EVENT: 2020 Lessons Learned from PA Safety Directors

A Zoom webinar titled “2020 Lessons Learned from Pennsylvania Safety Directors” will be held virtually on Tuesday, January 26 at 3:00 PM.

2020 was a year like none other. The commercial construction industry had to change the way it operates to keep its workers safe. Hear from safety directors from across Pennsylvania as they share lessons learned and look ahead to 2021.

The esteemed panel features:

  • Darren Rech of Alexander Building Construction Company
  • Don Tracey of Quandel Construction
  • Mike Penrod of Rycon Construction
  • Tom Scott of McClure Company
  • Moderated by Bob McCall of the Master Builders’ Association

To register please email the Keystone Contractors Association (SethKohr@KeystoneContractors.com).

Building PA Podcast Season 1, Episode 13: Building a Safety Culture at Leibold Inc.

Introduction: When I was hired at the Keystone Contractors Association, I explained how 90% of my construction contacts are Pittsburgh-based and I would welcome being introduced to others in the industry located around Pennsylvania.  KCA Board of Director Dave Jones of Cresswell Brothers was one of the first to offer help: “Hey Jon you should call Clayton Leibold.  He runs an impressive operation and places a strong emphasis on safety.” I’m glad Dave made that suggestion.  Clayton operates Leibold Inc., a mechanical contractor based in Pottsville, PA.  His company is highly respected in the industry due to its reliability, production and excellence in safety.  But how did Leibold come to be a safety-first operation? Listen to this Building PA Podcast interview to find out.

 

To listen to the entire interview visit: Building a Safety Culture at Leibold Inc.

Jon O’Brien (00:03):

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Building PA Podcast, a construction industry podcast taped and recorded right here in the great state of Pennsylvania for our wonderful construction industry. I am Jon O’Brien from the Keystone Contractors Association.

Chris Martin:

And I’m Chris Martin with Atlas Marketing, and we tell stories for people who build things.

Jon O’Brien:

Awesome. Good stuff. Hello, Chris, how are we doing today?

Chris Martin:

Hey, Jon, how are you doing today? I’m looking forward to our discussion today.

Jon O’Brien:

It should be fun. We’re talking safety today. We have a Clayton Leibold from Leibold Inc.. A fine mechanical contractor based in the great town of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Hello Clay.

Clayton Leibold (00:47):

Hello. How are you doing today?

Jon O’Brien (00:49):

Good. Doing great. Doing good. Well, you are joining us and we’re going to talk safety. And this is part of our safety podcast series we’re calling, Building a Safety Culture.  Your company has been a member now I believe three years, going on three years at the KCA, which is awesome. And during that time, your company has taken home two of the KCA safety awards for safest subcontractor under 50,000 man hours worked with, this is the important part, with zero injuries. So you’re going on a two year streak here, zero injuries. So who better to speak with concerning safety culture, then an award winning safety contractor that places a strong emphasis in the area safety. So welcome to the podcast. Yeah like I said, we’re gonna talk safety here. So you know, you want to touch on your company and just first off, maybe introduce yourself and your company and then we can kind of delve into the safety topic.

Clayton Leibold (02:07):

Sure, sure. So, as you mentioned my name is Clayton Leibold, the owner and president of Leibold Incorporated. We’re a full mechanical HVAC sheet metal and piping contractor located here in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. We are going on eight years in business. My company has been going to be in business for eight years here, but I personally have been in the construction industry and in the field for going on 24 years as a union pipe fitter. So that’s kinda my background. And then as I mentioned, my company was formed about eight years ago and we, you know, serve as all of, pretty much all of Pennsylvania and surrounding States. And we do, you know, emphasize safety as a very important part and aspect of our job and our day to day activities in, in the field.

Jon O’Brien (03:16):

Now, concerning safety, is something that was kind of instilled in you during your 24 years working in the field prior to starting your company?

Clayton Leibold (03:27):

Yeah, it was early on, I could tell that obviously safety is important in the field and it was kind of brought to our attention on a regular basis and we always strive to do things in the safest manner. As you know, going back 24 years, as it’s starting out as an apprentice, obviously you are learning every day and things and certain incidences come up and hopefully you learn from them and can grow and understand how things work, how and why safety is so important, especially in the construction industry, in our field with so many things that could happen you know, on the job site related to heavy objects, multiple things that can occur that we may or may not have control of.

Clayton Leibold (04:31):

So my foreman, project managers I feel did a good job from early on instilling the simple fact that safety is so important. And if you want to continue to do your job, be healthy and continue to be able to do the job that you’re wanting to do it in the proper correct manner. And just be aware of your surroundings and always have it on your mind and kinda remain, not get too laid back in your day to day activities.

Chris Martin (05:13):

Clayton with your experience and clearly you have some amazing experiences leading into this, but what do you see as the biggest challenge for not only the safety industry, but more importantly, the construction industry as it relates to safety?

Clayton Leibold (05:31):

Probably maybe overcoming the jobsite hurdles, the things that are constantly brought up and in the day to day active daily activities of being on site, your timelines are getting shorter and shorter. Things are being accelerated, whether whatever the reason maybe, but I think we all have to keep in mind that can’t compromise the safety of how the job is getting done. And the manner that you do it. So I would say the more recent trend maybe of trying to do as much work as possible in a very short timeframe you know, we just can’t, we can look past or beyond the fact of just doing it in a safe manner.

Chris Martin (06:30):

You know, the construction industry has a, we’ve been talking about it with clients on our end. And I know Jon and I have spoken about it multiple times, and that is a worker shortage. Are you finding that in the safety industry as well? Are you having a hard time finding qualified safety professionals?

Clayton Leibold (06:53):

You know not as hard as someone may think. It is I guess the fact that the construction industry is experiencing a shortage in some fields with us being a union mechanical construction company, we have a good source for competent well-trained individuals up and coming through our apprenticeship programs. So the good key individuals are there to be found. And we’ve had good luck with taking some key employees – foreman, project managers – and kind of molding them into good safety individuals. So, you know, it kind of worked out real well good for us because I feel they’re the best and most competent because we’re taking their field expertise and knowledge and just fine tuning that and molding them into a good safety individual to lead and lay the foundation for the rest of our company as far as the safety program goes

Jon O’Brien (08:17):

And concerning new hires. And when you bring someone on new, either in the field or a project manager is onboarding a challenge at all, as far as making sure that these new hires also believe in safety and they buy into the safety cultures. Is that a challenge at all with new people?

Clayton Leibold (08:40):

Yeah, it can be especially maybe the younger generation or someone that’s not had the experience of being in the field, seeing examples of how safety is so important and possibly not experiencing near misses or smaller accidents that might catch their attention. If they don’t have that knowledge and if they’re coming from a field or something, or straight out of maybe, you know college or high school that just don’t have the experience it is harder, but we just have to take the time to educate them and give them the proper paperwork, the information the protocol of how we operate as a company. And we just have to make sure they understand it and abide by it because it’s not going to be taken lightly. And that’s what I would expect from all my employees. So it’s something that needs to be done and done correctly, or it’s just not going to work out.

Jon O’Brien (09:55):

Yeah. And I’m getting to know your company more and more, you know, we’re a few hours apart, but I’m getting to know your company more. And it seems as though there’s a buy-in amongst your foreman and your top people in the field and in the office on safety, and I’m sure that’s extremely helpful when it comes to onboarding. Do you have any advice to other companies, like how do you get the buy-in or I don’t know if you can touch on that a little bit.

Clayton Leibold (10:23):

Sure, sure. It is difficult at times to make sure that everybody is buying in. It’s important to have the top guys in our safety program leading by example showing that their fellow employees have someone to take after, or look up to, or just bounce questions off of, or conditions of a job site maybe, or someone there to offer some advice or guidance if they would have questions. But as long as they’re there leading by example, getting the rest of the crews to buy in and understand, that’s a way of doing business, that’s the way that I want the culture of the company to be like. And you know, they’re there to make a point that we’re going to discuss safety on a weekly, even daily basis.

Clayton Leibold (11:28):

And that’s what is expected and it is gonna have to happen. And if you just keep driving home that point eventually they believe that it does make sense. And there is proof that it works obviously we’re winning some safety awards and are zero injuries in the field speaks to that so if they see the results and as the results are compounding and building we are on a, knock on wood, a pretty good streak here of not having any work injuries in over three years. So they see the results. And I think it’s easier for them to buy in and accept it as a way of the daily routine.

Chris Martin (12:30):

Yeah. It’s obviously no accident in three years. That’s a great run. And obviously the buy in is there. Also maybe touch on outside resources? I mean, do you reach outside the company to help with maybe training at all? You mentioned the unions, are they helpful at all?

Clayton Leibold (12:50):

Yeah. Yep. They’re very helpful. We belong to a couple different associations, similar to Keystone Contractors Association. We affiliated with SMACNA Sheet Metal Contractors Association, also the MCAA, the Mechanical Contractors Association, and they do offer a wealth of continued education, safety seminars, conferences you know on a regular basis. So we do lean towards them with providing additional valuable tools such as the toolbox talks, the guidelines, some additional safety information that we can implement and add to our portfolio. It cannot hurt to have too much information. You don’t want to keep repeating certain things or harp on certain conditions or aspects. It’s always good to mix it up a bit.

Jon O’Brien (13:58):

Do you have any advice, maybe you’d like to share with a young entrepreneur that wants to start out in industry advice, safety related obviously. There’s various pieces of advice you can give someone, but when it comes to starting a construction company, anything you’d like to share

Clayton Leibold (14:21):

I would say there’s no real, no good example where taking a shortcut in safety, whether it’s your employee, yourself, your fellow employees, or your coworkers, there’s no good reason to do any shortcuts that would compromise the safety of anyone. It would really benefit anyone and would certainly do more harm than good by possibly causing accidents. Whether, like I said, to yourself or to others just for the simple reason that it might be quicker to do a certain task, one way that may be a little bit more unsafe or whatever the reason may be. I just wouldn’t recommend any shortcuts or trying to compromise doing something in a safe way. I actually have had the experience where I had to make a tough call and tell my guys to pull off of a job just for the sole reason that it was unsafe. And it wasn’t a popular decision. The customer was not happy, but in the long run, after further explanation from my point of view, he understood it and ultimately was okay with it and then thanked me. So that’s just a brief example of doing something correctly to not compromise potentially unsafe condition.

