Christman and MIOSHA Sign First Partnership Agreement in West Michigan to Promote Worker Safety at Michigan Street Development Project in Grand Rapids

Contact: Lori Donlan 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Zero-Injury Safety Goal Highlights Partnership Endorsed by Over 50 Organizations
on $200 Million Construction Project

January 26, 2007 - Today, The Christman Company joined with the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG), the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) and more than 50 employers and supporting organizations to sign a historic partnership agreement that will promote the safety and health of workers on a major West Michigan construction project.

Christman is both development partner and construction manager on the $200 million Michigan Street Development Project, a unique public/private medical complex project located on the Michigan Street Hill in downtown Grand Rapids. The four-tower complex, a strategic economic growth project for the City of Grand Rapids and West Michigan's emerging life science corridor, is ultimately expected to help create about 2,000 healthcare jobs.

"Christman is one of Michigan's premier contractors and has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to promoting safety on its projects," said DLEG Director Robert W. Swanson. "This project, both during and after, will have a major impact on Michigan's economy-while all partners combine their efforts to help prevent injuries on the project. Christman has once again displayed its expertise and safety leadership by pursuing this ‘first ever' partnership in West Michigan."

The construction industry is one of the most hazardous industries in Michigan. Only about four percent of Michigan's workforce is employed in construction-however, construction fatalities account for nearly 50 percent of all fatal workplace accidents. All partners are committed to creating an environment where every construction worker goes home healthy and whole every day.

"Safety is a top priority at Christman and we want every worker to return to his or her home and family safely each day, "said Don Staley, corporate safety manager for Christman. "We are pleased and proud that virtually every organization involved in this project is not only philosophically embracing the ideal vision of a zero-injury workplace-but also agreeing to support the tactical action plans outlined in this agreement to help make it happen."

Partnerships are an important emphasis in MIOSHA's Strategic Plan to improve the health and safety of workers through cooperative relationships with groups, including trade associations, labor organizations, and employers. Partnerships move away from traditional enforcement methods and embrace collaborative agreements.

"The MIOSHA program is dedicated to working with employers to find innovative ways to enhance workplace safety and health," said DLEG Acting Deputy Director Doug Kalinowski. "Through partnerships, MIOSHA can offer employers a voluntary, cooperative relationship to help eliminate serious hazards and achieve a high level of safety and health. We commend Christman for their leadership bringing together over 50 organizations to promote and support safety on this project."

The Michigan Street Development safety partnership agreement states, in part: "The active integration of the Christman project-specific safety and health program with this partnership will endorse the ultimate goal of zero injuries." Further: "The partners agree to establish a partnership based on mutual respect and trust that leverages the resources of all the parties through the systematic anticipation, identification, evaluation, and control of health and safety hazards present in the Michigan Street Development project."

Some of the elements of the partnership include: 

  • Mandatory attendance at a project safety orientation, which includes project overview, project specific safety video and testing at completion of session. 
  • 100 percent MIOSHA compliant fall protection plans to be implemented by each trade contractor for work over six (6) feet. 
  • Hardhats and safety glasses required 100 percent of the time while working on the site. 
  • All tower crane operators will be Certified Crane Operators (CCO), as recognized by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). 
  • Mandatory post-accident substance abuse testing. 
  • No smoking or tobacco use on the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Center portion of the project site. 
  • A progressive discipline action plan will be enforced by Christman and partnering employers. Intentional disregard of any safety rule, procedure or other important safety expectation of the project will result in immediate removal from the project site.

The partnership does not preclude MIOSHA from enforcing its mission of addressing complaints, fatalities, or serious accidents, nor does it infringe on the rights of employees to report workplace hazards.

Partnering employers signatory to the agreement include Christman Constructors, Inc.; Christman Concrete Industrial Floors, LLC; Grand River Construction; Allied Mechanical Services, Inc.; Applied Handling, Inc.; Andy J. Egan Company, Inc.; Architectural Glass & Metals, Inc.; Architectural Metals, Inc.; Brigade Fire Protection; Burggrabe Masonry, Inc.; Contract Specialties, Inc.; Dykema Excavators; Fence Consultants of West Michigan; Feyen Zylstra, LLC; Fountain Technologies, LTD; H&H Painting Company, Inc.; Harder & Warner, Inc.; Kiewit Construction Company; Lynn Masonry; Modern Roofing, Inc.; NES - Traffic Safety; Overhead Door Co. of Grand Rapids; Otis Elevator; Pioneer Construction; Pro Line Painters, LLC; Ritsema Associates; SA Morman; Schindler Elevator Corporation; Schnabel Foundation Company; Sobie Company; Steel Supply & Engineering Co.; The Bouma Corporation; Traffic & Safety Control; Van Dam Iron Works; Van Haren Electric, Inc.; Van Dellen Steel, Inc.; Vos Glass; Van Laan Concrete Construction, Inc.; Western Waterproofing; Worksmart, Inc.

Supporting partners signatory to the agreement include Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Inc., Western Michigan Chapter; AGC Mid-Michigan Chapter; Accident Fund Insurance Company of America; Carl Walker, Inc.; City of Grand Rapids; Curtain Wall Design & Consulting, Inc.; Fleis & Vandenbrink Engineering, Inc.; Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan State University; Robert Darvas Associates PC; RDV Corp.; Sims Moelich Associates, LTD; Spectrum Health; Soil and Materials Engineers, Inc.; URS Corporation; and Van Andel Institute.

"The connection of this major project to our very busy Butterworth Campus mandates that the health and safety of the workers and others affected by this project be the highest priority," said Bill Rietscha, Spectrum Health vice president of facilities. "We commend Christman and MIOSHA for developing this innovative partnership to help ensure the well-being of all involved, and are proud to be among its supporting partners."

The Michigan Street Development project, recently named the "Newsmaker of the Year" by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, will ultimately include a medical office, academic and research facility consisting of roughly 740,000 s.f. in four buildings, and a 2,300 space, four-story parking deck. The project is located on Michigan Street between Division Avenue and Coit Street.

Now underway is the $100 million first phase consisting of the four-story parking structure, the approximately 280,000 s.f. Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, and the "25 Michigan Street" building, a seven-story medical building likely to contain a hotel on the upper floors. A second phase will include the recently announced Michigan State University West Michigan Medical School expansion, with the fourth building to be completed in a final phase scheduled for completion in 2010. Potential plans for the remaining spaces include medical office, technology, laboratory and other research space.

The Christman Company ( is a full service construction services firm, offering construction management, general contracting, design/build services, and real estate development. Founded in 1894, Christman has grown to become one of the Midwest's leading construction firms, serving the healthcare, educational, historic restoration, industrial, institutional, and other commercial market sectors.

With over 180 employees in full-service offices in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Traverse City, Michigan, as well as Alexandria, Virginia, Christman is presently managing a wide range of construction projects. Christman's safety programs were recently honored with the MIOSHA Gold Award for more than 2.1 million hours worked without a lost-time accident as well as the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America's first-ever "Policyholder of the Year" award for an exemplary low claims record out of 45,000 workers compensation insurance policyholders.

Read more Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth press releases.