New York, NY – Once again, the benefits of working with unionized contractors have proven to go beyond the typical safety protocols in the Building Trades. Although hopes are high that the vaccination process will spread as quickly as the coronavirus itself, the task of vaccinating the entire country is proving to be extremely problematic. Nevertheless, hope and help appear to be forthcoming.
Still, it would be a mistake to view our safety protocols with a false sense of security. There is still much to learn about the vaccination process. There are those who remain unwilling or unsure about getting the two-part vaccine. Some fear that people who receive the first round of shots will either forget, or fail to follow through with a necessary second injection. In either case, with 2021 underway, and the political landscape in flux, the pandemic is still cause for major concern.
As we all know, site safety is crucial when it comes to helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, some unorganized trades adhere to somewhat loose and ineffective protocols, leading to project-wide infections and furthering the spread of the coronavirus.
In Contrast, organized Building Trades, such as those working with Buch Construction, have chosen to use an interesting and paperless system. This system is a handsfree check-in for all workers entering the job site. Upon entry, workers must scan the QR code with their cell phone using the phone’s camera application. This takes the worker to an online questionnaire. Should any of the answers fail to meet the appropriate criteria, the worker will be directed to leave the worksite and seek appropriate medical attention and testing before returning to work. Additionally, all workers have their temperatures taken upon entry. Masks are worn. People stay safe.
This all sounds pretty standard. However, as a witness and a columnist, it is my responsibility to report that there are job sites that fail to adhere to basic safety procedures. There are some trades that allow for too much slack in their safety measures. Whether this is due to a lack of leadership, organization, or proper training, I have seen it first hand. Hence, this has led to Covid outbreaks in construction spaces and caused expensive delays and job shutdowns. In no way is this to suggest that all non-union trades have totally disregarded health and safety regulations. However, as a building engineer with over 22 years of experience, the jobs that were stopped or interrupted by the Department of Buildings were all due to safety infractions on non-union or unorganized construction sites.
When asked about their protocol, Buch Construction Superintendent Jim Lauri simply told me, “This is how we run all of our jobs.”
The main idea is to put the virus behind us. When asked about the mood and the need to keep his sanity and positive attitude during these troubling times, Lauri talked about his private life and personal achievements. He’s a baseball coach and a scout leader. The standard Jim provides is clear: how we do one thing is how we do all things. Once more, proving that organization and professionalism are not only Union Strong responsibilities, but also a way of life.
Thanks for the lesson, Jim. It was a pleasure to see the way you work.
Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on thewrittenaddiction.com, a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org