Chris Martin (16:11):

Clayton, that’s a great example of safety first, not only for your company, for your employees, but also for the client and the fact that the client came back and said, thank you, hats off to you for that, because that just doesn’t happen that often. But, but my question to you is do you find that a lot of your clients aren’t really focused on safety?

Clayton Leibold (16:38):

You know, honestly I don’t, we don’t. We are finding even more and more of our customers and clients are gearing up and leaning more towards a much safer environment, working environment and job site conditions and working conditions and doing the certain tasks that we were hired to do in the most safe, the safest manner possible. So maybe it’s cause we have some pretty good customers and clients, but I do feel.

Clayton Leibold (17:12):

We definitely work in some very sensitive facilities where that the unsafe type of work is just not tolerated. So we can’t afford to do anything but the job, but do the job safely because we just won’t be working there any longer. So I’ve found that the more, I can honestly say most of our customers and clients expect us and hold us to a very high safety standard. And that’s probably one of the main reasons we continue to be safe is we, we also have that in the back of our minds that if we don’t do this the right way, we may not be working here, not only for my company, but at that facility anyway.

Jon O’Brien (18:06):

Right, right. And I think too, you know, to your point that the entire industry has obviously put a huge emphasis on safety over the last 20 to 30 years, at least, we’ve even seen it with our clients you know, working with trade unions and, and contractors that we go on photo shoots and we know we can’t take photography or video of certain elements because there has to be a certain safety functionality to it. If not, it shows the wrong story or gives the wrong message if you will. So I think you’re right. It’s a balance of everybody understanding how important safety is to move the industry forward and get out of the typical thoughts and perception of the industry itself. So I’m glad to hear that from both you and your company and your clients. That’s great. That’s great. Right? Yep. Kinda done a lot to me. We touched on a lot here today, Chris, any other questions or comments or to say Clayton thank you. This has been really enlightening. And hopefully we can ask you back in the future and we can talk more about safety as it relates, not only to your company, but talk a little bit more about your company in general too.

Clayton Leibold (19:29):

Sure. Sounds good. I appreciate the time that we’re able to take in and continue to shed some light on a safety culture within the skilled trades sector and of the construction industry, and I’m happy to happy to help.

Jon O’Brien (19:52):

Absolutely. And you have been an award winning contractor. Of course, we’d like to have you back on, but I got to have one request. If we have you back in the future, we have to record it at your company. Chris, you have to see the farm. He has goats, horses. I believe you have horses and pigs and you name it. I love it.

Clayton Leibold (20:18):

Sure. We’re happy to show some folks around when we have visitors. We just had a baby donkey last week. So she’s she’s pretty darn cute. So she’s hanging around here, she’s always fun to hang around with. So it works out pretty well. Yeah.

Chris Martin (20:36):

Well, yeah, I’m there, man. I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby donkey, so that’ll be interesting.

Clayton Leibold (20:46):

Sure, absolutely.

Chris Martin (20:48):

All the stuff we talk about here. It’s not just about construction, right. It’s awesome.

Jon O’Brien (20:53):

Yeah.

Chris Martin (20:54):

Very cool. Yeah. Well, thank you for your time here. This is an excellent conversation and we look forward to seeing the baby donkey.

Clayton Leibold (21:05):

That sounds good. Anytime. Thanks for having me.

Building PA Podcast 2020 Year In Review

The Building PA Podcast made it to the 2020 finish line. The Keystone Contractors Association enjoyed working with Atlas Marketing in this endeavor as we talk construction with Pennsylvania’s construction professionals. Afterall, it was the guests who were the true stars of this podcast and we thank each and every guest we’ve had on the show. In 2021 and beyond, we look forward to getting more of you to join the conversation!

For more information on the Building PA Podcast, please visit: https://buildingpapodcast.com/

Building PA Podcast Shareable 2020 Fun Facts

Building PA Podcast published 46 episodes in 2020. The first was Business of Construction – Crisis communications published April 03 and the last was How Drone Technology is Impacting the Construction Industry published December 14. Did we improve this year? (Tweet)

In 2020, the most popular episode of Building PA Podcast was Apprenticeship Training – Sheet Metal Workers, published April 05 and downloaded 208 times. What was your favorite episode? (Tweet)

In 2020, Building PA Podcast was downloaded 902 times from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; our most popular city! Where do you listen from? (Tweet)

In 2020, fans of Building PA Podcast listened most using Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, and Your Buzzsprout Site apps. What’s your favorite app for listening to podcasts? (Tweet)

In 2020, Building PA Podcast published 46 episodes totaling about 21 hours of content. That’s about 1,250 minutes or 75,018 seconds for your listening pleasure. What was your favorite episode?(Tweet)

Building PA Podcast Season 1, Episode 10: Opioids & the Pennsylvania Construction Industry

Introduction: The story of how the Keystone Contractors Association became a respected authority in the opioid epidemic goes like this: in late 2016, early 2017, the KCA embarked on creating a strategic plan. This activity included trips around the state to get to know the contractor members better: learning about their strengths, weaknesses, challenges, etc. During these conversational meetings, a reoccurring topic kept creeping into our talks – opioids are wreaking havoc on our industry and communities. The KCA Board was in agreement that we have a major problem and they turned to me to find solutions. Not knowing where to turn for help, I asked a bunch a industry friends for advice. The best advice I received was from my former co-worker Bob McCall who said I should start with the National Safety Council and see if they can help. The KCA started with the NSC and here we are four years later still working with them to help in the battle against drug and alcohol addiction. In this episode, my friend Rachael Cooper of the NSC talks with the Building PA Podcast about opioids.   

To listen to the entire episode visit: Opioids & the Pennsylvania Construction Industry.

Jon O’Brien (00:00):

Hello, and welcome to the PA construction industry podcast recorded right here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am one of the hosts, Jon O’Brien from the Keystone Contractors Association.

Chris Martin:

And this is Chris Martin with Atlas Marketing, where we tell stories for people who build things.

Jon O’Brien:

Awesome. Glad you’re with us today. I hope you’re ready for another episode here, Chris. This is a very timely very important topic for not only for both of us, but for the entire industry. So this is great. Yeah, absolutely. The topic is something very near and dear to the construction industry and the KCA members. So about three and a half years ago, I was hired by the KCA and the KCA is located in central PA. The headquarters is Harrisburg and I left Pittsburgh and this was a new membership of construction companies for me.

Jon O’Brien (01:02):

And the first thing I wanted to do was really find the strengths and weaknesses of these members and get to know more about them and their challenges. There was a reoccurring issue that kept popping up throughout these construction companies. And it was the opioid issue and how it is drastically affecting, you know, their own workforce and their communities. And it’s just tearing families and communities apart, and the KCA wanted to do something about it. So, I started making a bunch of calls and contacts to industry friends, and everyone said the same thing. You got to go to the National Safety Council, they have the premier resources. It’s a great educational outlet for information. And I’m just thrilled and excited to have Rachael Cooper from the National Safety Council with us today to talk about opioids and, and yeah, I’m really excited to welcome her to the show right now.

Rachael Cooper (02:03):

Thank you guys. Thank you for having me.

Jon O’Brien (02:07):

Yeah. So, as I mentioned, the topic today is opioid awareness and the effect on the industry. Can you kind of give us maybe your background and kind of lead up to you know, your involvement in, on this serious issue?

Rachael Cooper (02:22):

Absolutely. So, thanks again for having me. My name is Rachael Cooper and I am the senior program manager and subject matter expert on opioids for the National Safety Council. My personal background is one that’s based in both international and public health. So, I started working on the opioid epidemic abroad when I was living in France several years ago, I have moved back to the States and I have worked both on the front lines, doing a lot of programming, getting people into treatment and getting people to support that they need people who have an opioid use disorder. And then now I’m working for the National Safety Council. And what we’re primarily working on right now is the intersection of opioids and how it impacts the workplace. So, when I say workplace, I mean, both employers and employees. So that is how our programming came to Jon’s ears.

Rachael Cooper (03:19):

And a lot of what we do right now as pertains to opioid awareness is really about realizing that this is an issue that we can all impact. This is something that we can all learn about that we can all change. The opioid crisis is complex, and it has many different faces and many different storylines, and it impacts us all differently, but we can support ourselves and help ourselves and help our neighbors and our communities and our colleagues and our coworkers by learning more about the issue and really increasing the education and awareness about the issue.

Jon O’Brien (03:53):

Great. Great to have you on the show here and on behalf of the KCA membership, thank you for all the resources you guys have supplied us, the NCS supplied us. They’ve been extremely helpful for the employers. You know, we get the stickers on the insurance and medication cards. That’s been awesome. It’s been chronicled in media outlets and others, of course you got the resource guide just came out.

Rachael Cooper (04:23):

Yeah. Yeah. Let me give a, I can talk a little bit about the things that you know that we’ve put out. So, the stickers that you mentioned, just to clarify, those are the warn me labels and warn me labels are intended for anybody who uses a pharmacy, right? So, anybody who receives a prescription, which is most of us, one thing that we know is that oftentimes when you’re prescribed a medication, you’re not exactly sure what it is, right? You might be prescribed something and it doesn’t sound like something you’ve heard of. We know that’s also very true with opioids. A lot of us are very familiar with say oxycodone or Percocet or Vicodin. Those names are very familiar to people, but there’s ones that are equally unfamiliar, such as Tramadol. Tramadol is also an opioid for example, or some of the generic names that we might not recognize as an opioid, what a warning label does is it, you stick it on your own pharmacy loyalty card or your insurance card or whatever.

