show me one that will operate 30 stories in the air. Our system is a hard type system that mounts to a back rail. From there, it goes into a canister that’s nowhere near our working zone. The only thing we have in our hands is a saw. We don’t have to worry about some machine to stumble over. Different components of George Weymouth’s vacuum system are displayed.
Narrator: Other workers are developing safety and health solutions for construction too. And that points to something that we’ve all known for a long time. Workers are the real experts on safety and health. Worker positioning rebar.
Workers performing carpentry tasks.
Narrator: To solve another problem, crane operator Butch Bradley improved a mirror system he saw use 35 years of head back and strain his neck.
Butch Bradley: Before I incorporated the mirror for looking up the boom, your neck was constantly back and you were looking up through the top window constantly for the whole 8 hour day maybe, depending on who you were working with. And after a while, it just gives you tremendous headaches from pinching the nerves in the back of your neck. It’s very portable, it’s pretty simplistic, but it’s good I’m glad if it helps some other people out. I know some crane operators in our yard have now started incorporating it into their cranes and they are finding it works quite well. My feeling has always been this: if the crane operator is not comfortable, how can anyone else be comfortable? You have to be comfortable in what you are doing. You have to know everything is working properly. That all the sight lines are clear. It makes it for a safer job.
“Butch Bradley, Crane Operator, IUOE Local 4” words imposed.
Butch Bradley being interviewed sitting in a crane.
Narrator: Construction workers George West and James Gaine are looking at ways to reduce sprains and strains on Boston’s big dig, with input from researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. View of construction site.
George West: In some cases, when we started the study I was skeptical about being an outside project, a heavy construction project, whether you could implement some of the things that we talked about. Some of the things were simple and easy to implement like balancing a workers tool belt and making sure his supplies and equipment were in an easily accessible spot to him. One thing specifically that we looked at during the study was stacking the forms and we were able to decide that it was a good thing if people could stack the forms in a staggered situation so that it was less dangerous for the people to climb on top when you went to hook a form up to fly in a hole. “George West, Carpentry General Foreman, UBC Local 108” words imposed.
George West being interviewed.
Worker with a tool belt performing carpentry tasks.
Crane lowering sheets of plywood.
James Gaine: We’ve changed attitudes with the laborers and the other trades people here. We know what’s available for us to work safely. We’re always looking for innovative ways to make this job easier and less strainful on our bodies and make it also more productive for the contractor. “James Gaine, Laborer Steward, LIUNA Local 223” words imposed.
James Gaine being interviewed.
Cranes being used in bridge construction.
Narrator: Through their unions, workers are pressing for contracts that improve safety and health. In Michigan, the state Building and Construction Trades Council work with the state Department of Transportation and The Center to Protect Worker’s Rights to get a full time safety officer during construction of the new Blue Water Bridge. The $80 million span linking Port Huron, Michigan to Point Edward Sarnia in Ontario, Canada was built in four years. More than three times as fast as such projects usually take and with no serious injury. Three construction workers talking together. Picture of the Blue Water Bridge during construction.
Construction worker using a mallet.
Construction worker operating a pulley system.
Construction worker tightening bolts.
Worker being hoisted in a cage.
Construction workers working on bridge.
Construction workers positioning rebar.
Narrator: The safe job saved almost $3 million in insurance costs alone. The key is to find what works, so safety improvements can be applied by millions of workers nationwide to cut the high rate of work related injuries and illnesses in construction. Construction workers using a sledge hammer.
Construction worker tightening bolts using air tool.
Crane lowering supplies.
Construction worker in harness walking.
George Weymouth: We did it for just a safer environment. No one is here to make any money off it. You know, if it works, it works fine. The company will benefit because it works fine. But as far as monetary things, it’s a bunch of guys getting together and coming up with a solution. Simple as that. “George Weymouth” words imposed.
George Weymouth being interviewed.
Narrator: We know safer work makes construction more competitive. The money employers save can be used for wages and benefits. Everyone gains. Construction worker guiding a metal bridge section being lowered by a crane.
Construction workers working on top of concrete column.
George West: Everybody has a consciousness of what we expect to get done for work, but also that we expect the guy to go home every night. “George West” words imposed.
George West being interviewed.
Narrator: Best ideas in place. Prevent injuries. Protect health and improve lives. Worker welding.
Bulldozer driving through snow.
Workers pouring concrete.
Workers going home for the day.