Construction Myth Busting #13

const guy s m 13This is the end of the myths of construction safety discussion. Thank you to those who have joined me to let me know your thoughts on Ron Prichard’s Construction Safety Myths – whether it was by email or blog comments, your insight was appreciated

Here is myth number thirteen.

Myth 13: Safety Associations Are Really Interested in Solving the Problem

There is an unacknowledged codependency between the associations that serve safety professionals and the problem of safety. As long as safety results remain stable and within an acceptable range, there is no general outcry for a solution and the need for the safety profession remains. This is not meant as an indictment of the profession for doing what all professions do—advancing the interests of those within the profession. Just open any professional magazine and look at the editorials and member information. It’s quickly apparent whose interests are being promoted, and rightfully so.

 My Thoughts

If I read this myth correctly, the author is saying that if the association would solve the problem, then the safety profession is no longer needed.  That is quite the assumption if you ask me.  So there is some magical cure all that can completely eliminate all risks from a project?  And the safety associations are able to create this cure, but are unwilling to so they can continue to promote themselves?  I think Prichard is starting to reach a little too far for more myths rather than settling with 10 or 11 good ones.

 What are your thoughts?


Oh By The Way… Check out out other Construction Myths:

A New Invention, the Styrofoam Cup

Wouldn’t it be great, if we would be able to buy Styrofoam cups and coolers so our beverages would stay hot or cold longer? I think that would be a great invention! We might think this already exists, but we are actually wrong. While we may refer to a foam cup or cooler as “Styrofoam”, according to Dow, who owns the trademark, Styrofoam is only used in construction materials.

Here is what Dow’s website had to say:

There’s No Such thing as a STYROFOAM™ Cup

STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam is a registered trademark of The Dow Chemical Company and has been a valued asset for more than 60 years.

The STYROFOAM™ Brand name is often misused as a generic term for disposable foam products such as coffee cups, coolers and packaging materials. These materials, however, are made from expanded polystyrene products (also known as EPS or beadboard). STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Foam Insulation has a higher insulation value (“R-value per inch”) than EPS and STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Foam Insulation had a higher moisture-resistance than EPS as shown by ASTM C578 industry specification Type requirements.

There isn’t a coffee cup, cooler or packaging material in the world made from actual STYROFOAM™ Brand Extruded Polystyrene Foam Insulation. STYROFOAM™ is a registered trademark of The Dow Chemical Company that represents its branded building material products, including rigid foam and more.

Oh by the way… Here is a link to Dow’s Website.


Day-To-Day Technology For Business

I have embraced technology in my profession – as long as it solves a problem!  I am not intent on getting the latest and greatest gadget or program. But, I have a few things that make my life easier.

  • IPad: I am able to do most everything I could do with a laptop, on the tablet. I don’t have the hassle when going through TSA when I fly and it is light enough to carry just about everywhere.
  • Evernote App: I am able to access notes, documents, and pictures everywhere I go. From my itinerary, to my presentation, it is all there for me.  I can share specific notes with coworkers and clients, so that they know what is going on.
  • Penultimate App:  This is a great app that works with Evernote.  I use it as a notebook, because I can write faster than I can type. I can also sketch things out.

I use these items on a daily basis. I would be less organized and have to carry a lot more paper with me, if I did not have them.

Oh by the way… What do you find the most useful?notebook pic


Construction Myth Busting #12

If you have read our recent blogs you will remember I am addressing construction safety. If you are just joining us, I came across an article with a very different perspective on construction safety. Ron Prichard, P.E. Ph.D. was debunking myths about construction safety.

Here is myth number twelve.

Myth 12: Construction Is Too Complex and Dynamic

In reality, we know what causes accidents, and we know what needs to be done to effect change. We know how to solve problems. We know how to deal with complexity. We know how to develop controls and systems to deal with dynamic situations. We have access to advanced technology, enhanced information, and increasing knowledge about sociology and group dynamics.

The record also shows that achieving zero accidents is the result of a well-planned and coordinated effort. The problem is that none of these things are easy to implement. It takes a commitment to make change, money to make the changes, and a redistribution of power to those with responsibility to perform the task. The process is not simple (although many of the actions individually are) mainly because it involves removing the power of the prerogative of management.

const guy s m 12My Thoughts

I agree with Ron that this is a myth. Construction is not too complex and dynamic for safety to exist on a project. With some knowledge and common sense, any project can be a safe site for everyone. It just needs everybody to make the extra effort.

What Are Your Thoughts?

The Right Person for the Job

Having the right personnel on a project can be the difference between making and losing money on the job.

I’m currently working on a small remodel at my house in my spare time, and it’s no different.  I know how to do all the work, but have elected to hire a family friend who is semi-retired from the trade, I have done small jobs and can make it look good, but I know it takes me considerably more time.  to mud and tape who is semi-retired from the trade,  I have done small jobs and can make it look good, but I know it takes me considerably more time.  From estimating, I know how long it should take and I’m nowhere near that rate. I’m always amazed how the mud seems to just flow right off this guy’s knife.