Rachael Cooper (05:21):

And it says, opioids warn me. And it’s a reminder to yourself to ask your doctor for questions, which are provided to you about, you know, am I being prescribed an opioid? Is there an alternative, if there isn’t an alternative, how can I take this safely, et cetera, et cetera. And it’s a reminder, not only for you, but when you present your pharmacy card to your pharmacist, it’s a reminder for them as well. So, this is one of those tools that we thought was really useful in the workplace. And there’s a lot, like you said, it’s been published in the media because we give them out in little cards of four. So not only do you put it on your own pharmacy card, you can take it home for your family, or you can pass it to friends and they are free and can be ordered on our website at www.nsc.org/takeaction.

Rachael Cooper (06:05):

So that’s one of the really concrete tools that we’ve put out the second tool. And this is really about engaging businesses and understanding the impact that the opioid crisis has had on the workplace is our substance use cost calculator and the substance use cost calculator takes your organization’s size it’s industry and the state that you’re in and uses a variety of sources to debt of data, to calculate the financial impact that the opioid crisis has had on your workplace from turnover to absenteeism, to increase health care costs, to workers’ compensation costs. This tool pulls together all of that information so that you can see the cost of substance use, not just opioids, but also including alcohol cannabis, et cetera, is having on your workplace. It also shows you how much money you can save by supporting employees through recovery. The third tool that was just mentioned is the NSC opioids at work employer tool kit, and the employer toolkit is a set of resources targeted at four main audiences, HR professionals, safety professionals, managers, and supervisors, and employees themselves.

Rachael Cooper (07:23):

We came to the conclusion after serving several hundred organizations across the country that all four of those groups are necessary to create a comprehensive program to address opioids in the workplace. Opioids have a safety impact. They’re in impairing medication. They’re impairing when they’re taken as a drug, some people may show obvious signs of impairment, many people won’t. How do we recognize those safety risks? How do we understand the business risks, again, talking about the substance use cost calculator and those costs. How do we understand the human component, the culture component, when there are people in the workforce who are struggling with drug use or an opioid use disorder that impacts the workforce and how the workforce feels, the health of the workplace in general, as well as the individual health of the employee. And then of course, education resources for employee themselves to have a better educated, more aware workforce. So that opioids at work employer tool kit came out recently in September of 2019. And again, it has a set of it’s four sets of documents and tools that you can use to in your workplace to really evaluate where your workplace is at and re-addressing this and give some key action steps that can be really helpful when addressing the opioid crisis in the workplace

Jon O’Brien (08:40):

Concerning the warn me stickers. There is another benefit that we realized. And I don’t know if other companies that you talked to realize this as well, but as far as the actual handling of the sticker from the employer or employee, in some cases, some contractors told me there was kind of a, you know, a bond was built, you know, relationship was improved. Now their employers showing they have put this on you, I care about you and take some home to your family. I care about your family too. So that was an absolutely touching feedback we heard there. So, yeah.

Rachael Cooper (09:15):

Yeah. We hear similar things. I think that one of the things that is really critical is when we talk about the opioid crisis or the overdose epidemic, or any of the intersecting parts, is that you can’t overstate the impact that stigma has when people are trying to seek help. When people are trying to figure out how to handle an opioid use disorder or a substance use disorder, either with themselves or within their family, right? It might not be, you know, your employee, it might be their spouse or their child or another family member, or a dear friend who’s dealing with this, which also is stressful and can really impact their presence in the workplace. And if they’re on your healthcare plan, of course, there’s costs associated there as well. But if people feel like they will be judged, if people feel like they will lose their job, if people feel like they aren’t safe in disclosing this to a coworker, a manager, an HR professional, anybody, they’re not going to say anything, which means that we’re not going to learn about it, and then we can’t help. So like you said, that first step by saying being proactive and saying, I care about this, I care about you is certainly one of those unspoken things that’s critical for the success of any opioids at work program implementation.

Chris Martin (10:38):

So Rachel, you mentioned the human and cultural impact of the opioids epidemic. I’m sorry. I left that out. What are you seeing from not only from the national level, but more from like more specifically to Pennsylvania, how is that impacting contractors and, and overall the industry as it relates to Pennsylvania?

Rachael Cooper (11:04):

Sure. So, there’s a lot of information out there about how the construction industry is one of the hardest hit industries in terms of drug use in general. Late last fall NYU came out with a study that showed that construction workers were the most likely to use opioids and cocaine. So, there’s a lot of different reasons for that involving, and some of them are specific to Pennsylvania, some of them aren’t for example, that Eastern seaboard area, Pennsylvania, you know, even the Massachusetts, Connecticut, and then a little bit into the Midwest, including Ohio, West, Virginia, et cetera, et cetera, these are all very hard hit areas in general, right? Access is definitely part of this conversation areas where opioids are less prevalent for in the plain States like North and South Dakota, Wyoming, et cetera. There’s a much lower level of opioid use due to the access component. But when you’re in a place where access is pretty high, where the capacity to access these substances or any substances is higher, obviously that does also equate to more people using them. So that’s certainly part of it, but we also know that there’s certain factors in construction and also mining and extraction industry.

Chris Martin (12:22):

That they’re… I’m sorry,

Rachael Cooper (12:23):

Hazards, you know, falls injuries from overexertion being stuck in our crop by heavy machinery injuries from repetitive or strenuous work, et cetera, leads to pain. And the most frequent reason that people misuse opioids is to treat pain. This is why most people misuse opioids, most of the time, you know, you think that we’re talking about physical pain, there’s certainly a mental pain component to it as well. But oftentimes, especially when it comes to chronic pain, there’s a lot of research that has yet to be done in terms of how to best treat chronic pain. So people self-medicate, they don’t know what else to do. Sometimes it’s opioids, sometimes it’s marijuana with opioids. Of course, once you start to develop a dependence on the medication, then it can be really, really difficult to wean yourself off. And when you’re continuing those movements or those motions, or those repetitive motions that can really exacerbate injuries or pain, or when you’re still putting yourself at risk, then people aren’t going to understand how to get themselves off these medications.

Rachael Cooper (13:29):

So that’s one of those, you know, those factors with the construction industry, that’s really important to consider. Another thing that we know from a variety of sources is that when people don’t have stable, sick time, when they are not sure how to help, they’re going to be employed you know, in the next week, or if they’re, they’ve only got a month and people tend to push through their pain, right. As opposed to taking time off and going back, they tend to push through it because they need to so that, you know, they don’t miss work so that they can come back to work. So oftentimes these are the kinds of, this is the intersection that we really see here is this, this high impact, higher risk injury for injury, as opposed to, for example, an office. I mean, I work from home, right? My risk of injury is generally me slipping on my hardwood floors.

Rachael Cooper (14:18):

Right. It’s very, very different which I do by the way, because, you know, I shouldn’t be wearing, but sometimes I don’t wear shoes and sometimes I’m wearing socks and when I slip and I’m like, well, that was great. But in general, you know, when, when you’re looking at those people will go to really extreme lengths to hide their, their drug use as a general thing, they don’t want to get fired. And they need, they need their job. Right. And, and especially when it’s a seasonal thing, we see this in the fishing industry as well. Well, another high impact industry where it’s seasonal, where people might get hurt three weeks in, but they’re not going to stop because they can’t. So this is, you know, one of those, a similar situation in that, in that case,

Chris Martin (14:59):

You know, it’s funny Rachel, you mentioned, you know, slipping on the hardwood floors and stuff, but I had surgery a year and a half ago minor surgery, nothing crazy as I was getting discharged, the nurse was, you know, standard procedure going through everything. And she handed me a prescription and it was for Oxycontin and she looked at it before she handed it to me. She, she looked at it again and she goes, Oh, hold on a second. I need to check on this. So she walks, goes, checks with the doctor, comes back. It was, you mentioned, I’m bringing this up because you mentioned access. The prescription was for a hundred Oxycontin. Wow. And like, my wife looked at me and says that there’s no way we’re going to, you’re never, ever going to use that. And I said, exactly. And the nurse at least had the foresight to go and at least confirm, are you sure you really want to do this?

Chris Martin (15:55):

And then when I went to the pharmacist and I said, give me 10, I don’t need a hundred. That’s ridiculous. You know, but to your point, there are so many times when people look at it and say, well, Hey, I got a hundred, I’m going to use all. You know, that isn’t really helping anything, but the access side of things I think is, is another part of it. You know, the, the pain management world of the medical industry is always trying to help with that. But at the same time, they’re really not helping at all.

Rachael Cooper (16:28):

Yeah. And I think that, you know, from a personal perspective, what I’ve learned is, I mean, so I broke my leg a few years ago out on the West coast. And then we had to drive home and I live in Madison, Wisconsin, and it was a long drive obviously. And they gave me a bike and then I took it for a day because it made me sick. And then I was sick and had a broken leg. And I was like, that’s a bad combination too. So we’re just not going to do that. But those just, they just sat in my medicine cabinet. And that’s a pretty common thing where people forget about it, or they specifically choose to keep it, because what if they need it down the road, especially for people who are under insured or who aren’t sure where their next prescription is going to come from, or if they’re going to be able to get the support that they need, that a lot of that can happen. And when people are going to elect to say, no, I’m going to keep these in case I need them, because what if I can’t get them when I do need them?

Jon O’Brien (17:18):

Yeah. It’s kind of scary to think that that is that’s the mentality, but you understand it too.

Rachael Cooper (17:26):

Right. And I think that’s one of those really critical moments where we know when, when you think about it and you’re like, I just wish people wouldn’t do that. Of course you do, but it needs to, and this is where we have this. We talk a lot about a multifaceted response here, right? This has to be about more than just personal responsibility to get rid of your medications. You know, people have to be able to access what they need for pain management, including possibly, you know, if you know, your doctor says that actually we want to put you in occupational therapy, or we want you to go to chiropractor once a week or whatever they end up saying. Oftentimes, I mean, it’s a lot easier and it’s a lot faster to take a pill, right. It’s just easier.

