Walbridge Receives Construction Star Award for Workplace Safety and Health Excellence

Contact: Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

September 16, 2011 - Walbridge received its second Michigan Voluntary Protection Program for Construction (MVPPC) Star Award, the state's highest workplace safety and health award, today from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA). The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

"It is a pleasure to recognize Walbridge for continuing to demonstrate a company culture that promotes management commitment, employee involvement and a desire to excel in providing workplace protections," said LARA Deputy Director Steve Arwood. "This second award exemplifies the successful efforts by employees, management, and government in partnering for excellence in workplace safety and health."

Walbridge is the first construction company to qualify for the MVPPC Star Award. The MVPPC Star Award is presented to worksites that provide exemplary workplace protection for their workers. Walbridge received its first Star Award for the Couzens Hall renovation project on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in September 2010. After a successful conclusion to the Couzens Hall project, it was recommended the company receive a second Star Award for its outstanding safety program and practices at the Alice Lloyd Hall renovation project, also at the University.

"When we construct for the University, it's our responsibility and our mission to ensure our employees and construction partners make safety a top priority," said Richard J. "Rick" Haller, President and Chief Operating Officer for Walbridge. "That's not just on day one of a project, but every day."

MIOSHA Director Doug Kalinowski presented the MVPPC Star Award to Rick Haller, who accepted on behalf of all employees. Hank Baier, Associate Vice President, Facilities & Operations, represented the University of Michigan. Employees and guests attended the presentation and luncheon.

Alice Lloyd Hall is currently undergoing major renovation of more than 176,000 square feet of housing space for 560 students. The Alice Lloyd Hall and Couzens Hall projects are part of the University's Residential Life Initiatives (RLI) program, which is a long-range plan for improving facilities to enhance student life and learning in on-campus housing.

Walbridge is overseeing repairs and updates to the building infrastructure, including new fire detection and suppression systems, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems, renovated bath facilities, improvements to Internet access, and accessibility modifications.

"The University is fully committed to operating safely at all times and we applaud Walbridge for its emphasis on safety and health," said Baier. "We value their purposeful approach and the way they hold themselves and their subcontractors accountable."

The MVPPC program recognizes the specialized work conducted by contractors and subcontractors. To qualify for the Star Award on a fixed-base project, companies must be in business at least three years, have a history of successful partnering with MIOSHA, show a superior commitment to safety and proof of outstanding programs, and have injury and illness rates at or below the national average in a very hazardous industry.

In evaluating Walbridge's safety and health program at the Lloyd Hall project, the MIOSHA review team − Doug Kimmel, Team Leader; and Sheila Ide, CET Supervisor − confirmed that the company had written programs and procedures in place that demonstrated a superior commitment to safety. MIOSHA conducts interviews with company management, Walbridge health and safety personnel, and subcontractors and their employees. It also conducts unscheduled inspections of subcontractors working at the project site.

Areas of excellence include:

  • Fall protection required for all employees working at a height of six feet and above. This requirement applies to everyone at the site, including iron workers. 
  • Signage - safety posters, banners, and signs - are posted at the shop trailer and in several locations throughout the jobsite. 
  • An attendant working with a crane operator is required to blow a whistle prior to the crane moving to warn employees of the impending action. 
  • Pre-Task Analysis (PTA) - A PTA involves identifying the basic tasks of a job, determining any existing or potential hazards associated with each of the tasks, and then developing recommendations for eliminating or controlling each of those hazards. 
  • Daily safety huddles (three per day) allow employees the opportunity to evaluate their work processes, ask questions about new work processes, and identify hazards immediately if encountered during their work. 
  • Exploratory demolition for asbestos-containing materials that were not identified in the building survey. This practice prevents accidental disturbance of asbestos-containing materials.

"National VPP sites experience 60 to 80 percent less lost work day injuries than would be expected of an average site in their industry," said Kalinowski. "Not only does the MVPPC program significantly reduce injuries and illnesses - it also has a tremendous impact on the bottom line."

Walbridge is a privately held, top-50 construction company founded in Detroit in 1916. The company offers construction management, design-build, engineering management, general contracting, pre-construction, program management and turnkey solution services. It also self-performs concrete, equipment installation and facility management services. Walbridge employs 600 professionals in offices located in North America, South America and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.walbridge.com.

At the University of Michigan, Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) plans and manages the design and construction of new facilities, additions, renovations, and utility and infrastructure improvements. By managing the design and construction of campus projects, AEC assures that all projects will be completed in accordance with University and State of Michigan criteria for quality design including economics of construction and operation. For more information on the Lloyd Hall project, visit: http://www.umaec.umich.edu/projects/P00003883/index.html. 

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