Realizing that other companies can perform work more efficiently is also important.  As an estimator, you should know your crafts limitations and not hesitate to obtain subcontractor quotes on items that are not in your trade.

Design VS Installation

shower copyright venus angelI recently stayed at a relatively new hotel and was shocked when I looked at the shower.  I’m over six feet tall, so I’m used to having the shower head at or below my head.  At this hotel, I learned what it must be like to be short!  I actually had to reach up to adjust the head, because it was well over seven feet tall and the pipe was literally 2 inches from the ceiling.

My first thought was to wonder if the plumber was some eight foot giant and his purpose in life was to make every shower he installed as high as possible!  My next thought was how much extra piping did the plumbers have to use compared to what was estimated?  If every single room had shower heads mounted this high, there is a significant amount of pipe used that probably was not included in the estimate!

Just because you estimated a project based on what was shown, and how you think it should be installed, does not mean the craft will install it that way.  This can cause a variance between estimated versus actual costs.

As a side note, this hotel had the shallowest pool I have ever seen in a hotel.  The maximum depth per the markings along the pool was 2’10”.  It’s a great pool for toddlers, so they can touch, but not much use to anyone over the age of 10.

Construction Myth Busting #11

const guy s m 11If you have read our recent blogs you will remember I am addressing construction safety. If you are just joining us, I came across an article with a very different perspective on construction safety. Ron Prichard, P.E. Ph.D. was debunking myths about construction safety.

Here is myth number eleven.

Myth 11: The Solution Lies in Finding Some New Technological “Fix”

No complex problem is ever resolved by the introduction of a new technology, particularly if the underlying social system remains undisturbed. On the other hand, adding a new technology without sufficient consideration of how it fits into the existing system can exacerbate an existing problem rather than solve it. By introducing more complexity without expanding the capacity of the system to manage it, a new technology can overwhelm an existing system, and create social problems among those using it.

 For example, consider falls. Many new technologies exist, including the use of harnesses, shock-absorbing lanyards, retractable connecting cable reels, and a variety of other ingenious fall prevention mechanisms now on the market. Still, falls remain the leading cause of fatalities in construction. [Charles R. Culver and Jim Scott, "OSHA Examines Construction Fatalities," Safety +.]

 My Take

I don’t think it’s so much that the technology won’t work, or will overload the existing system, but rather the end users are resisting the use of the equipment. Hardhats and safety glasses are standard safety equipment on a project, yet people still choose not to wear them. I think it’s more the resistance to change – rather than the technology, as to why new “fixes” don’t always work.

What do you think about solutions through technological fixes?


Where Would You Stand?

I had a conversation recently that I would like to share with you. This individual and I seemed to have been on opposite sides of the fence on all of the following points regarding estimating. I am not asking who is right, or who is wrong! I want to know YOUR thoughts. Whether you agree with one of us, or see somewhere in the middle, let me know.

  • What should an estimator know? Should an estimator be required to know the building or construction codes for the type of project they are estimating? Or should all the information an estimator needs be contained on the plans?
  • What about questions? If the construction documents are vague in some areas, what should an estimator do? Should the estimator take the info at face value and bid it as they see them? Or, is an estimator obligated to ask questions during the bidding process?
  • What if the estimator is working with software? If the estimating software does not correctly takeoff the symbols on the drawings, do they even get included in the bid?
  • Can an estimator expect to get a job with the correct price? Or does the price have to be deliberately low in order to get the work?

Let me know what you think!

Pre-April Fools

Tomorrow is April 1st. Here is a funny video to celebrate.


Construction Myth Busting #10

If you have read our recent blogs, you will remember I am addressing construction safety. If you are just joining us, I came across an article with a very different perspective on construction safety. Ron Prichard, P.E. Ph.D. is debunking myths about construction safety.

Here is myth number ten.

const guy s m 10Myth 10: Disciplinary Programs Are the Key to Enforcement and Results

Getting rid of undesirable behavior does not automatically produce desired behavior. The only credible enforcement mechanism is individual ethics. Disciplinary programs can help promote desired behavior by punishing undesired behavior, but cannot be relied on as the sole remedy.

The same problem that exists with incentives exists for punishments. If the punishment is not administered sufficiently close to the negative behavior, the connection between behavior and punishment is lost and it becomes a de-motivator. The emphasis on this approach often shows up on office walls in the familiar sign, “The floggings will continue until morale improves.” Yet, history has repeatedly demonstrated that no amount of coercion is sufficient to gain more than a temporary modification of behavior.

It is simply not possible for everyone to have a supervisor to ensure that the rules are being implemented constantly. There must be reliance placed on the individual worker to do the right thing. This means that selection, hiring, training, and the compensation programs play as crucial a role in promoting desired behavior as the disciplining of those who commit infractions of the rules. Discipline therefore is simply another part of a coherent, complete system.

My Take-Away

The above information goes well beyond safety and is good information for any type of behavior issues.  I did have to chuckle while reading this, because it reminded me of training my puppy.  I guess people and dogs have a lot in common when it comes to training and enforcing rules.  Maybe managers and supervisors should walk around the office and the field with a squirt bottle in one hand?!  What do you think?


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