Rachael Cooper (18:07):

It takes less time. You don’t have to take time off of work. You don’t have to do something that maybe you’re not comfortable with. You know, people who are scared of needles, aren’t going to want to go to acupuncture, that kind of stuff. Right. So, you know, it’s part of, it’s a multi-sectoral response and that not only do we need to increase the access for non opioid pain management options, but workplaces have to be able to give people the time to go access those options. And also to say that, Hey, I know that, you know, maybe your recovery from your injury is taking a little bit longer than expected, but we want you to be back here and fully healthy as opposed to back here and partially healthy and still trying to self medicate to be able to come back to work. So there’s definitely a several different levels of engagement here.

Rachael Cooper (18:54):

And we have to rely on the treatment industry to increase access to treatment. And we need to work with, you know, the prevention organizations to, to work on some of the more in depth prevention mechanisms. And there’s so many different capacity factors here, and we don’t have the capacity to do all of them. So, you know, this is where we talk about teaming up in your community. And Pennsylvania has a ton of resources. It’s one of the States that has a lot of different resources across the state from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everything in between where it’s the state has been really proactive, which is a really pretty cool thing because there’s definitely States where it’s not the case. So everything from harm reduction organizations to you know, the criminal justice world of social services to employment stuff, there’s some really cool stuff in Pennsylvania as a whole.

Jon O’Brien (19:42):

And recently our governor, Tom Wolf, gave his budget address and he was commenting how overdoses are down in Pennsylvania last year for the first time in so many years. And they really credit all the outreach that these organizations and companies do. So I just wanted to echo your comments as a man, he does do a great job, but like our governor said, it’s not done until we’re down to zero, so we just gotta keep it up.

Rachael Cooper:

And you said something Chris there. Sorry. Sorry. No, that was a really good point there, Jon.

Jon O’Brien:

So Rachel, my question for you is what’s coming next. What’s the National Safety Council doing next to continue to build off of all the great things that have happened?

Rachael Cooper (20:28):

Sure. So a couple answers to that question. So one is that we do recognize that a lot of the resources that we have built and that NIOSH has built that other industries or other organizations have built really tend to focus on organizations who are not only really advanced in their safety, but also have a lot of resources at their disposal. So for example, when I say that, one of the things that I mean is oftentimes we talk about making sure that employers structured their benefits plans to not only cover to not only cover alternative pain management mechanisms of non-opioid pain management mechanisms, but also to cover medications for addiction treatment and, you know, behavioral health therapies, et cetera, et cetera. You can’t do that. If you don’t have an employer health care plan, if you’re a small organization, if you’re a small business, right, this is not an option for you.

Rachael Cooper (21:26):

You know, you can do the best you can internally, but if you’re not the one providing and negotiating with your health insurance providers, then you’re at their whim of the ones that your employee chooses to buy or to not buy for that matter. So that’s one of the things that we’re really diving into is ensuring that small businesses have the resources that they need because this impacts small businesses as well. We know that the majority of opioid overdoses that happen on the job happen in small businesses, small businesses are less likely to drug test. They’re less likely to have, you know, some of the policies in place that we want. So how do we work with those businesses to get them to them point where, you know, they can also take these, these actions. We are also understand of course, that regardless of the size of the business and regardless of the industry, that there’s different levels of maturity, some people are still learning about this.

Rachael Cooper (22:29):

Maybe it hasn’t hit them very hard yet. You know, the West coast is just starting to be hit by the fentanyl crisis. It’s different. It goes East to West here. So the East coast is starting to see a rise in stimulant use after the fentanyl use the West coast just now is starting to really get hit with the fentanyl. So it depends on where you are, right? So understanding that those particular caveats is really important and understanding that there’s always going to be organizations that are starting from scratch. So the more that we know and the deeper we go into this and the more mature organizations that we partner with closely that we really work with become, you know, as they do, as they work along the entire spectrum of prevention and treatment and recovery and all those different recommendations about how to navigate opioids in the workplace, how they implement these programs, how they learn about it, what works, what doesn’t really taking, what we learned from the implementation that people are doing right now, and helping create a framework for businesses who are going to be coming a little bit later.

Rachael Cooper (23:30):

We also understand, of course, that this is a pharmaceutical drug issue. It’s not just opioids. I live in Wisconsin, we were up in Wisconsin, Northern very Northern Wisconsin. Last May, and all we heard about was alcohol and because that’s what the issue is up there. So it’s important, of course, at all times to really understand that while we do talk about the opioid crisis and the opioid crisis is what sparked this particular movement, that there is always going to be stuff that is that you can use for other talking about other drugs you can use for talking about alcohol, being in recovery is different from person to person, but you can be in recovery from a lot of different things or just one thing or whatever that looks like for you. And how does that translate to the workforce?

Rachael Cooper (24:19):

How do we make a recovery friendly workforce? It’s not just going to be recovery friendly for opioids, it’s going to be recovery friendly for everything. So really working on, you know, getting to that point where this understanding of substance use disorders as it pertains to any substance, not just opioids. And then lastly, really looking at what does it mean to be a recovery friendly workplace? How do we support people in recovery? What does that look like? And that is a question that it has a lot of different answers. There are certain organizations that have really focused on being a recovery friendly workplace. There’s different States that have really worked on it on a state level creating programs. And what that looks like is going to be critical, moving forward as more and more people move to recovery. Cause that’s the whole point is to get people to recovery.

Jon O’Brien (25:12):

I think KCA is much like probably a lot of the groups that you touched on. A lot of the associations you touch in that there seems to be some companies that are more active in areas, and some are more involved in raising the awareness on opioids and some don’t do as much, but the ones that seem to do a lot, they always come to me and they’re always like, well, what’s an example of someone that really does good in this area. And I want to turn to them and say, you know, you, but in your role, cause I always want to get better, you know, internally, but within your role, do you know good examples of companies that really go above and beyond and really lead by example?

Rachael Cooper (25:52):

Sure. Absolutely. So there’s a couple that come to mind and everything. Everybody does things a little bit differently. So for example, at KCA, you have focused a lot on this prevention component. The warn me labels, the education, the awareness, the stand downs, which is, you know that’s a classic prevention mechanism, education and awareness drives everything else. So, you know, when people are talking about prevention mechanisms, we talk about you, which is great. So that’s cool. When we talk about some of the policy stuff, we talk a lot about Nationwide, as an example, Nationwide has worked really hard to create a program for their for all of their campuses where there’s a lot of education components too, but they’ve also built a system that exists outside of their company’s intranet. So people can access it anonymously and get the support they need.

Rachael Cooper (26:48):

And then they do have a program that gets triggered when people either have a positive drug screen, or when they voluntarily go to a director, supervisor HR professional and say that they want to be enrolled. And it’s a treatment program. Well, it’s not a treatment program onsite, but it links them to a treatment program they’ve partnered with. And they work with doctors to find the best source of treatment. That’s the type of treatment that this person needs. And their success rate is very high for people who choose to enroll in the program. And then from a very frontline perspective, I’m fishing partnership support services in out of Boston is a really excellent example of working with the limitations of an industry, right? So fishermen often are out on the water for weeks at a time, meaning that they don’t have support if something goes wrong or, you know, if they are in an active addiction stage or if they have an opioid use disorder, then it can be really, really tricky.

Rachael Cooper (27:43):

So, JJ Bartlett and their crew have really worked to get in a lock zone on the boats to do peer report peer to peer recovery services to work with treatment providers in the local area, so that some of so that they work with them so that people can take their medications and all in a quantity that they can bring out on the water for several days so that they don’t have to miss doses, et cetera, et cetera. So those are some of the main ones we talk about, but I mean, there’s so, so many, and you know, one of the larger take home messages is that any action makes a difference. You might be an organization who doesn’t have a ton of capacity right now for whatever set of reasons, which is fine. It happens to all of us, you know, we all have to work on different things. There’s other, you know, there’s always urgent things and we all work to make sure that the urgent doesn’t crowd out the important, but we have to do both. So anything makes a difference. You know, we have videos in our opioids at work employer toolkit, there is a two and a half minute about drugs in the brain that you can show your employees, you know, during an all staff meeting, there’s five minutes, safety talks, the warning labels are free. Any one of those actions can make the difference in somebody’s life.

Jon O’Brien (28:56):

Yeah. I’m often approached by other contractor associations and they’ll say, Oh, you’re a leader in this area. And I’m like, well, I’m actually not, not a leader. I’m just a follower. National Safety Council is the leader.

Rachael Cooper (29:10):

You are a leader like in that, that’s the, one of those things that, you know, we all lead in different ways because leading by example is one of those really important things. And that’s one thing that we talk about a lot internally is we, you have to lead by example, things are important and you know, then you have to prioritize them. But if we don’t do it, then how can, you know, we all have to do it together.

Chris Martin (29:32):

That’s a great way to kind of pull this together. And Jon, I’m going to put words in your mouth and thank Rachael, but more importantly you know, isn’t it nice to hear from somebody that is overseeing the nation and how things are going, that you’re a leader. So hats off to you, Jon and the KCA for, for doing such a great job in Pennsylvania.

Jon O’Brien:

Thank you. We just want to keep doing our small little part and thank you for helping us.

Rachael Cooper (30:00):

Yeah. Oh yeah. Anytime. Yeah. That’s what we do. Yeah.

Chris Martin (30:04):

Well, Rachel, thank you for joining us today. And it was very, very important topic for the industry. Again, this is Chris Martin and my partner, Jon O’Brien we want to say thank you and we’ll have more exciting and very relevant topics coming up in future episodes. So stay tuned.

GCAP: Governor’s Veto of Legislation that Provided COVID-19 Liability Protection for Employers is Disappointing

November 30, 2020, Harrisburg, PA – The General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania (GCAP) was one of eighty Pennsylvania associations who united, led by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, to support House Bill 1737.  This legislation included comprehensive, temporary, pandemic-related liability protections.  A statewide, collective sigh of rejection from the eighty organizations happened today when Governor Tom Wolf vetoed HB1737.

