Connector - Summer 2020

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Ingenuity, Planning,

Quality Workmanship


Erectors overcome restricted sites with coordinated logistics

18 Contracts and HR Management in a Post COVID-19 World


22 Tech Tools for the Trade


c ntents


FEATURES Management


Contracts and HR Management in a Post COVID-19 World Tips for reviewing contracts and employment policies in a new normal, as business owners prepare for the future. By Stephen Safran

In the Field


Tech Tools for the Trade Technology streamlines operations, enhances steel erection's career appeal, and workers appreciate tools that allow them to work smarter, not harder. By Lucy Perry

26 Cover Story Award winning projects in Class I and II of SEAA’s annual Project of the Year competition relied on creative lift planning and transportation logistics to stay on schedule on restricted job sites. By Lucy Perry On the Cover: Complex curves are a signature design element of the Trojan Fitness & Wellness Center on Troy University campus, erected by ROPAC, Inc. Above: Williams Steel Erection Co., Inc., devised an off site assembly plan for the asymmetrical Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Bridge in Arlington, Va. ONLINE HIGHLIGHTS Q Coronavirus Resource Page

DEPARTMENTS 8 Perspective

Q IPAF Report: Insights into Work Platform Accidents

10 Association News

Q AISC offers Remote Assessments for Certifications

14 Product Focus

Q SJI releases New Version of Joist Girder Moment Connections Document

Check out our latest social media feeds. See more photos of Project of the Year winning entries.


32 Business Operations 34 Topping Out Connector received Superstar Award from Construction Marketing Association. The Steel Erectors Association of America (SEAA) is dedicated to advancing the common interests and needs of all engaged in building with steel. The Association’s objectives in achieving this goal include the promotion of safety, education and training programs for steel erector trades, development and promotion of standards and cooperation with others in activities which impact the commercial construction business.


Membership in Steel Erectors Association of America provides Safety, Education, and Productivity benefits for its members. As a trade association representing Steel Erectors, Fabricators, General Contractors, and Vendors, businesses with complementary interests gain invaluable opportunities to learn from each other.

SEAA is the only national trade association representing the interests of steel erectors, fabricators, and related service providers. Connector reaches both small and large contractors working in union and open labor markets.

Your Industry No other national association represents the unique interests of all steel erectors and fabricators. Members are experts in construction of commercial buildings, arenas, bridges, and highway structures. Members enhoy opportunities to network with other industry professionals at the Anuual Covention, golf tournaments, member events and training classes.

Improve Safety and Productivity Members have access to custom Ironworker Craft Training Curriculum. Studies show 24% of businesses experience lower productivity due to the lack of skilled ironworkers and welders. A better trained workforce delivers lower accidents rates, higher productivity, and increased profits.

Accredited Credentials at Reduced Cost SEAA’s NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) sponsorship means that member companies can provide industry-recognized credentials to your employees with the benefit of SEAA adminstrative support and at a lower cost to members than going direct through NCCER.

Competitive Advantage SEAA’s U.S. Department of Labor-approved Ironworker Apprenticeship Program allows members to create formal training that meets standards recognized by Federal and State governments. Pariticipation allows merit shop contractors to utilize government approved apprenticeship rates on Davis Bacon Wage Projects.

Influence Industry Standards SEAA strategic partnerships with industry groups provide member companies with industry representation with American Institute of Steel Construction, Steel Joist Institute, Steel Deck Institute, National Institute of Steel Detailing, and others.

Steel Erectors Association of America Piedmont Leaf Lofts 401 E. 4th Street, #204 Winston-Salem, NC 27101-4171 336-294-8880 OFFICERS & EXECUTIVE STAFF Geoff Kress, President David Schulz, Immediate Past President Carrie Sopuch-Gulajan, VP, Associate Representative David Deem, VP, Industry Representative Greg Phillips, Treasurer Chris Legnon, Secretary and Media Committee Chairman Tom Underhill, Executive Director PUBLISHING PARTNER Chris Harrison, Publisher Phone 660-287-7660 Tracy Bennett, Managing Editor Phone 816-536-7903 Eileen Kwiatkowski, Art Director MEDIA ADVISORY COMMITTEE Chris Legnon, Fabricators, Cooper Steel Jim Simonson, Fabricators, Steel Service David Deem, Erectors, Deem Structural Services Glen Pisani, Erectors, MAS Building & Bridge Ben Wein, Erectors, SSW Erectors Bryan McClure, Safety, Trivent Safety Consulting Connector™ is published quarterly by the Steel Erectors Association of America, 401 E. 4th Street, #204, Winston-Salem, NC 27101-4171

Join by calling the SEAA office 336-294-8880 or visit Discover why a SEAA Membership is a good investment for your business.


Copyright 2020 by the Steel Erectors Association of America. No material may be reprinted without permission from the Executive Director. While the information and recommendations contained in this publication have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable, the Steel Erectors Association of America, its affiliates, employees, contributors, writers, editors, designers, photographers, and media advisory committee, makes no guarantee as to, and assumes no responsibility for, the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations and cannot be held responsible for the outcome of any action or decision based on the information contained in this publication or claims made by advertisers. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission of the Publisher. Permission is only deemed valid if approval is in writing.


300 Scarlet Blvd. Oldsmar, FL 34677 Phone: 813.891.9849 Fax: 813.891.4105 Duke Perry, VP of Sales/Operations 404-808-0504


By Geoff Kress

The Bright Side: How the coronavirus will make construction better


e are living and working in unprecedented times, and the impact of this pandemic is yet to be fully understood. As I write, we are weeks into stay-in-place orders, even while construction deemed “essential” continues. Like each of your businesses, the association has adapted. In April, I took office as President of SEAA for 2020-2022. We held elections by email ballot and conducted online board and membership meetings. This is one example of how the pandemic is changing the way we do business. Historically, the construction industry has been less successful than other sectors in improving productivity. According to research published by McKinsey Global Institute in 2017, over the past 20 years, productivity in construction has grown at only 1% annually, while agriculture and manufacturing have far surpassed that. However, as the current situation forces us to find other ways to do business, construction may at last see improvements in the ability to do more work with the same amount of people. Here are a few ways I think construction will be forever changed for the better. Video conferencing for business meetings is not new, but was previously considered less effective than in-person meetings. There is still value in meeting and networking in person, but perhaps we’ll be more choosey about when we do that. Those pre-construction meetings the GC requires all subcontractors to attend require airfare, hotel stays, and days out of the office. There’s no reason why those can’t be done virtually with much less time and financial cost, and no difference in communication outcome. Meanwhile, social networking where business relationships are nurtured, like on the golf course or at a conference, will likely retain their value as they deliver a benefit that can’t be achieved on a video conference. In addition, all training doesn’t necessarily have to happen in person. Yes, construction is a hands-on industry, which will always require certain amount of direct field training, but some information can be conveyed in other ways. We are about to start a job in Texas. My crew is going to participate in an online jobsite safety orientation prior to arriving on site. That means my crew will be able to get to work immediately, rather than spending 90 minutes in the job trailer. Not only is this more efficient, Geoff Kress is President of the Steel Erectors Association of America, and Vice President and majority owner of Gardner-Watson Decking, Inc., Oldsmar, Fla. Contact him at


