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August 17, 2001

Where did the summer go? Time for Labor Day festivities

Summer's heat is still here: So let's be careful out there

Compuware's new HQ starts to rise

Unlucky boaters found a friend in Joe Herro

Rappeller's work helps leaky turret repel the elements

Still waiting for your turn to work? Poor planning vexes construction



Where did the summer go? Time for Labor Day festivities

As much as we hate to acknowledge that Labor Day is just around the corner - the traditional end of summer will be here before we know it.

On Monday, Sept. 3, make plans to attend Labor Day celebrations in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Marquette.

The Detroit parade kicks off at 9:30 a.m., with the building trades lining up as usual along Trumbull, south of Michigan Ave. Celebrating their centennial year, members of Iron Workers Local 25 will lead the march.

The march will proceed east along Michigan Ave. to Griswold. The theme of the parade is "We built this city, Detroit 1701-2001."

An American Red Cross "all-trades" blood drive will be held beginning at 10 a.m. on Labor Day at the IBEW Local 58 hall, 1358 Abbott St.

In Grand Rapids, parade-goers will gather at John Ball Park, where buses will take participants to the start of the parade at Winter and Fulton streets. The parade starts at 10 a.m. After the parade at 12:30 p.m., a picnic with rides and entertainment will take place at John Ball Park.

In Marquette, the 2001 Labor Day Festival will start with an 11 a.m. parade along Third Street, followed by a picnic and other activities at Mattson Lower Harbor Park. The event, which usually attracts 2,500, is sponsored by the Marquette County Labor Council.

In Muskegon, the 2001 West Michigan United Labor Day Parade will operate under the theme, "Solidarity for working families." The staging area is at Pere Marquette Park, and participants are asked to arrive between 9-10:30 a.m. A picnic will follow the parade at the park.

The celebration of Labor Day, in honor of the nation's working class, was first suggested by Peter J. McGuire, founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. The first observance of Labor Day began in 1894. Conceived by America's labor unions as a testament to their cause, the legislation sanctioning the holiday was shepherded through Congress amid labor unrest and signed by President Grover Cleveland as a reluctant election-year compromise.


Summer's heat is still here: So let's be careful out there

By Michael C. McReynolds
Injury Prevention Educator
U-M Trauma Burn Center

Heat stroke doesn't just strike football players, but the recent death of Minnesota Vikings Pro-Bowler Korey Stringer, calls national attention to an age-old problem: heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Construction workers are extremely susceptible to heat stroke. They work in an unpredictable environment that is prone to the extremes. Regardless of the environment the job needs to get done.

During the "dog days" of summer, temperatures can climb into the 90s and above, and the humidity can be high. When this happens the human body responds in compensatory ways.

As long as we can sweat and dissipate the heat, we can continue to cool ourselves efficiently. This is the bodies' normal mechanism to cool itself. As air comes in contact with moisture on the body, a cooling process results. During heavy exertion, we can lose one to three liters of water per hour through perspiration.

By the time we feel thirsty dehydration is already present. Symptoms of dehydration include weakness, headache, muscle cramps and nausea. If you are in this type of environment for too long this condition will progress to heat stroke.

During heat stroke the body experiences a disturbance of the sweating mechanism that can result in the loss of the ability to sweat. The heat is internalized, and can increase the body's internal temperatures beyond 104 degrees. Korey Stringer's internal temperature reached 108 degrees.

The symptoms of heat stroke may be the same as heat exhaustion but also include confusion, hallucinations, seizures and coma. If untreated, heat stroke is often fatal, because prolonged temperatures can cause brain damage, shock, or organ failure.

Injury Prevention:

  • Rest often, and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
  • Wear light-colored, non-restrictive clothing.
  • Increase fluid intake substantially. Drink non-alcoholic, and caffeine-free beverages such as water and juice.

If heat exhaustion or stroke is present or suspected:

  • Call for help immediately (911) this is a life-threatening situation.
  • Start a cooling process including fanning, ice packs, provide shade.
  • Use cold compresses-especially to the head and neck area, armpits and groin.


Compuware's new HQ starts to rise

By Marty Mulcahy

The $350 million Compuware Headquarters building, which will reshape the heart of Detroit, is shaping up nicely, thanks to the work of the building trades and general contractor Walbridge-Aldinger.