GCAP executive director Jon O’Brien issued the following statement in response to Governor Tom Wolf’s veto:

“Across Pennsylvania, during the COVID-19 pandemic, construction companies have been focused on keeping the workforce safe while trying to recover economically.  GCAP construction companies have been exemplary in abiding by Pennsylvania’s Construction Guidelines and we continue to share our best practices with Pennsylvania Departments of Community Economic Development and Labor & Industry.  Also, concerning the guidelines, I feel compelled to point that we assisted in creating them (Governor Wolf’s press release announcing the creation of Construction Guidelines).”

“This veto was deflating and comes at perhaps the worst time.  During these unprecedented times, many construction companies are working in good faith when it comes to arming our workers with the PPE to be safe on the jobsites, since these PPE costs were not part of the original estimate and no one foresaw what 2020 would bring.  Many clients are telling contractors that ‘they’ll settle up’ after the project on added PPE costs.  Additionally, backlog of future work is down since some clients are unsure of what the future holds so they are not willing to put work out to bid.  Our industry was hopeful that we could get some good news and some much-needed liability protections, instead construction companies have to keep their guard up against trial lawyers anxious to profit from the pandemic.”

“The construction industry will get through this pandemic stronger and smarter than before.  Our industry always learns from challenges that face us.  While the veto of HB1737 was definitely disappointing, we look forward to working with the General Assembly and groups like the Pennsylvania Chamber to improve our economy while keeping our workforce safe.”

ABOUT GCAP: Established in 1953, GCAP is an organization representing the memberships of General Building Contractors Association, Keystone Contractors Association, and Master Builders’ Association. Collectively, GCAP represents over 700-plus commercial construction companies based throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For more information visit https://generalcontractorsofpa.com/.

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Upcoming Virtual Construction Events in PA

The Keystone Contractors Association is teaming with some industry friends to host the following virtual events over the next few months. Please feel free to share with whomever you think may be interested. If you’d like to learn more about the KCA or these events just reach out to us at 717-731-6272 or Jon@KeystoneContractors.com.

 
Why Pennsylvania? A Construction Recruiter from Ireland Considers PA for a New Office

Thursday, October 29, 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Our state government asked the KCA to provide insights on our state’s construction industry to a company based in Ireland. The purpose of this request is because this HR company is considering various locations in the USA, including PA. On October 29 this company will provide their thoughts on PA and then they will present a brief demo on their HR platform. To register visit Why Pennsylvania? A Company from Ireland Considers PA for a New Office.

An Overview of the PA One Call Law

Thursday, November 12, 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Co-hosted by NUCA PA & KCA and presented by Armando Ferri, excavator representative on both PA One Call Board and PUC’s Damage Prevention Committee, this educational program will touch on safe digging practices in PA. Plus, the Q&A session will allow for your questions to get answered. To register please visit An Overview of the PA One Call Law

An Afternoon with KCA Builders 

Tuesday, November 17, 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

This virtual event allows for you to meet with some of the KCA construction companies. Build your network while finding out what projects these firms are proposing on. Each of the following contractors will have their own breakout room: Alexander Building Construction Company, JEM Group, Penn Installations, Performance Construction, Quandel Construction, Rocky Bleier Construction Group, and Serviam Construction. To register please visit An Afternoon with KCA Builders.

Advice to Builders from Owners & Designers

Wednesday, December 2, 3:30 PM to 6:00 PM

This is the third and final in the Improving Project Outcomes series. Earlier we discussed the best pieces of advice for Owners and Designers – now it’s the Builders turn. We will follow the same schedule as past meetings with the program and breakout rooms from 3:30 to 5:00 PM, followed by a virtual happy hour for those that want to stick around. To register please visit Advice to Builders from Owners & Designers

Building PA Podcast: Season 1 – Episode 4: Building a Safety Culture the Alexander Way

ABOUT THIS EPISODE: Since the KCA and its contractor members are renowned for safety excellence, we wanted to showcase safety with our podcast. Alexander Building Construction Company has a proud history especially when it comes to safety. Its founder, H.B. Alexander, was a pioneer in the area of construction safety and he was an active and early member of the Associated General Contractors of America’s Safety Committee in the 1950’s (two decades before OSHA was established and decades before construction companies placed safety as a priority.) Something tells me that Mr. Alexander would be proud of the work that its current safety director, Darren Rech, does to build a safety culture with the company. To hear the interview visit: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/safety-alexander-building-and-construction/id1506259467?i=1000470794135

Jon O’Brien (00:01):

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Building PA Podcast, a podcast for construction professionals living right here in the great state of Pennsylvania. I am one of your co-hosts, I’m Jon O’Brien from the Keystone Contractors Association and I’m joined by my other cohost.

Chris Martin:

Alright, this is Chris Martin with Atlas Marketing. We tell stories for people who build things.

Jon O’Brien:

We have an excellent episode today, you know we’ve touched on so many topics whether it’s on workforce development, legislation, construction contracts, but I think, well, when we talk about safety, nothing beats construction safety…and we have a Bonafede superstar in the area of safety, Darren Rech from Alexander Building Construction. Welcome Darren.

Darren Rech:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Chris Martin:

Yeah, so one thing when we started with this podcast is, you know, we wanted to make sure to touch on a lot of construction industry topics.

Chris Martiin (01:04):

And when it comes to safety, we have this series and reminding other contractors just to get their feedback and their comments related to building a safety culture. So, you know, welcome to the podcast. And let’s talk about building a safety culture. What do you say, Darren? You ready?

Darren Rech:

Sure. Yeah.

Jon O’Brien:

Do you have any comments for our crowd or audience?

Darren Rech:

Not necessarily. I guess. My experience in construction is over 12 years in various managerial roles and I actually have a safety science degree from IUP, so I actually went to school for safety. And you know, I’ve been doing it now for geez, almost 30 years. So in various industries.

Jon O’Brien:

And how long have you been at Alexander?

Darren Rech:

So it’ll be in June, it’ll be seven years with Alexander as a safety director. Okay, thank you. Yes, we cover State College and Harrisburg and the surrounding regions, you know, York, Lancaster Williamsport, if necessary, wherever the job is, that’s where I go.

Jon O’Brien (02:22):

Okay. So your corporate wide with Alexander, you’re the safety guru, correct?

Darren Rech:

That’s correct. My title is Safety Director. We have at Alexander, a project in Mechanicsburg, the Hampton medical center project. It’s a Penn State Health project and we have a site safety coordinator on that particular project in State College. We had a site safety coordinator on our Paterno library project. And since that project completed, we have her moving around to different jobs in that State College region. So sort of helps. And she does a lot of the site assessments and whatever’s needed on those particular projects in that region.

Jon O’Brien:

Well, that’s a good place to start. So let’s talk about the two people you were mentioning there. How do you build a safety culture within them? You know, how do you coach them?

Darren Rech (03:24):

Yeah so my approach personally is one of coaching and mentoring. I’m not necessarily a, there were days of safety cops if you will, back years ago. And in this day and age with the workforce and different types of people working, really the method to get through to people is through coaching and mentoring and really just having an opportunity to build alliances with these people and build a rapport and build relationships you know, rather than the old yelling method or throwing somebody off the job. So that’s sort of my approach with our two site safety coordinators and they’ve done a good job adapting to our industry, especially the building construction and have come a long way and just, you know, sending that message out to their folks on their particular projects and in our region as well.

Jon O’Brien:

So you get a sense and you see that the buy in is there, you know, the people, your two safety professionals buying into the safety culture.

Darren Rech (04:27):

Yes, absolutely. You know, we have owners and we have some important owners who, who really value safety. And so when we can provide a site safety coordinator, you know, on one project, that’s pretty rare. Usually it’s one person per company hitting, you know, multiple jobs and doing site assessments and, you know, compliance regulatory assessments, things like that. So when you have multiple people, you know, you can create more of a focus on safety and you can drill down a lot more and into the training incident investigation, site assessments, and, you know, just have a well rounded safety program.

Chris Martin (05:05):

Do you find that the employees outside of the safety department are embracing safety? I mean, I I’ve been working in construction for about 30 years, just like you. And it seems to be this. Everybody might not love everybody, but everybody knows it’s of importance. Everybody recognizes how vital it is to the job site, but do people really buy into that safety culture?

Darren Rech (05:36):

Yeah, that’s a great question. And in reality, you have buy-in at various levels. Certain individuals will buy into it more so than others. And I find also that certain project teams will buy into safety more so than others. They’ll support the safety approach. They’ll do the initiatives that we typically set out for on those particular project. So, you know, it’s constantly up and down and we push this buying on a constant basis. And again, it’s really a lot of chemistry between the project teams and you hope that you have a team that a few people are buying into it and at least take the lead on safety for that particular project, because the way we’re set up is just really the site safety supers. I’m sorry, the site superintendent is in charge of safety, ultimately, but we have project managers, we have project engineers and also carpenters working on these projects.

Darren Rech (06:41):

So our approach is really to encourage everybody to buy into safety and have a stake in the safety approach. If you see something step up and do something to fix it. So that’s really our method of safety and communication is if you see something, make sure you step up, it’s not just the superintendent’s job. So that’s really what we try to push here.

Chris Martin:

And to that point, what are some best practices that you’ve seen instituted or are looking to institute at Alexander as it relates to that buy in?

Darren Rech:

So typically some of the methods we’ve incorporated where just tool box talks, for instance to discuss a task with your teams performance, or a morning huddle to discuss what task you’re going to do that week and have a review of that task and sign off by each team member.