it provides the benefit of documentation. Other examples for more technical training might be online instructor led courses or pre-recorded, self-directed training. NCCER offers a variety of webinars, virtual training, and remote proctoring options. Visit, to learn more. Historically, jobsite safety has focused on prevention of injury without a lot of regard for personal hygiene or comfort. There was a time when manufacturing was considered dirty business. Many facilities are now clean, well-ventilated, temperature controlled, brightly lit. The same could be true for construction sites. Recently, my company invested in providing our own portable toilets and washing stations to make sure our crews had access to clean bathrooms. At a relatively low cost, I am able to provide something that is meaningful to my crew. Other examples are providing 12x12 pop up canopies that can be screwed to the deck during the summer to provide shade. I predict we’ll see more of that in the future. Cleaner more comfortable work areas might have the added benefit of changing perceptions about construction, and attracting new workers. Likewise, during this virus we have seen how important frontline workers are to our society. If we can find ways to automate construction processes and save our field employees for the work that only they can do, this raises the value of their skills. We’ve been using standup tools for some time. Ergonomically designed equipment means workers are become less fatigued, deliver greater production, and reduces back injuries. Look to the article in this issue about new technologies that are streamlining construction. I believe we will see a faster adoption of these kinds of tools. Bids and contracts may also change. Usually the subcontractor is working against the deadline under penalty for failure to meet it. There should be language in the future that protects subcontractors when jobsites are shut down for extended periods of time. But there also should be language that gives us the ability to protect our workers from being compelled to return to work if unsafe conditions exist. Finally, the pandemic may cause many of us to re-evaluate what is important on a personal level. Many reports say that Americans work longer hours and take fewer vacations than our counterparts in other countries.. Lately, I've been reminded about the importance of family time and have thought more about how to maintain work-life balance in the future.



2020 West Barberry Place Denver, CO 80204 | AWARD WINNING,Connector MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISE | SUMMER EDITION June 2020

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ASSOCIATION NEWS ■ Short Videos Enhance SEAA/NCCER Ironworker Level 1

S EVENTS & ACTIVITIES SEAA 3rd Quarter Board Meeting To be determined

21st Annual Golf Tournament Lonnie Poole Golf Course Raleigh, NC

EAA announces that four new Craft Training Videos are now available through the Members Only Portal on the SEAA website. These short videos support the SEAA/NCCER Ironworker Level 1 curriculum and have been designed to complement your existing training materials. For log in assistance, please contact the SEAA office "SEAA is working toward developing about 20 additional Level 1 videos that can be used to accompany the Craft Training Program. These training videos are only available to members of SEAA and are a great tool to help engage your employees in training," said Tim Eldridge, President of Education Services Unlimited and SEAA’s Craft Training and Assessment Administrator.

Core Module One, 00101 Basic Safety • Objective 2 - Properly don, fit, and remove a Fall Arrest Harness.

Ironworking Module Four, 0030104 Fastening • Objective 2 - Demonstrate the turn-of-nut method. • Objective 4 - Demonstrate the proper use of a tension control gun.

Ironworking Module Nine, 00109 Structural Ironworking Event subject to change due to COVID-19 updates. events.html

• Objective 4 - Make bolted connections on structural steel.

■ Officers Elected to Lead Association

Geoff Kress

SEAA announces new officers and board members. Geoff Kress, Vice President of Gardner-Watson Decking, Inc., Oldsmar, Fla., was elected President. Kress has been a member of SEAA since 2007 and served as Treasurer for eight years. In 2011, he was honored as the SEAA Person of the Year. Kress will serve a two-year term from 2020 to 2022. Joining the Executive Committee is David Deem, president of Deem Structural Services. Longview, Texas, newly elected to the position of Vice President, Industry Member. Returning officers include Carrie Gulajan, Vice President, Associate Member; Greg Phillips, Treasurer, and Chris Legnon, Secretary. In addition, the SEAA Board of Directors welcome two new members: Drew Heron of Empire Steel Inc., Humble, Texas, and Ed Valencia of Memco LLC, Culpeper, Va. Heron and Valencia are superseding Ben Wadlington and Bob Beckner. Beckner recently stepped down after spending 27 years on the Board of Directors in anticipation of his retirement later this year.

■ Arizona, Pennsylvania Erectors Complete Training Unit Orientation Two companies have joined the network of SEAA/NCCER Ironworker Training Units and Assessment Sites. They are S&H Steel, Gilbert, Ariz., and L&L Construction Inc., Quakertown, Pa. The Steel Erectors Association of America is an NCCER Accredited Training Sponsor, which affords member companies access to nationally recognized credentials, with the benefit of reduced administrative costs. “This brings our network of SEAA/NCCER training units to 26, with more than 90 instructors and performance evaluators nationwide,” said Tom Underhill, Executive Director. Learn more at 10 | THE STEEL ERECTORS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

■ Member Companies Receive Safety

Excellence and Craft Training Awards

SEAA announces the recipients of the 2020 Safety Excellence Award and Craft Training Recognition Award. See list of award winners, page 11. “SEAA members represent all sizes of structural steel erectors, many of them with exemplary training and safety practices,” said Bryan McClure, Chairman of SEAA’s Safety and Education Committee. “We are pleased to establish this recognition of companies that are doing the hard work of preparing and protecting their employees. These awards demonstrate how SEAA members are shaping our industry for a better future,” he said. For both awards, World Class was issued to the highest achieving companies. Premier is the second level of recognition, followed by Gold. The Safety Excellence Award acknowledges 11 SEAA members in three categories that have gone above and beyond in the effort to provide Ironworkers a safe place to work. The award recipients were selected based on evaluations of their EMR ratings, OSHA 300A statistics, and safety program processes over the last three years. Scoring was based on points assigned to a multi-criteria analysis, conducted in blind review by members of SEAA’s Safety & Education Committee. The Craft Training Recognition Award was issued to six companies that are playing critical roles in the development of skilled ironworkers at a time when shortages of craft professionals are at an all-time high. Applicants were evaluated on the portability of credentials, availability of apprenticeship programs, training, and recruitment efforts. Companies were evaluated in comparison to others of similar size, based on the number of Ironworkers the company employed during the 2019 calendar year.

High Plains Steel Services received both Safety Excellence and Craft Training awards. Pictured (left to right) are: Kris McLean, Mike Hurst and Jay McLean of High Plains Steel Services with Bryan McClure, Trivent Safety Consultants and Chairman of SEAA’s Safety and Education Committee. High Plains Steel Services was one of three companies that was recognized in both programs. The others were Empire Steel Inc. and Flawless Steel Welding, LLC.

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■ Six Erectors Take Project of the Year Prizes Six steel erection companies have been named as recipients in the annual Project of the Year awards by SEAA for steel construction projects that were topped out in either 2018 or 2019. Read more about Class I and II winners on page 26, and watch for more about Class III and IV winners in the Fall 2020 issue.

Ropac Inc. for Troy Wellness building at Troy University, Troy, Ala. (Class I for erection contracts up to $525,000) A Wellness Center located at the main entrance of Troy University campus required that work be performed with as little disruption as possible to daily activities. Space constraints and flooding made execution even more difficult. According to the judge panel: “The curved hung running track, the radiused members of the Rotunda, and the 115' trusses were some of the unique components on this project.”

Williams Steel Erection Co., Inc., for Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Walkway, Arlington, Va. (Class II for $525,000 to $1 million) The Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Walkway is a 145 ft. long, 100-ton bridge with no symmetry. It changes direction twice and is made of exposed pipe. Public safety was a major concern, with little room to work on the signature feature over a busy four-lane road with no center pier. The judge panel reported: "Planning was key on this project. Williams Steel Erection Company was able to successfully propose and implement an alternate erection plan to accommodate the complicated geometry and urban setting."