"We're right on schedule, and down the road we expect to be ahead of schedule," said Walbridge Group Vice President E.G. Clawson. "We're very happy with the progress; the tradespeople out here have been terrific."

On July 16, the structure's first structural steel was set into place, and the trades wasted no time putting up more in the days immediately afterward. All told, Bristol Steel workers will install 8,700 tons of iron in the 15-story building, with the goal of putting up one floor a week

"We're extraordinarily pleased to reach this milestone," said Denise Knobblock, Compuware's executive vice president, human resources and administration. "This steel is a visible sign of our commitment to creating a wonderful facility for our employees, customers and the community in downtown Detroit."

The Compuware headquarters building will stand atop the old Kern Block, just south of the old Hudson's building, whose vacated area is becoming the Premier parking deck. The headquarters building, which includes 2,300 spaces, will be 15 stories tall and roughly one million square feet, nearly 60,000 of which will be retail. The new headquarters building will consolidate the operations of nine existing Compuware facilities in metropolitan Detroit,

The building's front entrance will be at the corner of Woodward and Monroe streets, the site of numerous generations of buildings in Detroit and the epicenter of the Campus Martius Project. Those generations have also left numerous foundations, and many of those along the perimeter of the new skyscraper will be kept, mainly for earth retention.

Clawson said about 220 of the building's 350 caissons are complete, and one of the headaches of the project so far has been trying to bore through some of the buried foundations. Surprisingly, iron scrap from the construction of the People Mover is giving the drills the most difficulty. The rear of the Compuware building will be "gingerly" built to enclose part of the existing People Mover track, Clawson said.

Little of interest has been dug up during the excavation process, Clawson said, with the exception of a previously unknown water main that was broken and repaired.

About 200 construction workers are currently on the project, said Walbridge Project Manager Dean Reader. "The most difficult thing we're dealing with here is the tight space," he said. "You're looking at our layout area - there isn't any. So we're off-loading the steel a lot during the night shift, so we don't interfere with traffic and so we can use the cranes to put it up during the day."

More than 3,000 Compuware employees will begin occupying the building in 2002, with the remaining employees arriving in 2003.

FOOTINGS FOR a ramp on the ground floor of the Compuware site are set by laborers Glen Stagheit of Local 334 and Jeff Deller of Local 1076. They were working for Colasanti. Operating the pump is Alan Kirchoff of Operating Engineers Local 324.

A COLUMN AT the Compuware site is set by Bret Shannon Jr., Kevin Oliver and Todd Masters of Iron Workers Local 25.



Unlucky boaters found a friend in Joe Herro

By Marty Mulcahy

Joe Herro had a busy month in July, and it wasn't because the iron worker had a lot of work at his craft.

Herro, who lives on Big Bay De Noc in the Upper Peninsula, was directly responsible for rescuing six stranded boaters in two separate incidents last month, and was cited last week by the Delta County Sheriff's Department for his good work.

Four boaters he plucked from the water after their boat burned, and two other boaters ran aground in the middle of the night, with their craft taking on water. They were also rescued.

"In both cases, they were in a real pinch, and they needed help," said Herro, a former commercial fisherman. "You would have done the same thing if you could; anyone would have helped them. It was no big thing. But twice in one month; I was beginning to wonder if someone put 911 at the beginning of my phone number."

Actually, the 44-year-old member of Iron Workers Local 8 heard about the first incident in the wee hours of July 1 over his marine radio. He had a case of indigestion about 3 a.m., so he was wide awake when he heard a distress call with a strong signal from a boater who had run aground.

With help from the Coast Guard hours away, he called the stricken boat and asked them their location. He was told that the boaters could see the Summer Island light, which is near Herro's property. Herro, who knows the waters well, said he knew exactly which reef had snagged the boaters, and he also knew that he was going to need a big boat - especially with the 4-5 foot waves and whitecaps that were starting to whip up on the bay.

