One of the oldest, most highly respected consumer goods companies in the world built its brand reputation on ensuring the safety of its products and of the people who use them. In keeping with this strongly held value, this global enterprise was determined to partner with a construction systems provider that would put an equal emphasis on jobsite safety during erection of a large portfolio of manufacturing facilities, each approximately 350,000sf in size.
Promoting on-the-job safety and mitigating risk is an understandable expectation for any multinational corporation (MNC). But it’s also difficult to achieve, especially in developing countries where safety standards are lax at best, or at worst, non-existent.
Adding to the challenge, the coordination of the facilities construction involved technical collaboration and synchronous management of a truly global team:
- The project design team was located in Guangzhou, China.
- The architectural firm was in Cincinnati with the lead architect stationed in England.
- The engineering firm of record operated out of both London and Belgrade, Serbia.
- The manufacturer was headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri.
- The General Contractor resided in Wiesbaden, Germany.
- And, in some countries, a local firm was hired to perform the erection work.
Obviously, success of the complex project hinged on efficient management of all disciplines and resources. An equally crucial piece was establishment of project-wide safety measures and procedures. To accomplish both of these objectives, the consumer goods conglomerate chose Butler Manufacturing™, a building solutions provider with extensive experience in global design-build construction.
Managing safety involves insistence on strict practices and procedures
To keep the structural design on track, Butler® Corporate Accounts Manager–Special Projects, Dave Sternecker recounted, “We held weekly conference calls with our folks in Guangzhou, as well as taking numerous trips for face-to-face meetings to coordinate design and safety requirements. The entire team also held several design review meetings in Wiesbaden and Belgrade for the purpose of coordination between trades. Since a systems construction solution was new to the GC, several ‘constructability workshops’ in Wiesbaden were held to explain and familiarize the team with Butler building safety and engineered-systems products. In addition, Owen Wilson, Butler Lead Global Products Coordinator, planned the entire erection sequencing, combined with on-the-ground assembly and lifting, to further diminish any risk of injury.”
Protecting workers from falls or falling objects during construction
A Butler patented safety solution, the Sky-Web® fall protection system, was selected for this project. This innovative, nylon mesh netting system is installed to the secondary structural members between a roof’s perimeter edges during building shell construction. The Sky-Web system protects against serious falls from occurring when working at heights, and protects workers, below, from being struck by dropped tools or materials. An added value of Sky-Web is that it is designed to remain in place after construction to support the roof insulation – serving dual purposes.
Avoiding unnecessary accidents by keeping things grounded
“We employed a modular construction approach to encourage steel assembly to be performed on the ground, rather than in the air,” Sternecker explained. “Structural members were first bolted together at ground level and then raised as a unit (some as large as 24m x 24m) into place by cranes. This also allowed other trades to attach sprinkler piping, junction boxes, conduit, lights, cable trays, and more to the steel structure while it was ground level, instead of 30–50 feet up in the air.
With a modular process and project sequencing, materials are containerized and delivered to the site in the exact order needed. “Crews were astonished when they opened our first shipping containers,” Sternecker recalled. “They were accustomed to opening containers only to find materials scattered around inside. They were also used to a difficult, time-consuming process of sorting and pulling beams, columns, and other elements out of the container one at a time.” This added to the risk of steel members falling on someone as they were being pulled out.”
“By comparison, with our process, each container came with a detailed shipping list that indicated exactly what items were inside, and building members were stacked neatly and strapped to a skid, which was then removed from the container with a forklift.”
Employing the right tools is an overlooked safety precaution
In order to insure proper installation of components, Butler supplied all the tools required to properly erect the structure. That’s because it is not uncommon on international projects to see site fabricated tools or other “work-around instruments” used to erect the steel, which are both inefficient or unsafe. Butler product consultants also remained on site during the building erection to ensure all procedures were properly followed.
After the initial project completion, Butler was able to replicate, expand and adapt the same process improvements as construction moved from Nigeria to China, Indonesia, Pakistan, and other global locations. It’s important to note that, throughout it all, the construction process was extremely efficient, and more importantly, not a single, serious accident was reported.