Alliance Riggers & Constructors for Bel Air High School, El Paso, Texas (Class III for $1 million to $2.5 million) A new multi-level arts and sports complex for Ysleta Independent School District replaced an existing single level gym within the same restricted location. “Long spans and heavy trusses defined this project. Floor trusses were 127' long, and roof trusses were 177' long, weighing up to 60 tons each. Temporary bracing and guying were also critical components of this project,” summarized the judge panel. Successful execution required close coordination with the fabricator and engineering firms to properly plan erection and fabrication sequencing.

Peterson Beckner Industries for Kinder Building at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas (Class IV for over $2.5 million) “There is nothing ordinary about this structure,” said the judge panel of the Museum of Fine Arts, Kinder Building. Floor framing consists of two levels of geometrically complicated heavy wide flange composite structure. The roof is an intricate weaving of sloped and swept pipe trusses, infilled with sloped and rolled wide flange beams to form a network of concave roof sections. Primary challenges included erection phasing of the composite floor level framing and in-depth sequencing of the complex roof framing. In addition, development of erection procedures to ensure field fit-up and stability of the structure while under construction was critical.

Empire Steel for Holocaust Museum, Houston, Texas (Class II) Honorable Mention This high-profile project included tilt wall and structural steel erection around several priceless exhibits that remained in the museum during construction. Sequencing, critical crane lifts, and noise restrictions all contributed to the challenges of executing the project on time and on budget.

Metrolina Steel Erectors for Capital One Hall, Tysons Corner, Va. (Class IV) Honorable Mention Capital One Hall will be used to host Capital One corporate events. The steel scope consisted of more than 3,000 tons of structural steel, including long and short span trusses, heavy plate girders, large box columns, grand stairs, and elaborate round pipe. During construction the building was divided into five sections, each with its own challenges, represented by tight laydown areas, critical lifts, need for accuracy with project sequencing, and quality control for ease of field assembly of shop built pieces.


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Hilti DX 9-HSN Fastening Tools

■ Stand Up Fastening Tool Contributes to Speed and Comfort Decking crews from Gardner-Watson Decking, Inc., are using Hilti DX 9-HSN digitally enabled, powder-actuated fastening tools on a 1.2 million sq. ft. project in Pittsburg, Pa. Ergonomically designed, the decking tool allows workers to remain in an upright position for high speed use and long-term user comfort. Gardner-Watson is working with Cooper Steel Inc. on the Amazon non-sort distribution facility, which is scheduled to open next year. “We use the Hilti DX 9-HSN to increase speed of installing deck fasteners,” said Will Nichols, Project Manager. “It is also easier to train new hires to use this tool instead of welding,” he said. Other features include adjustable power regulator for more precise control and a piston brake system that helps to prevent fasteners from punching through the deck. A digital service indicator gives real-time feedback on when to clean and service the tool and the tool’s operating temperature. Bluetooth enabled, the DX 9 syncs to the Hilti Connect app, where users can find how-to videos and tool usage data.

■ Red D Arc offers Lincoln Electric’s

Maverick welder

The Maverick welder, recently released by Lincoln Electric is available for lease or rental from Red D Arc. From one superquiet diesel power source, the Maverick allows two welders to operate independently of each other. Integrated technology that matches engine rpm to the required load results in significant fuel and labor savings, according to Red D Arc. The Maverick gives users the ability to choose independent welding processes, making 200 amps available to each user with no power drops when the other user strikes or finishes an arc. Red D Arc offers the welder through its Logistic Lease program or standard rental terms.

The Maverick Welder

■ SkillWork Expands to Construction Market SkillWork, a travel staffing company for the skilled trades, has expanded services for the construction market. Construction companies searching for the right skilled workers can partner with SkillWork to find superintendents, project managers, and welders. All candidates are highly qualified, tested, and vetted. The travel-based staffing model addresses the growing skilled labor shortage by matching the people with the right skills to the needs of the company. Skillwork partners find workers for temporary or permanent placement to grow their business by being fully staffed, save money by avoiding bad hires, and prevent burnout of current workforce. Skillwork recruits nationally and their employees receive medical, dental, vision, and retirement benefits. 14 | THE STEEL ERECTORS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

Maeda MC285

■ Maeda Launches New Gen Mini-Cranes at


Maeda USA debuted several new mini-crane models at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020. The exhibit included the new-generation MC285-3, which now includes multi-angle outriggers, a state-of-the-art wireless remote control, new-generation touch screen moment limiter safety system, and a removable electric motor package for maximum versatility. It was displayed with the popular 1,870 lb. searcher hook attachment, white non-marking tracks, and the new HBC wireless remote control. Maeda also debuted the MC090 with an auxiliary winch with a 325-foot below-grade reach and Maeda’s new wireless remote. It has a rated capacity of 1,990 lbs., under the 2,000 lb. limit requiring a formal crane operator’s certification. Additional new or updated mini-cranes include: MC285-2, powered with a dual fuel gasoline and LPG/propane fuel system; MC305-3, updated with a new 3,300 lb. capacity searcher hook; and MC405-3, with several new features and on display with a fly jib.

■ NCCCO Makes Mobile Crane Operator Exams

Available in Spanish

After years of development by its Spanish Technical Review Group, The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) now offers CCO Mobile Crane Operator written certification exams in Spanish. In compliance with both ANSI accreditation and OSHA Subpart CC regulations, the Spanish-language CCO exams are direct translations of the English-language exams, based on identical content outlines and containing the same number of questions. All exam parameters are the same, including length of time and passing score. Language used follows international standards for translating certification exams. Connector | SUMMER EDITION June 2020 | 15

■ More than 100 Attachments Available for Magni Rotating


Magni’s RTH 13.26 SH telehandler offers a maximum lifting capacity of 28,600 lbs. on stabilizers or on rubber tires for pick and carry. At maximum lifting height of 86 feet, it can lift 17,600 lbs. At maximum reach of 70 feet, it can still lift 4,000 lbs. More than 100 dynamic attachments create several machines in one, including a telescopic forklift, rough-terrain crane, and work platform. In many cases, the 13.26 can replace a crane, helping cut costs, according to Magni. And, RFID attachment recognition features give the operator a fully matched digital load chart, and full LMI to prevent unsafe operating conditions.

Magni’s RTH 13.26 SH

■ Bluebeam Launches New

Version of Revu

Bluebeam, Inc. has launched a new version of their flaship project efficiency and collaboration software. The cloud-based Revu 2019’s improved rendering speed, faster refresh, and quicker initial load times allow users to pan and zoom through documents with greatly reduced latency. New features include an automatic prompt for setting scale and the ability to set independent units for different measurement types. New Configuration Editor allows IT administrators to configure settings, features, and plugins to determine how Revu should be rolled out across the organization.