Darren Rech (07:44):

So everybody has buy in. We also do what’s called a job safety analysis and really what that entails is reviewing what the hazards are for the task you are about to complete. So “do you have the right equipment for the job?” “Has everyone understood what is needed?” “Does everyone understand the hazards?” And so as a team, you have different levels of experience. Some guy might be working for 30 plus years. You may have a guy who’s, you know, maybe less than a year in the industry. So there’s such a variety of experience. And really what we’re trying to do is between each team member just communicate what the hazards are that they see and make sure they understand how they’re going to approach that. And what did we do to eliminate or minimize the hazard? So the job safety analysis, and we call it the thing card is something that we really push.

Darren Rech (08:39):

And we want to make sure that we understand what tasks the hazards are before we jump into the tasks. So oftentimes when I do incident investigations, a lot of times the correct or the root cause was some something to the effect of, well, we just, you know, we did something stupid or we knew better. And so, you know, many times, if they would just think through the task and pause before doing something, then often you get a good positive result. So that’s what we constantly encourage is the JSA – job safety analysis. Another thing we do on a monthly basis, we typically have what’s called a site safety stand down, and we will have a huddle. And it entails a group of foreman carpenters. It could be a project managers and we all walk the site together and we look for observations with deficiencies and things that need corrected and also you know, just pointing out things of areas of improvement.

Darren Rech (09:47):

And it’s a real collaborative approach. No, one’s yelling at each other or finger pointing. So it’s real positive buy in from everybody. And we typically do that once a month and, you know, we would buy lunch, maybe it’s you know, grilling hot dogs or hamburgers on the grill and you stand around and talk safety for maybe an hour, hour and a half with everybody on the job site. And so the personnel working, they typically have a good feedback response to us and you know, it’s well received. So it’s been an effective way of promoting safety and thinking about what they’re doing before they jump into their tasks.

Jon O’Brien:

Would you say everyone on the job site? So you’re including subs, consultants, anyone that might be on the site?

Darren Rech:

Yeah, that’s correct. So at Alexander we’re a construction manager and we have mostly subcontractors on our project. So these walk throughs will be mostly subcontractors. Oftentimes the owner will jump in and join us, but primarily it’s Alexander and our subcontractors and the owner at certain times.

Jon O’Brien:

For the client, what’s the owner’s take on not only the walkthrough, but the culture of safety at Alexander?

Darren Rech (11:10):

Yeah. So, you know, more and more these days, we’re finding owners who really look at safety and the culture of safety within your company. What we have is in every company what’s called an experience modification rating, and it’s a number used by insurance companies to gauge both past costs, injuries, and risk, or chances of risk. So the lower, the EMR of your business, the lower your workers’ compensation insurance premiums will be. And so what we’re finding is a lot of owners are really looking at that number. So if you have an EMR, for instance, of 1.0, that’s considered the average. And so to mitigate the insurance risk, they raised the workers’ comp premiums when your EMR starts creeping up over 1.0, right? And so, you know, the bad news is the, as an EMR increases, it sticks with you for about three years.

Darren Rech (12:14):

So it doesn’t go away after say a year. And as I said, more and more clients are starting to look at that that particular number. And you know, I sort of use the analogy, if you have your auto insurance premium, you know, on your personal vehicle, then you get into maybe two or three accidents a year. You know, what happens with your premiums, they shoot up, right? So the same thing is the case for workers’ comp insurance. And again, a lot of companies, a lot of owners, clients are starting to look at that EMR a little closely when they do their due process for a particular project. So it’s a very important number.

Jon O’Brien (13:13):

I heard on a conference call recently a comment, from I think a General Contractor from New York City I believe, and he made the comment that these young professionals that are coming out of a school they have been born and raised to talk safety. Their entire lives safety’s all around them. They’re always thinking about everything around them, and the educational process is doing a great job of preaching safety. It’s the old timers on the job site, it’s the guys that have been there forever and they’re like, Oh, I’m just doing it this way and I’ve always done it that way, you know? So yeah I’d like to get your feedback on that comment.

Darren Rech:

Yeah. That’s you know, it’s interesting. And I mentioned earlier, my approach to safety is more coaching and mentoring. And, you know, as we grow older into this business of safety and in some of our industry experience and your dad’s move on, you know, I’m seeing a shifting culture from that mentality. These, you know, a lot of these guys are getting older and they’re starting to feel their aches and pains and things like that that are creeping up after years of working in the construction industry.

Darren Rech (14:13):

So, you know, they’re starting to appreciate safety a little bit more, which is interesting. So it makes our job a little easier because they’re open to safety, suggestions and ideas to make their job easier. So, you know, ironically, I’m hearing a little bit less of the, you know, this is the way I’ve done it for 30 years now approach. So it’s been good and it’s been refreshing. And I think the culture of the industry starting to shift a little bit more towards that, you know, let’s do something safely and, and easier so we can, you know, go home safer.

Jon O’Brien:

Absolutely. And are you saying that too, amongst the younger professionals, their safety conscience too?

Darren Rech (15:16):

Yeah, it’s interesting. A lot of the folks coming out of the union halls and just entering industry in general you know, carpenters, electricians, plumbers laborers, most of these folks have the OSHA 30 hour training or the OSHA 10 hour training at least. So it’s been a good training for these folks. And, you know, I noticed on some of our projects that the owner will actually require that anyone working must be trained by a licensed OSHA 30 hour trainer, as well as maybe the labor has the OSHA 10 hour training. So there’s certainly a requirement from owners that a certain level of safety, the training is completed. And so that’s been a great plus as well, as far as culture and maintaining the safe culture.

Jon O’Brien:

I think it was maybe a year or two ago, you approached me, Dan, you approached me and mentioned a topic I’d never heard of before – Prevention Through Design. Is that still active on your radar? And if so is it a needed process during construction. And do you wanna explain what that is first of all?

Darren Rech (16:17):

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Prevention Through Design is you know, it’s a concept that’s been around for years and it has a little bit of a change in name, but ultimately what the concept fundamentally is one that you think of safety. You know, I’ll take building construction, for instance. You think of safety during the design of the building throughout the construction of the building, as well as the life cycle, after we’ve finished the building and the end user comes into occupy this building. We think of safety all through it from cradle to grave, basically. So, you know, we obviously want to work safely while we’re building it, but when we give up the project and the building is complete, and we turn it over to the owner who has folks who need to work daily in this building, or you know, different types of maintenance folks, they have to maintain this building and how do they do it in a safe manner?

Darren Rech (17:21):

So Prevention Through Design is really a concept of, you know, making sure that gauges, switches, light pictures and anything that must be maintained can be maintained in a safe manner. So the elimination of ladders, you know, maybe it’s a light the community lowered, so the bulb can be changed or maintained. And so, you know, the concept of just minimizing the risk is really what PTD is. And we continue to push that on all of our projects and we do it in different levels. It depends what the owners buy in from a safety standpoint and what they’re willing to spend with the design phase. So it varies in different degrees. You know, PTD is typically on one of our projects, but you know, we certainly continue to push it as a company and the certain requirements. So kind of in a nutshell, that’s what PTD is.

Jon O’Brien:

So it varies depending on who the owner is?

Darren Rech (18:34):

Yeah, varies, I guess of what it could involve. The occupants would be involved in the Prevention Through Design process and kind of let their opinions weigh in. Got some, right. Yeah, yeah. Really it’s driven by the owner. So the owner may say if, for instance, if the owner hires the architect, they, as well as the engineers, they really push the architects and engineers to design a building that’s safe, you know, for instance, a parapet wall should be at 39 inches. And of course there’s a cost to that. But if the owner is pushing the architect to design that building, regardless of cost, you know, you may have typically a 12 inch parapet wall on a rooftop. So if you can raise it to 39 inches, the folks who need to get out on that roof and maintain equipment and things like that can do so without fall protection, because you already have that parapet wall at the required height. So that’s an example of PTD and how the owner can certainly push it down the community to the architect and engineer, so to design it to be a safe building.

Chris Martin (19:44):

That’s a really interesting concept. I know when I worked for a contractor out in the central part of the state where your headquarters are, nothing against that company, but that just wasn’t happening at the time and that wasn’t a thought of how to you know, it was just, here are your keys, we’re onto the next project. And literally pulling together the ability to think beyond that is a heck of a great service for your customers. And as well as the people that are going to ultimately work in there beyond just the building and the trades and the other folks. So kudos to you guys for that.

Darren Rech (20:27):

Yeah. And that’s a great point too, cause I think really that that’s a key part of safety culture. And within Alexander, we have executive leadership who pushes safety. We have a parent company based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and, you know that’s our parent company. And from our parent company down to Alexander’s executive leadership throughout, we have multiple safety directors. And so, you know, they’re really encouraging to know that they’re pushing safety and they make our life easier when, you know, they expect safe work projects and people were considerably. So, and they typically give us the resources as safety directors to do our job and, and do what’s needed to keep working safely. So, you know, really it did call it true from an Alexander standpoint.

Jon O’Brien:

That’s good. I’m guessing along that process too, there’s some good best practice sharing between your businesses and the safety professionals.

Darren Rech (21:35):

Yeah, yeah, that’s correct. And you know, in fact, we’re having a safety director meeting next Tuesday and the safety directors from each region basically get together. We typically do try to do one on a quarterly basis or at least, you know, twice a year. And we talk about best practices, what each region is doing for safety, sharing ideas and just really a good general discussion on safety on you know, where resources are needed and how we can do a better job and improve our project safety. It’s a great opportunity. And I, and again, it goes back to our executive leadership, you know, enabling us to do that and providing resources of your time away from projects and working on these ideas and concepts and making sure we can share these ideas.

Chris Martin:

It definitely starts at the top. Doesn’t it?

Darren Rech (22:33):

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. There’s no question that’s you know, if you don’t have good leadership in place who focuses on safety it makes it really difficult for everyone you know, working down to work safely and to really buy into it. So certainly starts at the top.

