As the New NY Bridge begins to rise from the surface of the Hudson River, the New York State Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) are working together to ensure their growing construction team meets the very highest standards for workplace safety.
At a project-wide meeting in late October, the leadership team unveiled a new initiative entitled “Get a Grip, Don’t Slip”, to reinforce the importance of proper worksite access and ladder safety. Thruway Project Director Peter Sanderson outlined the team’s commitment to instilling a culture of safety at all levels. TZC Safety Director Jim Sixsmith, who leads the Get a Grip initiative, detailed a number of specific, practical ways to reduce risk for workers out on the river as winter weather approaches.
The project’s increasingly vertical operations, from recently-raised 40-foot pier columns to the 419-foot cable-stayed towers, require Thruway and TZC personnel to work from greater heights more frequently than during the first year of construction. The enormous size of the equipment and materials on the project site, such as the I Lift NY super crane, underscore the need to prioritize safety measures.
With construction taking place largely on floating platforms and newly-formed foundations, simply getting to the work site can be a challenge. Ladders and gangways (raised walkways) enable team members to gain access, but they present inherent hazards such as tripping or falling. Working over water adds another element of danger, as river turbulence, high winds, rain, sleet and snow can make safe passage even more challenging.
Falls are a leading cause of injury on construction sites and misuse of ladders is a chief reason why workers fall. Get a Grip, Don’t Slip underscores straightforward, effective practices workers must employ when working on ladders and gangways. These include the mandatory use of gloves at all times; maintaining three points of contact, such as two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet; the correct angles for setting ladders and gangways; and keeping access areas clear of construction materials. “Always plan the work, work the plan” is one of the project team’s mottos.
After the safety meeting, New NY Bridge Project Deputy Safety Director Jon Hilgeman said, “One of the shared goals we have with TZC is to come to work each day and do whatever we can to help ensure that workers go home to their families at the end of the day. We come back to work the next day and do it again. Safety is our number one priority.”
Enormous time and effort are devoted to training the men and women on the New NY Bridge project to be the safest in the construction industry, including rigorous mandatory safety training. Special efforts like Get a Grip, Don’t Slip drive home specific aspects of the overall safety program for all workers on the New NY Bridge.