■ NCCER Offers Marketing Tool

for Recruitment Outreach

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) recently published the “Build Your Outreach: Research & Marketing Resource Guide” as part of its Build Your Future (BYF) recruitment initiative. Designed to provide the construction industry with tools needed to effectively recruit the next generation, this guide focuses on reaching parents, educators, and counselors. NCCER found that 70 percent of parents surveyed would be unlikely to advise their child to choose a career in construction. To change this, “Build Your Outreach” offers analysis and guidance to enable the construction industry to effectively communicate with students’ influencers. Download it at


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By Stephen Safran

Contracts and HR Management in a Post COVID-19 World Tips for moving forward in a new normal


ne thing is for sure, the world has changed. Due to COVID-19, the construction industry’s new normal is still being sorted out. Attorneys are receiving questions from business owners about what their companies should be doing right now to respond to evolving stay-at-home government orders, as well as how to prepare for the future. As is true during more normal times, construction companies are focused on how they Stephen Safran is an attorney practicing law in North Carolina with a focus on construction and employment law. In addition to private practice, he has experience as corporate counsel for a large site work and utilities contractor, overseeing legal and human resources departments. His practice includes representing contractors and design professionals in construction litigation, business litigation, and labor and employment matters. Safran Law Offices, Raleigh, N.C., has delivered a series of weekly webinars and resources on COVID-19 and its effect on the Construction Industry. For more information, visit

can protect themselves when facing a project delay, the difference being the new challenge is due to COVID-19. In addition, less common in a good job market, employers now want to know how to handle employee absenteeism during the pandemic. Two key areas for contractors to focus on in the future—with or without COVID-19 are—force majeure clauses and employee management.

Force majeure clauses If you are unfamiliar with the concept of force majeure, it literally interprets to an “act of God.” It is an unforeseen event that occurs by no fault of the contracting parties. If COVID-19 has not already affected the way you do business, it is possible that you could experience supply chain disruptions and even labor shortages, at some point in the near future. If one of your projects experiences a delay due to COVID-19, a well-crafted force majeure provision could prevent delay related damages to your business. Generally, force majeure provisions consider: (1) whether the event was outside the reasonable control of a party, (2) whether


the event was reasonably foreseeable, (3) whether it affects a party’s ability to perform, and (4) reasonable steps to avoid or mitigate the outcome. For contracts entered into preCOVID-19, it is uniformly considered that COVID-19 was outside the control of the contracting party and did not reference epidemic, pandemic or quarantine related delays. Even though we have been through serious disease outbreaks before, such as H1N1, almost everyone can agree that the COVID-10 pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders, was not reasonably foreseeable.

Giving notice If your contract was entered into before COVID-19 and your business is being impacted, it is recommended that you review your contract and look for prerequisites that must be done before you can be afforded force majeure protection. It is likely that you must give the other party written notice of any force majeure delays. Even if you are not currently experiencing delays, it is recommended that you give “pre-notice” in anticipation of future

Twenty One Years in Business

Connector | SUMMER EDITION June 2020 | 19

COVID-19 related delays. In the pre-notice or notice, include sufficient details regarding the pandemic and how your business or the project could be delayed or is currently experiencing delays. In the case of pre-notice, plan to update the information when the schedule delay actually occurs. In the case of notice, supplement as often as a schedule delay occurs. Remember, as expressed at the beginning of this article, the world is operating in a new normal, and written documentation will be important as we continue to craft the postCOVID-19 future.

employers frequently stressed over. The job market was prospering, and employees were not being forced to abandon a full time job. Now, an employee could be absent for any number of reasons. While it is best for employers to have patience with their employees during these stressful times, employers may have to terminate an employee for unexplained and/or non-responsive absenteeism. In those situations, an employee may apply for unemployment benefits. However, if a company has a written absenteeism policy and the employee has disregarded the policy, it likely qualifies as employee misconduct. Without a written absenteeism policy, the employer has to demonstrate that it verbally established workplace conduct expectations. The best policy is always to put it in writing.

“It cannot be stressed enough that we are in the midst of the new normal. For this reason, detailed written documentation will be critical to ensure that businesses thrive.”

Be explicit in new contracts Speaking of the future, now that we are in a pandemic, do not assume it to be a force majeure in new contracts. At this time, it is no longer unexpected and/or unpredictable. Be explicit in your contracting. When crafting new contracts, make sure to consider the ramifications in your pricing and your scheduling rather than assuming you will be protected when a future pandemic-caused delay occurs. One last point, typically, these provisions lead only to extensions of time for performance and not monetary remedies for delays.

Managing employees Before COVID-19, the job market in the construction industry was prospering. Thus, most employee terminations and/or separations likely fell into one of two categories: (1) the employee voluntarily resigned to take another job, or (2) the employee’s misconduct was obvious and termination was the only option. Now, unanticipated changes such as increased unemployment and innovative work-from-home abilities have changed the landscape of employee management for the construction industry. Due to these changes, it is critical that businesses take the time to review their written employment policies and ensure that they are consistently applying said policies.

Update handbooks Most businesses have a general handbook that they give to their employees. While templates taken offline can cover most of a company’s needs, businesses should now be looking to update these policies and take

into consideration the policies that are most important for their specific business. Reflect on how your business has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and take proactive measures to make sure your written employment policies reflect these changes. While reviewing and revising (where necessary) your employment policies is a good first step, following through to make your employees aware of the changes is even better. Critical policies such as company vehicle usage, absenteeism, use of company property are among the best practices for employers to review during these trying times. As repeated throughout this article, written documentation is critical to employment management before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consistent treatment Consistent application of written employment policies is equally important. Treating similarly situated employees differently can lead to legal issues for your business. This includes, but is not limited to, employment related disputes and workplace morale problems. If an employment related dispute were to arise, you want to be sure that you have a written policy covering the behavior. If you do not have a written policy in place, an employer would have to demonstrate that it is commonly understood amongst the workplace that the employee could not behave in that manner. The most important question to ask when facing an employment benefits claim or complaint to a state or Federal agency is how did the business management treat similarly situated employees in similar circumstances. Before the COVID-19 pandemic employee absenteeism was not something that


Detailed documentation It cannot be stressed enough that we are in the midst of the new normal. For this reason, detailed written documentation will be critical to ensure that businesses thrive. To summarize: • Review your current contracts for force majeure language and/or add language to future contracts. If you are anticipating that you may have a delay claim in the future whether it be through the supply chain or labor shortages, give pre-notice to the other party to the contract. If your business has already been affected, provide the required notice and supplement as often as necessary. For future contracts, consider the impact to your pricing and scheduling. • Furthermore, review your written employment policies and revise as necessary. If you have new policies that are specific and critical, review those policies with your employees and have them sign off that they have read and understand the policy. This article merely discusses a few of the issues affecting construction business owners. Information is being updated hourly. Therefore, individuals and employees, alike, should continue to read, research, and learn about the ways that that they could be affected.

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By Lucy Perry

Tech Tools for the Trade Technology streamlines operations, enhances steel erection’s career appeal With an optical eye, the TyBot robot automates rebar tying for concrete flatwork spotting and tying rebar intersections. A contractor can produce more with the same crew because they no longer have to drop back and complete that task.

