Sobering Facts for Construction Safety Day

construction site fatalitiesHappy “Construction Safety Day” everyone!  James White of Maxwell Systems, has shared with me an infographic showing all sorts of data about construction fatalities.

As you might expect,  falls are the #1 source of construction-site fatalities, followed by being struck by falling objects, electrocution, and being caught between objects, in that order.  Together, these “fatal four” make up 57% of all construction worker deaths.

To view the complete infographic, click here.

Thanks, James, for the sobering reminder.

Cozy up with some good Construction Blogs (and a favor)

If you haven’t already, check out some of the blogs on my Blogroll.  These are other construction law writers from around the United States.  Even if they are not writing for your jurisdiction, most of the information is relevant to readers from any state- or indeed, for readers from many other countries.

In addition to the Blogroll, you can find a plethora of well-written, topical blogs in this year’s “Best Construction Blog” contest run by Construction Marketing Magazine, founded by Mark Buckshon.   Mark’s company is also responsible for publication of the North Carolina Construction News, which is on my “to read” list and should be on yours.

vote signAnd yes, if you think I have ulterior motives, I do.  This blog is one of the contestants, so if you feel so inclined to vote, please consider including this blog among your votes.  (In the alphabetized list, under “C”, “Construction Law in North Carolina,” which is the 14th from the top.

You can vote for multiple blogs, and I encourage you to do so as there are many good contenders this year.  The contest is open until the end of the month.  Happy reading & happy voting!

Recycling Your Construction Site: 5 Materials that Can Be Reused to Save Money (guest post)

Today’s guest post is  contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from You can reach her at: m.hatter12 @ gmail. com.  Read on to find out how those scraps and remainders could, in a pinch, turn into some cold hard cash.


During the construction project, there are a variety of materials that are simply tossed in the dumpster that can be re-purposed for other uses or used to enhance a last minute idea.  As you perform construction observation, take note: there could be tons of this material that can be used to save a great deal of money, if you know what you’re looking at. What recyclable materials are available on a construction site that can be reused later?

1. Wood - A lot of scrap wood is discarded during any given construction. While some of these pieces can be simply too small or odd-shaped to be of any real use, other pieces might be a perfect shape for other smaller projects. Frames, odd angle cuts, small pet doors, stairs, and a variety of other wooden uses can be created with this material that you may find yourself tossing in the dumpster. In any event, you could simply sell it by the pound to those who wish to burn or otherwise use the material which could recuperate some of the expenses of building the structure.
scrap wood
2. Drywall - Given the nature of renovations or new constructs, it is quite common place to have sections of drywall that are too small for a complete wall, but they could be used to patch holes or fit into smaller areas in other locations. As long as you can keep the drywall from experiencing moisture, it can be held for quite a long time before it is reused elsewhere.

3. Glass - If you’re planning a renovation project, keep in mind that securing the old windows can help you down the road in future projects. As long as the glass is intact, it can be cut down to fit a variety of other situations which could help save you a great deal of money on your next project. Although storing these pieces of glass may be a sensitive ordeal, the benefits could outweigh the risk as some plates of glass could be as much as $100 and up for each piece.

4. Concrete - Whether you are laying a new foundation or renovating a location, you could accumulate a great deal of wasted concrete. Although recycling concrete can help reduce the amount of waste in landfills, you can use pieces of this material to assist in other applications. Bits of concrete can be used to add stability to pipes and conduits that run underground, for example.

5. Copper - Not only does the wiring within a location contain copper, but pipes contain this metal as well. In some areas, recyclers will pay as much as $3 per pound for copper. In renovations or new developments, some of your expenses can be reimbursed by recycling copper. If you projects don’t produce a lot of waste from the metal, there is nothing that says you can’t simply save a collection of it until it becomes worthwhile to take to a recycler.

You don’t have to be a member of Green Peace in order to see the value of re-purposing or recycling materials from a construction site. There is a great deal of usefulness from these bits and pieces that can save you a great deal of money later on. The next time you walk a building site, take a look around prior to clean-up and determine what can help save money later.

Thanks Madoline for your thoughts. 

Your turn: ever recoup expenses through recycling or re-purposing construction debris?  Share in the comments, below.


Photo credit


Why One World Trade Center is the World’s Most Expensive Project (guest post)

One World Trade CenterToday, we have a *very* informative guest post by Mike Freiberg.  Mike is a staff writer for HomeDaddys, a resource for stay-at-home dads, work-at-home dads, and everything in between. He’s a handyman, an amateur astronomer, and a tech junkie, who loves being home with his two kids. He lives in Austin.