So he woke up two commercial fishermen friends, brothers Ben and Joe Peterson, and they found a stranded couple on a sailboat whose keel had indeed been snagged by a reef. It seems the sailboat had been anchored, but the anchors failed to catch anything on the bottom of the bay. The sailboat was taking on water through a gash in the hull, but the Proud Maid fishing boat was able to pull it off the reef and into a safe anchorage.

"That was a good challenge, especially with those whitecaps," Herro said.

At the time of the other incident on July 24, the bay was quiet and clear and the weather was warm. Herro's six-year-old daughter Victoria was playing on the beach near their property when she pointed out some smoke on the water to her dad. Herro went up a hill to get a better look, and sure enough, a boat was on fire about a mile and a half out.

Not expecting to use his 14-foot Sea Nymph docked nearby, Herro had to first mix fuel for the boat before going out to the rescue. By the time he got to the stricken 21-foot tri-hull boat, it had burned to the waterline, and the four occupants, two men and two women, were bobbing about on their floatation devices.

"The real challenge here was getting them all onto my little dock boat," Herro said. "It has a little 25-horse outboard on the back, so I had them use it as a step, and as they got on, I placed them in the front to even out the weight. It worked out."

The cause of the fire was undetermined. None of the four occupants was injured. For their efforts, local TV 6 did a report on Joe, playing on the word "hero" and the extra "r" in Joe's last name.

Joe was given a letter of commendation by the Delta County Sheriff's Department last week for his efforts. "Without being asked he took it upon himself to help those people, and I think he did a great job and deserved to be recognized," said Deputy Duane Couillard. "Joe and the Petersons did a great job."

Joe said he and the Peterson brothers were also thanked for their efforts by the boaters they saved, but Joe got a little extra something from the people whose boat burned.

"They came by later with a 30-pack of Busch beer," he said. Geez, Busch? "Ah, what the hell, no complaining," Joe said with a laugh.



Rappeller's work helps leaky turret repel the elements

When it came to repairing the leaky turret atop the 22-story Detroit Towers condominium complex, gaining access was the key to the project.

Scaffolding was impossible. A suspended basket proved to be out of the question.

But a worker with a harness and a lifeline fastened above could gain full access to rappel on the copper-clad turret, and complete the job relatively easily. That worker turned out to be Steve Smith, a project manager of Milbrand Roofing Co.'s Building Restoration Division, who did a job the building's owner couldn't find anyone else to do.

The wind had blown off two pieces of the turret's copper cladding, and a good deal of caulking was needed. The Milbrand shop fabricated the copper panels, and Smith did the installation with a roof-top assist from his brother, Mike, a Milbrand superintendent.

"I had the easy job, I handed him the tools," said Mike. Before they started the work, Mike said the brothers scoped out the inside of the turret, "which was basically a bunch of railroad ties made into the shape of a cone, which were banded together. We looked very carefully for a secure place to tie off, and we found it was pretty solid."

Steve concurred. "I've been doing this stuff for 27 years, and you don't last that long without being very confident in where you're tying off," he said.

Built in 1922, the posh Gothic high-rise off of Jefferson on Detroit's riverfront is home to many affluent residents, and has been compared to New York's Dakota apartments.

"It took a while for me and our insurance company to find someone to get in here to do this," said property manager Jim Matzke, "because everybody was talking about bringing in a 200-foot crane, which is too big for the driveway. Along came Steve Smith, and he had the perfect solution. I'm very happy with the job."

The building's signature turret was waterproofed in a single day.

"The first time of the season I might think about the heights a little, but after that, it doesn't enter my mind. I love it up there," Steve Smith said. He has also rappelled on the Ambassador Bridge and the One Detroit Center skyscraper. "There's a job to do and you do it. There's no one else up there and the scenery is unbelievable."

MILBRAND ROOFING Co.'s Steve Smith rappels on the Detroit Towers turret.



Still waiting for your turn to work? Poor planning vexes construction

Everyone who has ever worn a hard hat has worked on a project that, for our inability to use a stronger term, was "screwed up."

It's a major source of frustration for skilled workers who want to come in, do their job right, and then go to the next job. When delays set it, the frustration factor can be as important as the pay level in how a worker views his or her job - in fact, some workers would probably take less money to avoid some hassles.

If it's any comfort, it seems as if many of the problems start at the top - with management.