Technologies that have the highest adoption rates in the top 20% of companies (considered innovative leaders):

Technologies with the lowest adoption rates in same group of companies: 3D Printing: 28%

Building Information Modeling (BIM): 86%

Machine engineering and design: 28%

Basic data analytics: 83%

Artificial intelligence: 24%

Project management and information systems: 79%

Robotics: 10%

Drones: 72%

Cognitive machine-learning: 10%

Mobile platforms: 69% Source: Raconteur and Visual Capitalist See full infographic at


ncreasing productivity is one way steel erection contractors can battle skilled labor shortages. Integration of new technology offers the added bonus of attracting new workers who appreciate the tools that will allow them to work smarter, not harder. According to research from KPMG FutureReady Index, technologies that have the highest rate of adoption are BIM, data analytics, and project and information management. High Plains Steel Services works smarter with software programs such as BlueBeam and Steel Erection Bid Wizard, which they access Lucy Perry operates WordSkills Editorial Services in Kansas City, Mo. She has spent 25 years following the North American construction industry. She can be reached at

via touch-screen monitors. “BlueBeam and Steel Erection Bid Wizard estimate steel erection with great efficiency,” says Kris McLean, president of the Cheyenne, Wyo., company. “We utilize iPads for our field foremen for access to files, drawings, company documents and email communication tools. Further, we utilize an app for processing all company forms, receipt processing and timekeeping, making our steel erection processes nearly paperless.” However, in an AGC Constructor magazine article, Peter Maglathlin, co-founder and CFO of app developer Trade Hounds, predicts that bottom-up technology will have a bigger impact than top-down approaches. Constructech reports investing in technology to expand capacity without needing additional labor, the industry is reinventing


itself to attract workers, including more women, and to evolve potential career fields. An example of this trend: the adoption of automated welding systems in fabrication shops, which can produce simple beam fabrications. While robotics systems and pre-fabrication methods are common in the factory and shop, examples visible on many jobsites include drones, wearable technologies such as the HoloLens and Smart Helmet, and exoskeletons—wearable machines with motorized joints designed to minimize body strain and injury by providing lift support, dispersing weight, and correcting posture. All of these technologies “are transforming the industry into a career path where creativity, fine motor skills, problem solving, and communications abilities are the key skills

Two Techniques to Watch Rethinking construction processes is also important to improving productivity. Consider the shift to greater pre-fabrication and modular construction or the rise of collaborative processes like BIM. Here are two to watch. 1. “Billboarding” involves raising a steel structure one geographic zone at a time. According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, the process will cut a year off construction of the Washington State Convention Center addition in Seattle, Wash. Five zones are planned in an east-towest sequence, and each zone will reach full height as steel erection begins on the next. The shortened project timeline is attributed to simplified logistics and improved workflow.

A1A Software’s 3D Lift Plan program now features VR as an add-on. On a steel erection project the format allows the user to show the client construction crane placement throughout the entire project.

to have,” according to Constructech. “Those technologies are also making the industry safer, more family-friendly, and more upwardly-mobile for educated workers.”

Eye-openers Two tools, AR and VR, are helping designers and contractors show the client what a project will look like through all of its phases. Specifically, the technology aids clients in visualizing 3D designs, and answers the question of whether what is built in the field matches what was agreed upon in the model. Augmented and virtual reality system designers believe 3D models and the data inside them, combined with artificial intelligence and historical information will impact initial estimate and schedule times. In fact, A1A Software, Fernandina Beach, Fla., has introduced VR as an add-on to its 3D Lift Plan program, which creates computer-generated crane lift plans. On a steel erection project, being able to show the client where the crane will be placed throughout the entire project is a game-changer, says Tawnia Weiss, president of A1A Software. Introduced at ConExpo 2020, “3D Lift Vision extends the ability of 3D Lift Plan to be used as a communication and risk mitigation tool,” said Weiss. Steel erectors might

use the virtual reality simulation of a lift plan to show a fabricator or general contractor how they would position a crane on a jobsite to reach all the areas where steel needs to be erected without repositioning the crane. Or they might use it to demonstrate how they would execute the more critical steel picks, especially large trusses or other components that are assembled on the ground," said Weiss. For risk mitigation, the crew can practice the lift before arriving on site, assess equipment and personnel placement, and determine whether anything has changed that will impact the lift. It also improves communication among lift directors, safety directors, and other contractors or trades.

Front line solutions It was predicted last year that the industry would see a surge in startups building robotic platforms for construction-related tasks, marking the rise of machines on construction jobsites. It’s a trend some steel erectors are embracing. SkyTy uses drone technology to automate rebar tying for concrete flatwork. The system, which consists of a control station and a swarm of drones, is designed to eliminate the backbreaking work of rodbusters who must manually tie rebar on steel erection sites.

Structural steel will be assembled in each zone in two and a half months. Two mobile cranes will erect the steel from the area where the next zone will be built, providing necessary staging space, according to the article. Other trades will start seven and a half months sooner than in a traditional scenario because they only need the first zone to rise above their work level. Throughout the duration of the project, each trade will cycle through in a continuous sequence, rather than in stops and starts. 2. SpeedCore involves the fabrication of steel plate with ties, erected and welded in the field, and filled with concrete. With all the strength, stiffness, and damping of reinforced concrete, it has no tolerance incapabilities and none of the trade coordination required for a reinforced concrete wall installation. As a result, construction proceeds a lot faster with this system. The technique is being used on the Ranier Square Tower in Seattle, where it offers a huge savings for the owner because it’s projected to rise at least four months faster. Four stories of the empty Ranier Square Tower module were designed to advance ahead of the concrete fill. The overall project savings primarily comes from the reduction in the construction schedule and the more accurate tolerances in steel erection as opposed to concrete placement.

Connector | SUMMER EDITION June 2020 | 23

TyBot’s system accomplishes the same task using different technol- process. “Today, the most effective conversions begin with a botogy. An optical eye on the autonomous robot spots a rebar intersection tom-up approach that engages day-to-day users and builds upon and ties every intersection or every other. “TyBot provides a great their experiences and insights to create operational shortcuts, instills opportunity to shorten project delivery times as it affects the rebar, programming efficiencies and fixes broken processes,” writes Mike which is often on the project’s critical path,” said Carson T. Carney, Mullin of Integrated Business Systems. vice president of sales and technology integration at TyBot, LLC in In assessing new technology, the team should consider three Allison Park, Pa. “Highly consistent and quality work product increases issues. If there is failure in any one of these areas, Helge Jacobsen, vice efficiency. By performing the same work with reduced manhours, president of United Rentals, believes the entire technology adoption it enhances safety.” fails. First, the technology must present tangible value. It has to be As Jack Nix of Shelby Erectors explains it, a rodbuster can make quantifiable. Second, it has to present value from Day One. “Payback 60 to 120 ties per hour. “You have guys who can tie more than 120 must be immediate,” said Jacobsen, who spoke about technology an hour, but can they sustain that for eight hours straight? No.” The trends at ConExpo in March. Third, the cost of technology transportironworkers lay steel out as they normally would prior to the machine ability can’t be overlooked. “What works well at a trade show may coming in, and then continue laying steel. “So you use the same crew not work on the job site, in adverse weather, where communication size but they produce more because they don’t have to drop back is by hand gestures and employees are wearing gloves and safety and do that task,” explains Nix, vice president of operations for the glasses,” says Jacobsen. Davie, Fla.-based bridge rebar contractor. Peter Maglathlin, co-founder and CFO of app developer Trade “In terms of operations, there is actually no savings because Hounds, believes the majority of new-age construction technologies I’m trading labor dollars for tech dollars. But there is savings to be have value in creating positive change. “A product or platform geared achieved. Contractors will save money on improved schedules and towards the worker, not management, will be most widely adopted owners will save on their delivery time. In a contract with set dura- and engaged with, and therefore have the most impact,” he says in tions and production, that’s worth it to owners or contractors if they an AGC Constructor magazine article. While steel erection contractors will embrace new technologies can improve either of those aspects by 25 percent,” said Nix. Reducing the tying work also saves on back claims and worker endurance to different degrees, Nix of Shelby Erectors believes technology is challenges, he adds. crucial to the industry’s future. “Our company is paperless and we Welders are also reaping technology benefits on steel erection embrace technology. We want to be on the leading edge of what’s projects. Lincoln Electric’s CrossLinc technology allows the welder in out there. We as an industry need to look at solutions, especially with the field to control output from the power source either remotely or labor shortages as they are.” via radio request. As Al Nystrom of Lincoln Electric explains, a welder two or three floors up is nowhere near the power source. If the settings are off in any way, the ironworker is With Lincoln Electric’s CrossLinc technology the welder in the field can control power forced to unhook the harness, climb down to the ground, output remotely or by radio. He avoids walking or climbing over cables and barriers, has walk to the power source, adjust the setting, then reverse controls at the arc, and can put down more metal. course and climb back up and suit up again. More-robust heavy welding cable controlling the process remotely increases safety because the welder avoids walking or climbing over cables and barriers more than needed. “It improves quality because he has controls at the arc. He can put down more metal, and he spends more time welding, so more work gets done,” says Nystrom. When the cable-eliminating technology was introduced five years ago, it was marketed for industrial and heavyduty projects. Because customers want the technology on smaller construction sites, Lincoln Electric has created a line of power sources with integrated CrossLinc technology. Nystrom tells of one customer who set the system up on a jobsite and one welder demonstrated it for another welder. The next day, the second welder claimed it. “The guys almost came to blows at one point over the system because nobody wanted to give it up,” recalled Nystrom.