It isn’t the biggest, or the flashiest—but it’s definitely the priciest

The new One World Trade Center (or Freedom Tower)  has been a difficult project to get moving since it was announced nearly twelve years ago. Numerous architects and dozens of possible designs were considered, and ultimately scrapped, as the project underwent one reinvention after another. The project was finally completed May 10th of this year, rising to a symbolic 1,776 feet, and running up a bill of just under $4 billion—making it (by far) the most expensive skyscraper ever built.

For comparison, the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world, dwarfs One WTC by over 1,000 feet, and is much more lavishly appointed—but was built for less than half the price ($1.5 billion). So where did One World Trade Center’s nearly $4 billion price tag come from?

The world’s first fortress skyscraper

The Freedom Tower designers had to juggle several competing priorities. The tower shouldered a heavy rhetorical burden, as a symbol of fortitude and resilience—but it also had to meet the pragmatic needs of a global financial hub on an extremely valuable piece of real estate. It was a tall order; but by far the most expensive and challenging aspect of Freedom Tower’s design was security—demonstrating that the lessons of the 9/11 attacks would be taken seriously.

From the exterior, One World Trade Center looks like any other skyscraper. Inside, though, it’s built like a tank—and incorporating (and concealing) these features was the greatest source of cost overruns during the tower’s seven-year build. Here are a few of the most impressive innovations.

A towering concrete base

Unlike most skyscrapers, One World Trade Center is set on a 20-story, windowless podium of highly reinforced concrete, built to withstand a 1,500 lb. truck bomb of the type used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. When completed, the podium will be sheathed in prismatic glass to conceal the blast walls. The podium uses 720,000 cubic feet of “iCrete”, an expensive designer concrete mixture capable of withstanding 14,000 pounds per square inch of pressure—nearly three times the compressive strength of normal high-rise concrete.

A colossal air-quality apparatus

While the exterior is fortified against explosions and impact, designers also considered the threat of biological and chemical attacks, as well as fire, sparing no expense for One World Trade Center’s internal air system. Each stairwell is composed of reinforced concrete, with a separate, pressurized air supply to keep them operational in the event of an emergency.

The building is also dotted with biological and chemical filters and detectors, as well as ventilation shafts that can quickly expel contaminants as soon as they are detected.

Fortified, secure elevator shafts

One World Trade Center’s elevators are encased in three feet of concrete, and serve as an internal “spine” for the building, to prevent collapse in the event that the steel exoskeleton gives way (as it did in the September 11th attacks). The tower contains 71 elevators, none of which have buttons—instead, the car identifies each passenger, and will only bring them to the floor for which they are authorized, at an impressive 23 miles per hour. It remains to be seen how smoothly this system will operate—the building will open late this year.

An integrated security and safety network

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Freedom Tower will feature over 400 closed-circuit surveillance cameras, networked security doors, temperature and air quality monitors, and automated elevators connected via a huge web of shielded communications cables. Security teams will have a constant stream of richly-detailed status reports from across the building, so that even minor problems like electrical failures or a buzzing smoke detector reach security instantaneously. Early on, this security grid will also incorporate airport-style checkpoints and electrified fencing on the tower grounds, but those measures will be phased out after several months of normal operation.

Of course, these mammoth security expenses have been highly controversial—what seems like an appropriate symbol of vigilance to some, manifests paranoia to others—but however you interpret them, it’s not all that surprising that One World Trade Center is now the world’s most expensive skyscraper.

Thanks, Mike, for the detailed information on the newest symbol in the NYC skyline. 

What do you think about the Freedom Tower?  Is it money well spent?  Over-engineered to death?  Share in the comments section, below.


LEED Lasts in Latest NC Bill (news note)

stack of woodAs many of you may be aware, the North Carolina legislature was considering a bill that would effectively take away the option of LEED certification for public projects.  In a misguided effort to protect the NC timber industry, the original bill would essentially take away the option of using LEED for public projects.

Thanks to the strong potests from many industry groups, and the great coverage of the issue by Bob Kruhm and the folks at his paper NC Construction News, the NC Senate passed an amended version of House Bill 628 on Monday night that retains the option of LEED certifciation for State construction projects.  Read the full story here.  [For the original bill and other versions, click here].


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