Safety Partnership Opens Lines of Communication on Yadkin River Bridge Project
In August 2011, joint venture partners Flatiron Construction and Lane Construction signed an official agreement with the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division to share information and better prevent workers from getting injured on the Yadkin River Bridge project.
“Each partnership is about trying to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities, so everyone benefits,” said Wanda Lagoe, N.C. Department of Labor bureau chief. “From OSH’s standpoint, our employees learn best practices in the construction industry while also getting sharper at identifying hazards on a construction site.”
The project involves reconstructing a deteriorating, 55-year-old segment of Interstate 85 over the Yadkin River near Salisbury, N.C.
“This partnership is an opportunity for us to learn from OSH in an open environment and to gauge ourselves against others in the industry,” said Flatiron project manager Adam Mathews.
Flatiron participated in similar partnerships on the I-35W Bridge project in Minnesota and the Audubon Bridge job in Louisiana.
From a safety perspective, this project has all the potential hazards of big construction: a trestle; heavy duel-crane picks; working at height, over water and over several railroads; and a demanding schedule with multiple operations all happening in confined areas.
“This is a big project for the state of North Carolina. They don’t see big, fast-paced construction like this very often, so they were keen to see how we do it and do it safely,” Adam said.
As part of the partnership, OSH conducts quarterly walk-throughs of the jobsite, and Flatiron-Lane makes sure to invite them to visit during construction milestones.
“Partnerships are also a training ground for OSH,” Wanda said. “We want to be informed of any unusual tasks or best practices that are being conducted on site, so that our personnel can watch and learn.”
The partnership also helps familiarize Flatiron employees with OSH’s role in the construction process.
“Getting to know OSH’s standards and requirements helps strengthen the technical background of our personnel out in the field,” said Heavy Civil Division safety manager Nick Kakasenko.
The Yadkin job is approximately 65 percent complete, with a portion of the I-85 northbound lanes opened to traffic in March. The project is scheduled for substantial completion in January of 2013.