Implementation A layered approach to technology implementation is best, say experts. Today’s solutions enable phasing-in, but it has to start with the people who’ll actually be using them. Construction Business Owner suggests getting the folks on the front line to weigh in during the decision-making 24 | THE STEEL ERECTORS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

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Trojan Fitness and Wellness Center, Troy, Ala. Class I (up to $525,000) Erector: ROPAC, Inc. Fabricator: Contractors Steel Supply, Inc. Detailer: Contractors Steel Supply, Inc. Structural Engineer: Blackburn Daniels O'Barr, Inc. Construction Manager: Whaley Construction Company, Inc. Contract Value: $510,000 Tons of Steel: 530

Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Walkway, Arlington, Va. Class II (Over $525,000 to $1 million) Erector: Williams Steel Erection Co., Inc. Fabricator: Crystal Steel Fabricators, Inc. Detailer: Crystal Steel Fabricators, Inc. Structural Engineer: Peller & Associates, Inc. Construction Manager: Clark Construction Group, LLC Contract Value: $600,000 Tons of Steel: 100

Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston, Texas Class II Honorable Mention Erector: Empire Steel Inc. Fabricator: Myrex Industries Detailer: Myrex Industries Structural Engineer: Walter P Moore Construction Manager: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. Contract Value: $675,854 Tons of Steel: 490

By Tina Cauller

Ingenuity, Planning, and

Quality Workmanship

Erectors overcome restricted sites with coordinated logistics


Williams Steel Erection's project manager had never seen a bridge with so many articulations. Erecting it required the team to present an alternative plan to the contractor.

ward winning projects in Class I and II of SEAA’s annual Project of the Year competition relied on creative lift planning and transportation logistics to stay on schedule on restricted job sites. Shown here are three of the six winning entries. (Look for coverage of Class III and Class IV winners in the Fall 2020 issue.) Projects were topped out in either 2018 or 2019 and were selected by an independent panel of judges. “Erectors work closely with fabrication, engineering, and general contractors in roles that often require revisiting the drawing board to customize rigging or material handling devices, collaborate on more efficient connection methods, or devise better fall protection systems to safely keep projects on schedule and on budget. These award-winning projects are good examples of that ingenuity,” said Alan Sears, Awards Committee Chairman. “Expanding the scope of the submission criteria to a 24-month window greatly increased the number of completed project submissions we received,” said. “This provides SEAA members with an opportunity to showcase their most interesting, and often most challenging, structural steel erection work.”

■ Curves on the corner The idea for a new Trojan Fitness & Wellness Center on the Troy University campus in Troy, Ala., was initiated by students, and the $25-million Center was funded by student recreation fees. Situated on a high-profile corner of campus, the facility features multiple activity courts with complex curves, a signature design element repeated across the Troy campus. The 78,000-square-foot center has an open floor plan that gives visitors an unimpeded view into all three levels of the building, with an area that offers a stunning 360-degree view of the campus. It includes a basketball court, free and circuit weight training areas, aerobic Tina Cauller is a graphic designer and freelance writer with 30 years of experience reporting for trade and technical publications in building construction and real estate markets. She can be reached at tinacauller@


exercise rooms, a café, an outdoor swimming pool, a multi-level indoor walking track, and four offices. ROPAC, Inc., was recognized with SEAA’s Project of the Year Award for Class I for their performance in erecting the new facility, a project which posed several difficult challenges. “The combination of limited space, critical lifts, custom steel members, and weather concerns Complex curves are signature design element of the Trojan Fitness & Wellness Center.

Heavy rains and flooding presented a challenge at the start of construction.

made this high-visibility project a challenge,” said Patricia Davis, co-owner of ROPAC. The company navigated every hurdle that arose without compromising safety or scheduling. Davis credits the General Contractor. “Whaley Construction Co., Inc., coordinated all the trades in a manner which allowed for a productive, safe project,” she said.

Off to a soggy start The project broke ground in January, followed quickly by a wet spring. “It rained off and on from early May through June. At one point after a particularly heavy downpour, flooding at the site filled the basement of the new structure with water, and we had to rescue our scissor lifts from several feet of water,” said Davis. But after some initial scrambling, the steel erection team managed to move the project steadily forward without delay. Troy University is known for its iconic rotundas that stand out in the architectural landscape. The same is true of the Fitness & Wellness Center, with its three-story open rotunda on the northwest side of the building. Complex curves of the running track echo the curvilinear theme. To add to the challenges posed by the track’s geometry, its suspended design required that it be erected in the air.

Suspended multiradius track

To construct the multi-radius track, each piece of deck had to be cut individually to fit the radius walkway.

The third-floor level above the ball courts is dedicated to the suspended indoor walking and running track with adjustable inclination, similar to the inwardly angled curves of a racetrack. To construct the multi-radius track, each piece of deck had to be cut individually to fit the radius walkway. The process was time-consuming but resulted in a custom-finished product. The completed track has a stainless steel cable rail system which adds to the aesthetics and functionality of the building. The radius tube steel framing used to build the track was rolled in the shop. The job required impeccable precision and attentive worksmanship so the pieces would align correctly and butt together. According to Davis, “The fabricator, Contractors Steel Supply, Inc., did a great job because everything fit flawlessly. Working with the fabricator to obtain field measurements and coordinate the steel portion of the work is one of the reasons the project was a success.”

No room for laydown Framing for the center included six 115foot trusses. The truss segments were shipped in pairs to the site and field welded, then set in place immediately, since there was no room on site for lay down. There was insufficient room on site for a single large crane, so after welding was completed, the ROPAC team used two 70-ton Link-Belt truck cranes working in tandem to hoist and set the trusses. “Lifts which utilize two cranes require careful coordination,” said Davis. “Any tandem lift demands thorough planning and communication with everyone involved. Our team of experienced lifting personnel was a key factor in the success of this phase.” At the entrance to the university, the new Center makes a memorable first impression and gives students an opportunity to focus on wellness and recreation. It is also expected to become a factor in college choices as prospective students look for well-equipped recreational facilities that support an active, athletic lifestyle.