Chris Martin:

Well, that’s something we want to do also with this Building PA Podcast, do a lot of best practice sharing. We want to give good stories, good answers, hopefully something in there, some company or some construction professional heard something that the light bulb went on. And, Oh, that’s a great idea. You know, we should try that. So we’re constantly want to drive home safety on this podcast. And safety these days is not something that is sort of copied, right. You know, in the past, people wanted to keep their ideas, you know, because they were their ideas.

Darren Rech (23:31):

And nowadays I see a lot more sharing of ideas with safety to promote safety just between different directors and you know, safety professionals everybody’s willing to share their ideas or, you know, help each other out. And that certainly goes a long way with a more safety. And, you know, especially in the construction industry, it’s a pretty tight knit industry. So when you have different professionals helping each other, you know, helps us individually. And that certainly happens. And you know, at least with Alexander and a lot of the subcontractors that we work with, that’s it professional. So, so yeah, it’s really helpful. And you know, again, it’s about building, building a relationships and, and trust between each other.

Chris Martin (24:24):

Well, Darren, thank you for taking time to talk safety with us. I know we’d love to have you come back on and we can continue to have this conversation on safety. We can reach out to you in the future and have you back on the Building PA Podcast. That would be fantastic. Thank you. Brought a lot of great insight and best practices clearly from the Alexander Company. So thank you for that and thanks for your time.

Jon O’Brien (24:53):

Yeah. Thanks, Darren.

Darren Rech:

Absolutely. Thanks for having me guys have a good day. Thank you, you too.

Building PA Podcast: Season 1 – Episode 2: COVID-19 Impact on PA’s Construction Industry

NOTE: This COVID-19 conversation was recorded on April 1, 2020; a lot has changed since then. For more information visit Building PA Podcast.

Chris Martin (00:01):

Welcome to the Building PA Podcast, a podcast specifically for the construction industry and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am Co-Host Chris Martin with Atlas Marketing, where we tell stories for people who build things. And I’m with my partner, Jon O’Brien.

Jon O’Brien:

Hey everyone. How’s it going, Jon O’Brien from the Keystone Contractors Association based right here in good old central Pennsylvania. Hello, Chris.

Chris Martin:

Hello, Jon. Hey, I know that you have been a busy these days, and I know that, you know, our topic today is a very timely, special topic. We are going to be talking about, and Jon has been instrumental in this. So I get the tables are turned a little bit here. This isn’t our normal interview process, but today we’re going to talk about the Coronavirus and its impact on the construction industry. And like I said, Jon has been integral and very, very busy to say the least for the last few weeks. And even though this is not a typical Building PA Podcast topic, we want to start with this and share as much information as we can through the podcast platform. So, Jon, I know that the Keystone Contractors Association and GCAP, the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania have been very, very instrumental in helping get the industry back to work these last few weeks, but can you explain for our listeners the difference between the KCA and the GCAP associations?

Jon O’Brien (01:50):

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that’s probably good because there does seem to be a lot of confusion with the two different groups. So yeah, KCA, the Keystone Contractors Association is a full service construction trade association. We offer typical services that contractor associations offer like labor relations, safety services, marketing, community service, you name it, we’re pretty busy, pretty active helping our members. That’s KCA. So, yeah, KCA was founded in 1940.  And as far as GCAP, which is the General Contractor Association of Pennsylvania, GCAP is an association of associations. So KCA is a member of GCAP. And our other level one members include the Master Builders Association in Pittsburgh and in Philadelphia, the General Building Contractors Association and GCAP’s primary and main purpose is to be the advocate for the commercial construction industry. Let me make that clear commercial construction industry, because that adds some confusion as well. When you mix in residential and people think we cover it all, but no, we’re busy enough just in the commercial world. Yeah.

Chris Martin (03:19):

That is more than enough time, effort and energy to be put toward one at one element.

Jon O’Brien (03:24):

Yeah. So, the for the staff, I double as the executive director of both KCA and GCAP, and I’m also the registered lobbyist for GCAP. So don’t hold that lobbyist thing against me, you know,

Chris Martin (03:40):

And, and more importantly you, that lobbyist hat has been in on your head for quite some time now for the last couple of weeks regarding the pandemic that we’re in, but can you give us an update on what GCAP is doing, but maybe some other associations are coming together to really work for the industry. Can you tell us what’s been going on?

Jon O’Brien (04:04):

Absolutely. If you like, why don’t I start with the work shut down. Governor Wolf posted the Executive Order on Thursday, March 19th, leading up to that Thursday afternoon, there was talk, you know, earlier in that week, and even the week before this might be coming, you know, once we heard NHL canceled and they’re not canceled, but postpone season of Major League Baseball, you know, all these big corporate events everything’s shutting down there is rumblings and a lot of rumors that construction might be shutting down as well. And out of the blue, out of nowhere on a Thursday evening governor Wolf just imposed a workstop of all nonessential businesses and per his administration’s classification, construction was listed as a non-essential classification. So being that, you know, I have a hundred members of KCA, and then you factor in GCAP with another 700 construction members….

Jon O’Brien (05:12):

So Thursday night, I think the Executive Order was issued around 4:00 PM or so an hour before the work day shut down. And from four o’clock till, probably two in the morning, I was on the phone all night, receiving text messages, emails. “What’s this mean” “what’s going on?” And there was no heads up that this was going to happen. As you could expect, because this was such a drastic measure, the communication did not stop Friday either. So it’s a Friday, yeah we had tons of questions Friday morning. About 7:00 AM I had a conference call with Labor & Industry. You know the while the Executive Order came in on Thursday, all work was to cease, I think, close the business that Friday, the 20th, and then it was extended to Monday the 23rd. But regardless of that time period, we got most of that and there were some issues with inspections because we already had counties that were getting hit pretty hard by the Coronavirus. So we had some issues and L&I was telling their inspectors, if there is any hesitation at all, and you don’t feel comfortable inspecting a job site, you know, do not go, just use your best judgment. From members they were saying the use of their best judgment meant none of them are showing up.

Jon O’Brien (06:48):

Yeah. So there were some major Philadelphia projects and they wanted to find out what was going on. So we scheduled this call first thing in the morning with Labor & Industry. And we’re, the call was just intent, designed to talk about inspections and how will the inspection process work during this, during this shutdown? And we were wondering, is it possible to do like virtual inspections? Is that even a possibility? And we’re still looking into that. But then at the same time with this shutdown and earlier in the week, other businesses were shuttering down. And this led to a, I think a five thousand unemployed, I got the numbers in my head. They’re all jumbled together, but there was something like 75,000 unemployment cases within the unemployment office in one day.

Jon O’Brien (07:47):

And then that just added up every day that first week. So Monday the 16th, 17th, 18th, I think by the end of the week, they were over 500,000. So that call that we just wanted to talk about inspections. We had tons of questions about unemployment compensation and, you know what should we be getting out to our members? What should employers be doing? What should their employees be doing? And, Oh, it was a crazy day that Friday. And then it did not ease up on Saturday, Saturday, the 21st, we had some good email exchanges and some good conference calls with GCAP and other government organizations. And now I was talking to a lot of labor leaders as well, and collectively amongst all of us, you know, labor-management, we decided that a good route to kick off our plan of action would be for GCAP and the Pennsylvania Construction Trades Council should send a joint letter signed by labor and management and send that Governor Wolf.

Jon O’Brien (08:54):

So Sunday the president of the Building Trades, my good buddy, Frank, Frank Sirianni. I hope you’re listening Frank. Frank and I swapped emails and texts and phone calls all day that Sunday, that would be what, I think March 22nd. We wanted to put together a nice communication to the governor and why we felt construction is essential to our economy and to our society and why we thought construction should keep working. So yeah, we finished late night, you know, midnight or so on Sunday, we had a product we were happy with. We sent it to the GCAP Board and were like there’s not a lot of time to review this, but let me know if you’re okay with this. Next thing, you know, Monday morning, March 23rd, some of the leaders on both sides, labor and management, weren’t quite sure if we should be reacting so fast to this shutdown order and, you know, there is talk about, should we let the dust settle a little?

Jon O’Brien (09:59):

I mean, we’re inside learning about this COVID-19 and the whole pandemic. We’re still learning about this. Are we really doing the right thing? You know, pushing the economy to move forward as if this doesn’t exist, you know, we should just ignore it and just keep working, you know, so there was a lot of questions internally, you know, and ultimately we couldn’t come to a decision. So we decided just to, just to sit back a little bit and let the dust settle. And when I say sit back, I mean, sit back on side of the lobbying. So while we were sitting out on the lobbying game, we kind of shifted our attention towards the area of safety and you know, through GCAP we’re rather fortunate to have that partnership with Master Builders and the General Building Contractors in Philadelphia. We’re fortunate to be partners with those two great associations. And we created within probably three, four days, maybe a week, we created the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Response Plan for Construction,

Chris Martin (11:19):

Excuse me, I know it’s good I’ve seen that plan. And not only is it thorough but it, it lays out a solid way for the industry to showcase not only how important this is to our industry, but more importantly, the level of intensity that we’re taking this as it should be.

Jon O’Brien (11:49):

Yeah. I mean, the plan is pretty awesome, you know, I mean, you saw it, but hopefully our audience as too. We’ve posted it online. It’s on our website. It’s kind of all over the place. I believe through the Master Builders and their Director of Safety Bob McCall. And I believe in Bob used a lot of connections and a lot of his relationships through the Associated General Contractors. He used those relationships to kind of form what I was calling the dream team of safety. I mean, they had safety professionals from across the country come together to really create this plan. And it’s awesome from details all the way down to making sure your autos and all sorts of transportation devices are cleaned daily make sure 24 hours a day, they were cleaned. You don’t see too many safety plans that go that into detail.

Chris Martin (12:49):

Yeah. That was one thing that I was shocked when I saw was just the level of detail that cleanliness comes into. And let’s be honest.

Jon O’Brien (12:58):

Yeah.