Cockshaw's Newsletter, an impartial construction industry publication, reported in July that "the industry's top tradesmen cannot deliver solid performance if the job suffers from poor management practices!"

So what's keeping productivity low and preventing workers from doing their best work? Here are the top 10 most common administrative delays, according to Cockshaw's:

  1. Waiting for materials - from the warehouse or offsite.
  2. Waiting for tools and equipment.
  3. Waiting for equipment breakdowns to be fixed.
  4. Re-work due to design, prefabrication or field errors.
  5. Interference from other crews (i.e. one craft waiting for another to finish before they can work).
  6. Overcrowded work areas.
  7. Workplace changes (i.e. not enough work in one area so a tradesperson has to lose time relocating).
  8. Waiting on permits.
  9. Waiting for instructions (i.e. questions about the plans, or when an interpretation of a code or regulation is needed).
  10. Other delays, the most common of which is waiting for scaffolding to be put up or taken down.

Do any of those sound familiar?

Cockshaw's recommends contractors improve communications, organize properly to make sure tools and equipment are on site when needed, and schedule an orderly work flow for the various crafts.

"Management - and the supervisory process itself - are the central keys to improved performance and productivity," Cockshaw's wrote.

(Information from Cockshaw's Labor News + Opinion, P.O. Box 427, Newton Square, PA 19073. (610) 353-0123).



Road workers need safety info
Tremendous employee turnover and lack of employer enforcement has led to inconsistent safety equipment usage by road construction workers.

A survey by the International Safety Equipment Association funded the research to "see how many unprotected workers are out there," said the group's spokesman, Joseph Walker, to the Construction Labor Report.

They found that hard hats and high-visibility safety vests were worn about 75 percent of the time they are needed. However, ear plugs and safety glasses are worn only about half the time they are needed, and usage for respiratory protection and face shields falls into the 30-40 percent range.

The survey found that between six and seven out of10 workers wear fall protection, gloves and safety shoes when needed.

Lack of employer enforcement was the top reason for the lack of compliance with safety equipment, while lack of information was cited as the reason for not using personal protection equipment like ear plugs.

"There's a constant need to keep workers informed about safety issues," Walker said.

Eastpointers asked to OK living wage
Voters in Eastpointe are asked to help uphold the city's Living Wage Ordinance by voting "yes" on the Sept. 11 primary ballot.

The Living Wage Ordinance applies to businesses, regardless of locale, that have service contracts with the City of Eastpointe for $5,000 or more. Those businesses must pay a minimum of $8.50 per hour with benefits or $10.50 without. The goal of living wage is to keep employees off public assistance.

The current minimum wage is $5.15 per hour.

The Eastpointe City Council unanimously voted to adopt the Living Wage Ordinance on April 3. However, a petition drive obtained sufficient signatures to place the measure on the ballot. The vote is on Sept. 11, but voters in Eastpointe can plan ahead to get an absentee ballot by calling (810) 445-5026. A fundraiser to support living wage will be held in the city from 5-7 p.m. on Aug. 22. For more information, call the Eastpointe Coalition for a Living Wage at (810) 776-7145.

Contributions can be sent to Leo LaLonde, Treasurer, Eastpointe Living Wage Coalition, 24801 Rosalind, Eastpointe, MI 48021.

Technical shortcomings slow construction
The Great Lakes Fabricators and Erectors Association's internet site "Riveteer" column took note of the lack of a trend in the construction industry in Michigan: using computers to electronically move documents like blueprints and permits in order to speed the building process.

The column mentioned a recent conclusion by the National Conference of States on Building Codes & Standards, which cited "inertia," "resistance to anything new," the construction industry's pronounced tendency toward fragmentation, and some technical restraints for preventing the standard digitalization of the building regulatory process.

The Engineering News Record noted the conference has been calling for standard digitalization to streamline the permitting and approval process since 1982.

The group is pulling together an alliance of representatives from 25 national organizations and governmental agencies, including the American Institute of Architects, Building Owners & Managers Association, and the National Institute of Building Sciences. It hopes to develop a standard systems of software and hardware that can be used by the more than 44,000 jurisdictions across the U.S. that regulate buildings, to reduce the expenses that can occur when building permits are delayed.


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