There was no room to set up one large crane, so two smaller 70-ton cranes lifted trusses in tandem.

Connector | SUMMER EDITION June 2020 | 27

Off site assembly provided a faster, safer, more cost-effective solution.

■ All the right answers for asymmetrical bridge When the preliminary plans for the Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Bridge came in, the Williams Steel Erection team knew this was their type of project. The 145-ft long, 100ton bridge connects a mall with a parking garage across a primary thoroughfare in Arlington, Va. The bridge design, created by studioTECHNE architects, has no symmetry, is warped in multiple dimensions with changing slopes and angles along its expanse, and changes direction twice. It was to be made of multiple large exposed tubular steel members on top with straight wide flange beams on the bottom. The finished bridge ranges from 15 to 21 feet tall and features an undulating zinc roof and a glass curtain walled exterior. Planning for the project began in 2017. “When the project first came across my desk, my initial reaction was pretty much ‘what in the world?’” remembers Matt Skinner, Project Manager. “I had never seen a bridge with so many articulations. The design was really out-of-the-box, and the complex shape of the bridge was a puzzle to figure out. The best solution for erecting the structure was not immediately obvious.” The location was across a busy road with virtually no room to work. The initial plan proposed by the general contractor was to shut down half of the four-lane road the bridge went over and build half the bridge on shoring over a period of three months. Then the first half would be reopened, the second half closed, and the process repeated. The Williams project team had major concerns. First, the street below the bridge is a primary thoroughfare and it was not likely Arlington would agree to a six-month closure. Second, since there was no center pier, this plan required shoring that would support

half the weight of the bridge, positioned in the middle of the busy street underneath the bridge with cars driving perilously close. This was a major public safety concern, not to mention the cost and time to design and install the shoring.

A better solution The Williams Steel Erection team proposed a faster, safer, more cost-effective solution. The new plan began with fully assembling the bridge on the ground in a nearby park, meaning it could be done safely without disturbing the public. This plan also allowed any issues with delivery and fit up to be resolved without the time crunch created by a major road closure. Once fully assembled, the bridge

Careful planning was required to place the bridge section with little room to spare.


would be loaded onto a trailer, moved into place, and set with a crane, only requiring road closure for a single weekend. After offsetting the traffic control and shoring costs, this method would not involve any additional cost. The contractor accepted this alternative plan. Then the hard work began. The geometry of the bridge and the tight space in which the bridge had to be erected led to a long list of engineering challenges for the team to sort out.

Tough to transport, tight site Pre-planning took into consideration that the bridge connected two existing buildings with a two-inch expansion joint at each end. Complicating this further, the two buildings

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were not parallel to each other. Existing trees on both sides of the bridge could not be removed or damaged because of local ordinances protecting the few remaining green spaces in the city center. The solution was leave off 10 feet on one end of the bridge. This left the main pick tight but doable. They coordinated with the project team so installing the last 10 feet would take place with minimal public obtrusion. Because most of the work was performed off site, transportation and logistics became the primary challenge of the project. The massive bridge elements were hauled from the fabricator in Memphis to the site in Arlington, accompanied during the entire two-day journey by police escort. Assembly started in October 2018 after a year of planning. The variable cross sections of the bridge meant that there would have to be multiple different approaches to temporary support. At various points, the site team used multiple cranes and shoring systems to move the bridge pieces into position. By February 15, 2019, the bridge was fully assembled and all approvals were obtained. The bridge then had to be moved from the assembly site in the park to its final location, but the odd geometry complicated the logistics of transporting a frame that did not fit neatly on a trailer. The assembled bridge covered a 30-foot-wide path, but a trailer that wide could not make the turns on the third-of-a-mile trip from the assembly yard to the job site. After considering numerous trailer configurations, the team opted to use multi-axle Goldhofer trailer with custom-engineered support beams. Lift planning involved accurate assessment of the center of gravity to move and rig the unusually shaped load. Two cranes set the bridge on the Goldhofer in an orientation that perfectly distributed the weight while many feet hung off both sides and the back of the trailer. The Goldhofer trailer was custom configured with 16 modular trailer units, yielding 1 million-pound capacity, which more than met the requirements of the load. Williams used an Oshkosh M1070 truck from Army surplus, a formidable workhorse used to haul heavy tanks through the desert, to pull the cargo to its destination. Only three truckloads of steel were permitted for delivery each day at the site located near a residential neighborhood.


A custom configured Goldhofer provided a way to transport a load with a complex geometry.

To make the move, the team had to address one more obstacle — traffic signals and light poles that did not have sufficient clearance to allow the 30-foot-high rig to pass under. From previous heavy hauling experience, Williams Steel Erection knew it was possible to have utilities temporarily relocated the night of the haul. As the bridge travelled out of the park and down the street to its final location, hundreds of spectators watched. Pieces of this size must be moved slowly and carefully, and completing the move safely demanded close coordination between every participant in the project. Once at the site, the final challenge was moving the bridge from the trailer to the piers with precious little room to maneuver. The next morning, a single 500-ton Liebherr LTM 1500 picked and placed the bridge on the piers. The project team achieved the goal of reducing the road closure time to just 48 hours. In the end, the extensive planning and experience that went into this exceptionally challenging project led to the safe and efficient completion of a high-profile structure that will be an iconic presence in Ballston for decades to come.

■ Empire Steel Gets Honorable Mention for Holocaust Museum Houston The $34M expansion of the Holocaust Museum Houston doubled the museum’s previous size. Designers created a bright and open three-story interior space to reflect the museum’s theme “From Darkness,

Light.” Empire Steel Erectors, L.P. received Honorable Mention for its role in the project. Among the challenges they faced were protecting and preserving the museum’s priceless artifacts in the midst of construction, and working within a very tight site. The new Bearing Witness Gallery enabled the museum to move two signature artifacts inside for the first time for protection from the elements ― a five-ton fishing boat used by Danish fishermen to help Jews escape to neutral territory in Sweden, and an authentic 10.5-ton German boxcar from 1942, like those used by the Nazi state to transport thousands of people to their death during the Holocaust. It was critical during the construction process to protect these massive and priceless exhibits while working within 8-10 feet of them. Empire Steel erected tiltwalls and Type A structural steel around the artifacts. The project was complicated by the site’s location in a residential neighborhood within a historic district with mature trees and heavy foot traffic. According to Field Superintendent Drew Heron, “We had limited lay down area available and very limited access to the worksite.” With minimal mobility for cranes, Empire created an erection plan that included three specialized cranes utilized during different phases of construction. Work hours were also restricted because of the proximity to a residential neighborhood, so only three truckloads of steel were permitted per day. Any missteps in delivery sequencing would have resulted in project delay. “Our Project Manager, Mike Gerica, provided incredible leadership and his team’s efforts to anticipate all the possible contingencies really kept us out in front of any unforeseen problems. Their foresight and professionalism were key components of our success,” said Heron. “We’re proud of our team and proud to have been associated with the expansion project because of the museum’s enormous significance to Houston and the whole country,” he said.