Chris Martin (12:58):

Our industry is not exactly the cleanest. So, you know well, Jon, let me ask you this, as far as the, you know, that process that you’ve gone through has there been any I mean, obviously there’s been a lot of progress since that initial announcement from Governor Wolf, but on the legislative front, can you explain a little bit about what not only the KCA and the GCAP is doing, but where things could potentially go as it relates to the industry?

Jon O’Brien (13:32):

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So early on when the shut down order came, there was a process that the governor allowed to have projects get waived, you know, and they could proceed. Yeah. So there is a lot of confusion with these projects cause you had similar projects submitted by contractors and some were approved, some were denied. You had elected officials, you know, state reps telling contractors if your project gets denied, resubmit it again, because a different set of eyes might see it a different way. And sure enough, you know, projects were getting submitted and approved the second time. So it was, it was crazy.

Jon O’Brien (14:21):

Yeah. And then further confusing the matter was this past Friday. So that would have been what I forget what the, my phone’s a little slow…the 27th. So Friday the 27th in the evening people within the governor’s office were sending emails out to the industry saying that K-12 school construction work is now allowed to proceed assuming they get approval at the local level. So school districts would have to approve this process. And we had that added another layer of confusion because there’s a lot of contractors that submitted waivers for projects

Jon O’Brien (15:12):

You know, they were denied in some cases, in most cases, I think all school was denied up until the 27th. So they were denied and then schools, we had schools out in the Pittsburgh area, tell contractors, just keep working. You don’t have to worry about that waiver process. And we’re like, what? And then you get this one line statement from the governor’s office that Friday night saying, you know you’re allowed to proceed if approved at the local level. And we’re like do we need more proof than just this little email? I don’t know. It’s not even that the top official, you know, it’s like, you know, a couple levels down, they sending this email.

Chris Martin (15:50):

You know you have been working your tail off here along with so many others that are in the industry. And, I want to emphasize how much I appreciate not only what you’re doing, but what everybody is doing to help move this along. But are you, you mentioned earlier there was a, a little bit of a, you know, some contractors say, “hey, wait a second are we doing the right thing here?” Are you seeing that there is a I don’t want to say a separation if you will, between the industry one being, “Hey, let’s get back to work.” The others, “maybe we shouldn’t be doing this.”

Jon O’Brien (16:40):

Yeah, I’m seeing that, but I think a good thing for our cause was creating that safety plan and we had some legislators in both the Senate and the House that want to legislate the industry returning to work, which I personally, I don’t believe that’s the right route to take. I think that would take too long. I think the better approach would be leaders in both chambers and industry leaders sit down with the governor and his staff and, you know, talk their way through. Cause we keep saying, you know, along with a safety plan

Jon O’Brien (17:21):

Much like the schools can work because you know, schools are shut down for who knows how long, at least until the end of April. So those projects can proceed because, you know, there’s a trust that the industry knows how to operate safely and there’s no students and there’s no faculty within those schools. And I think that same logic should be applied to the entire industry. And if projects are currently halted, you know, halfway through the project and the business has shut down, there’s going to be no harm to the community or the occupants, so the industry should be able to get in there assuming they have a good safety plan, which is part of the K through 12, the school districts approach, the plan at the local level was okay, the governor’s office is giving us the authority to proceed. Our only requirement is we want to see your social distancing safety plan and we want to approve it. And I actually heard just yesterday, there was a handful of contractors that submitted our GCAP safety plan as their company safety plan. And it was approved every time. So that was always good to hear when you spend time creating something and knowing it’s getting used within the industry.

Chris Martin (18:39):

Yeah, absolutely. Especially with such a quick turnaround. Well, let’s just get this because this is a thought that’s been kind of percolating in my head, but potentially when we are back to a, some level of normalcy, not only within the industry, but you know in society as a whole, has there been any talk about what are the steps when we get back to that normalcy? In other words you know, Governor Wolf said, okay we’re going to start off with no big groups of 200. Then it went down to a hundred, then it went to 50 then to 10 and then everybody stay at home. Is there a ramping up? Have you heard that there’s a ramping up process or are we still too early in this process to figure out how we’re going to get back to work?

Jon O’Brien (19:35):

Well they are letting some highway projects resume. I thought that was a no brainer because they’re outside. And when you drive by a highway project, I’m not a highway construction expert by any means, but when you drive by, you don’t see people on top of each other, they’re pretty spread out in the field. So there’s the social distance aspect is covered there. So yeah, let’s approve some projects to proceed. I believe they letting 61 this week and I’m hearing there’s going to be more as far as like I said, the school districts, they’re now in the process of approving projects to proceed. We’ve actually approached the administration and leaders in both the House and the Senate and said, projects are, like I said earlier, if a location doesn’t have any occupants in it, the industry should be able to proceed. I heard word from some legislators that we should legislate, you know, only 10 people on a project at one time, and I don’t know how you quite do that. You know, it sounds like, kind of Russia to me, you know, like how many people can go inside a building and I think that decision’s up to the GC and the subcontractors to manage their workforce.

Chris Martin (20:59):

Yeah. And obviously with a safety plan in place, or at least maybe it’s not GCAP plans that people are using, but their own individual plans. Yeah. There is a policy, but has there also been talks with more on the legal side cause this, that was my first concern when we started talking about job sites, getting shut down and those type of things, we have that with our clients too. But has there been any conversation from a standpoint of contracts and, you know, a start date is now let’s, let’s say this, the pandemic goes into May. That’s my stating this for the conversation. I’m not saying that’s what it is. But if it goes into May and there are job sites that were, or jobs that were supposed to be completed in May, what would be the impact to the actual completion of that project?

Jon O’Brien (22:02):

Yeah. I mean those questions are coming in. It’s just going to be a legal nightmare to answer your questions. It’s going to be, you’re listening to our podcasts. I mean, you have worries about the supply chain and, you know, is the material pricing gonna increase, contract and might’ve estimated steel at X. And now with all the, the issues when the industry comes out full tilt, you know, that price might be jacked up a little bit and, how’s that going to be adjusted? And you mentioned the schedules, how are the schedules going to be adjusted? And then, manpower within the unions I’m hearing now that the unions are creating two lists, a list of people that want to work during the pandemic and people that do not want to work.

Jon O’Brien (23:03):

So now as more projects go, there is a contractor able to work, but do they have enough people and as more projects come out, you’re going to need more people. Yeah. And then plus factor in the projects that can proceed now, the healthcare emergency repairs, the waiver approved projects, the PennDOT projects, there’s more and more projects. And I’m getting word this week that some subs’ workers just aren’t showing up. There was a project in a Harrisburg area where the whole subcontractor team didn’t show up. And they said, we feel as if we’re putting our family at risk by working at this time. And so I mean, legally, what do you do there? I mean, yeah, yeah.

Chris Martin (23:54):

It definitely kind of adds a whole different level to contract management and contract administration. Yeah. Cause I know I’ve talked with other business owners who have said, you know we’re leaving it up to our employees and if they feel like they’re putting themselves in danger or harming their family, you know, there’s also that element. And I know we’re not really gonna talk about this now, cause we’re focusing on the industry, but you know, the element of pay over periods of time, I’ve had people ask me about, you know, our business at Atlas Marketing and how is the pandemic impacting our business? And fortunately for us, for me, my response is, well, you know, it’s impacting us, but it’s not impacting us as much as it is the industries that we work in.

Chris Martin (24:50):

And so, you know, but it’s interesting to hear how other business owners are addressing it. And that comes back to the whole contract administration aspect because that’s going to change the way that things are. Jon, let me ask you this, where do you see this going, like from again from your efforts on the working with the administration with Governor Wolf and his team and other association leaders as well as trade and industry leaders, where do you see this going? Like what do you think are the next steps here?

Jon O’Brien (25:26):

So we had a GCAP call, I think that was about a week ago or so. And you know, they asked where do I see it going? And I said, well let me get out my crystal ball here, let’s see what’s going on here. So I’m kinda off a few days: I thought all highway work would start this past Monday, but it started today I guess. Okay. So I was off a day or two. And then I thought the sixth, this upcoming Monday, I thought that would be a full two week for the shutdown and all projects construction would resume. And then I that all construction would resume Monday the sixth. So I thought it would be highway the first week and then commercial building the next week. But now that these numbers are coming in and Governor Wolf does seem pretty firm in his stance, which is good. You know, he’s trying to do what he thinks his best for the health of Pennsylvania. Sure. It might’ve been a knee jerk reaction at first. Maybe we could have eased into it a little bit more, but, but still, I mean, he has the right intentions.

Jon O’Brien (26:44):

I’m thinking now maybe like the 13th, I think we might need another solid week, you know, of all workers coming back. Okay. Just so you know, as you hear every day in the news, as we needed another week to flatten the curve. So we couldn’t have an interview on the coronavirus without talking about the curve.

Chris Martin (27:05):

That is true. I honestly never heard of that phrase until you know, March of 2020, so

Jon O’Brien (27:12):

Yes, absolutely. Yeah. But still our stance, I mean, that’s me personally, that’s my opinion personally, but within GCAP, you know, the stance is if a project’s unoccupied right now, the industry should be in there finishing the project.

Chris Martin (27:31):

Well on behalf of everyone who works in the construction industry. I thank you for your efforts. I know that you and other association and Building Trades and industry leaders have been working extremely long hours and dedicating yourselves to moving our industry to where it was just a few weeks ago. But thank you. And thank you for sharing this information with us. And as we continue, we’ll provide updates but you know, feel free to download more episodes. We have other episodes of Building PA Podcast available and thank you for listening. And Jon, thank you again for all your efforts.

Jon O’Brien (28:18):

You bet. And if anyone out there has any questions, concerns, comments, and wants to reach me. My email is Jon@keystonecontractors.com or give me a call. Either way, I’m here for you.

Chris Martin (28:33):

Perfect. And then I can attest that he is there. We’ve had so many calls just between he and I just on podcast related information that have been rescheduled or pushed to another day. And I can attest to Jon’s effort for the industry. So again well done and thank you.

Chris Martin (28:54):