Empire Steel selected three different cranes for specific phases of construction to work around the limited room for crane mobility


Connector | SUMMER EDITION June 2020 | 31


By Rick Gehrke

Five Strategies to Develop Your Team for Today and Beyond

L&L Construction implements SEAA/NCCER Ironworker Training Program.


n the past, employee training mostly took place during the onboarding process. New hires were showered with information and expected to retain it well enough to apply it correctly on the job. Not surprisingly, this “spray and pray” method has proven less effective with time, as today’s learners experience the world visually and digitally. Learning programs that focus on reinforcement for continuous improvement are becoming the industry standard because of higher success rates. The most effective training programs rely on systematic processes of validation and reinforcement to ensure important concepts are understood, retained and practiced consistently. It is also important to look beyond the present and create sustainable programs that will help you develop future leaders. Following are five ways to elevate your training program.

1. Streamline training and use central reporting. Automating training is one way to standardize learning processes and content, especially when scaling for larger operations. Developing learning plans makes training more efficient. Learning plans can be tailored according to roles or departments, then assigned consistently for each new hire and used for ongoing reinforcement. Learning plans can empower workers by allowing them to “own” their training and development programs. One area that’s challenging to manage is compliance documentation. It’s critical to develop a central reporting system to track progress for each employee and to measure and document the effectiveness of training. Between changing operations, evolving regulations, high turnover, and often analog documentation methods, tracking training can be a chore. A computerized modular system can Rick Gehrke is senior EH&S consultant with Intertek Alchemy, which specializes in helping companies engage with their workforces to drive productivity and safety. While Intertek Alchemy's area of expertise is manufacturing and food processing, these principles also apply to construction. For information, visit This article is excerpted with permission from EHS Today. 32 | THE STEEL ERECTORS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

simplify documentation by capturing and storing data in the cloud for easy retrieval. This can make things easier for you, for example during an audit or an OSHA inspection.

2. Use shift huddle guides for more efficient meetings. Shift huddles, or toolbox talks, led by supervisors are an effective way to reiterate important training concepts and get everyone on the same page. However, not every supervisor is skilled at leading meetings or managing time. Many companies have found success using pre-determined shift huddle “guides.” Not only do they save time by providing supervisors with a blueprint, they help meetings stay on track and keep messaging consistent. For more mileage, multilingual guides can be used to reach everyone. Communications need to account for differences in language, culture and literacy.

3. Reinforce and repeat for best results. Studies show that up to 80% of training can be forgotten within the first 30 days unless it is reinforced. Workers are more likely to retain information that’s delivered continuously, and in short learning “bursts” or mini-lessons that reinforce major concepts introduced in training.

Another successful method for reinforcing training is behavior-based programs where workers observe and coach each other on the job, documenting instances of proper behavior and opportunities for correction.

4. Elevate training with one-on-one coaching. The most effective training involves some level of one-on-one coaching. Many regulations require formal observations; however, finding the time and keeping good records can be a challenge. Mobile apps can capture and document verification of correct practices, and track and manage corrective actions in the cloud. Resources from NCCER

5. Transform workers into leaders.

■ Virtual Training through NCCERconnect includes curriculum for Basic Safety, Construction Technology, Heavy Equipment Operations, Welding and more. ■ eTexts through VitalSource allow students to highlight, make notes and other features. ■ Construction Site Safety program is a comprehensive standards safety program that deals with site-specific hazards. ■ Leadership training for managers incudes Construction Workforce Development, Fundamentals of Crew Leadership, Mentoring for Craft Professionals, Project Management, and Project Supervision. Learn more at

Management should also create programs that prepare frontline workers for leadership. Always keep succession plans in mind, and make sure that your senior people are transferring their hardwon knowledge to the new guard who will eventually take their places. Often we promote our best workers to supervisor and management positions, yet after weeks on the new job, juggling unfamiliar tasks such as managing former peers and dealing with compliance paperwork, they become overwhelmed. When frustration rises, they underperform or throw in the towel. Be sure to invest in formal, high-quality leadership training for your new leaders. As older generations retire it’s essential to get new leadership prepared in advance. What many of these new supervisors soon discover is while they may be well-versed in executing day-to-day operations on the floor, they don’t possess the skills necessary to lead successful teams. Strong supervisors must know how to communicate and exude confidence that instills trust in their teams. Be mindful of the difference between management and leadership. We manage things, and lead people. Two great books to help you develop a leadership training program are The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle: How to Become a Servant Leader by James C Hunter, and Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

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When will construction return to normal? Given assumptions about the coronavirus flattening and macroeconomic assumptions, Dodge Data & Analytics predicts commercial construction starts to start to return to normal in Q4 and “forging ahead in 2021,” said Richard Branch, the construction data group’s chief economist. “We are expecting that there will be a Phase 4 stimulus program. There’s strong support for infrastructure spending as well.” — Richard Branch, chief economist with Dodge Data & Analytics to webinar attendees on April 9.

Meet New Members

1 in 3 U.S. Bridges Needs Repair or Replacement According to the 2020 Bridge Report produced by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, more than one third (37%) of U.S. bridges—nearly 231,000 spans—need repair work. More than 46,000 bridges are rated in poor condition and classified as structurally deficient.

Cost of Bridge Work by Type of Repair, in Billion $ Bridge replacement Rehabilitation Widening & rehabilitation

Check out the Member Directory at

Gulf Coast Rebar, Tampa, Fla., provides rebar installation for commercial projects, including conventional bridges, buildings, water treatment plants, structural steel, Nelson studs, and civil construction.

Atlantic Installers, Cherry Hill, N.J., specializes in the installation, maintenance, and repair of industrial storage equipment for warehouses, and manufacturing and distribution facilities. Canal City Industrial, Streetsboro, Ohio, provides steel product installation, primarily in the commercial construction industry for steel suppliers.

Other structural work Deck rehabilitation/replacement

17% $28.5

34% $56.1

27% $43.6 17% $27.7

5% $8.4



Certified Slings, Inc., Casselberry, Fla., provides rigging, overhead lifting, load securement and contractor supplies as well as manufacturing, distribution and service solutions.

Kinsley Construction Inc., York, Pa., is a full-service construction management and general contracting firm operating mainly in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.

CSD Structural Engineers, Milwaukee, Wis., provides expertise in structural engineering and building design services to a variety of clients including designers, building owners, developers, contractors, manufacturers and architects.

Pewag Chain/Terrier Lifting Clamps, Bolingbrook, Ill., is a global chain manufacturer whose primary product lines are traction chains, industrial chains and tire-protection-chains.

Evolution Safety Resources, Raleigh, N.C., develops customized safety programs, and offers safety-related services such as on-site staffing, safety training, regulatory compliance, and safety auditing.

Training Directory Safety & Training Award Profiles Welding


J & H Erectors, Buffalo, Minn., is a union commercial steel erection company.

Pro Steel Erectors II, Inc., Glendale, Ariz., is a full-service structural steel erector specializing in commercial, industrial, and public construction.

Fall Edition: September 2020 Ad Deadline: Aug. 14, 2020


our common interest

“We are large enough to meet all of your insurance needs, yet small enough to appreciate your business and provide personal service.”

Supporting the Steel Erectors Association of America and Promoting a Safe Work Culture! We offer the following coverages: General Liability, Property, Auto, Umbrella, Inland Marine (Equipment), Workers’ Compensation, Professional Liability, D&O, Health and Life Insurance.

7896 Donegan Drive, Manassas, VA 20109 • (703) 257-7540 • (800) 553-8359