Construction Industry News

How to Add 39 Tons of Steel to the Top of the Empire State Building

June 21, 2017
Tom Sawyer - Engineering News-Record

When engineers made plans to reinforce and upgrade the carrying capacity of the Empire State Building’s mast and tower by adding 39 tons of steel, they had to find a way to protect pedestrians from falling rivets, tools and materials. Roofing the observatory and building bridges over the sidewalks 1,250 ft below were lousy options. The top of the iconic New York City building has an open-air observatory at the 86th floor and premium viewing spaces at the 102nd and 103rd levels. Annually, these spaces host about 4.3 million visitors and generate about $85 million in revenue. Soaring above the busy streets, a 200-ft-tall steel broadcast tower bristles with antennas that generate about $20 million more. Together, the observatory, mast and tower are the crowning jewel of the 86-year-old icon, which is owned by the Empire State Realty Trust Inc.

Mr. Sawyer may be contacted at

The New Promises of Construction Equipment Telematics

June 15, 2017
Clive Winward - Construction Informer

There are some big shifts taking place in the field of construction equipment telematics. Starting with the integration of telematics devices in vehicles right from the manufacturers, to the standardization and integration of telematics data across various business functions, the future of telematics has never seemed so full of potential for fleet based businesses. Perhaps more than any other industry, the construction industry is set to reap the benefits of the seismic shift taking place in construction equipment telematics.

Construction Adds 11,000 Jobs in May

June 5, 2017
Tom Ichniowski - Engineering News-Record

The construction industry added 11,000 jobs during May and its unemployment rate improved from April’s level but it was slightly worse than the year-earlier figure, the Labor Dept. has reported.

Mr. Ichniowski may be contacted at

Construction Women Push To Earn What They're Worth

May 10, 2017
Debra K. Rubin - Engineering News-Record

Noting their contributions to "the power of the purse" for their employers, women in construction are pushing for parity in compensation, which continues to lag behind that of male peers.

Ms. Rubin may be contacted at

The Unfulfilled Expectations of Prefabrication

May 3, 2017
Jim Parsons - Engineering News-Record

Many of us have experienced that proverbial “lightbulb moment,” a flash of insight when the complexities of a new or challenging concept finally make sense. But when it comes to the nuances of prefabrication, a recent industry survey says many contractors are still in the dark.

ENR may be contacted at

Survey: Workers Intentionally Take 'Calculated' Safety Risks

April 20, 2017
Scott Van Voorhis - Engineering News-Record

A survey of construction workers across the country finds that, at least sometimes, more than half purposefully ignore their training to take "calculated risks" on the worksite.

ENR may be contacted at

State Dept. Plans 6 More Embassy Contracts This Year

April 13, 2017
Tom Ichniowski - Engineering News-Record

The State Dept. is pushing forward with its embassy construction program, expecting to award contracts this year to build four new facilities and renovate two others. It also is seeking a cadre of design teams for a range of tasks on unspecified future projects. But the program’s 2018 funding won’t be determined for months.

Mr. Ichniowski may be contacted at

How 'Normal' Activities Led to Three Fatal Construction Accidents

April 5, 2017
Richard Korman - Engineerings News-Record

At these jobsites, sloppy practices seem to have been routine, or normalized, and deadly. A Kentucky trench excavation (above) was braced by a trench box, creating a feeling of security, but the trench box was too short. During a collapse, spoil piled at the edge of the trench poured in, killing a 19-year-old laborer, according to a report from the state’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program.

Mr. Korman may be contacted at

Subcontractor Sentenced in Chicago DBE Fraud Case

March 29, 2017
Jim Parsons - Engineering News-Record

A former Chicago-area concrete and carpentry subcontractor has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for fronting a women’s business enterprise/disadvantaged business enterprise (WBE/DBE) fraud scheme that involved multiple major public infrastructure projects.

ENR may be contacted at

How To Fix Oroville Dam

March 22, 2017
Henry W. Burke - Engineering News-Record

On Sunday, Feb. 12, California officials ordered the immediate, mandatory evacuation of 188,000 residents from towns below the Oroville Dam. Two days later, when federal and state officials deemed the dam safe, the evacuation order was rescinded, and people were allowed to return to their homes. It isn't often that hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. have to leave their homes because of worries about a catastrophic structural failure.

ENR may be contacted at

Trip Up the Grim Reaper with a Safety Program

March 16, 2017
Duane Craig - Construction Informer

People who are serious about business won’t tell you that planning doesn’t work. Yet, that’s what countless small businesses do when they “wing it,” instead of having a safety program. Why? Because a safety program is really about so much more than just putting a ‘method to the madness.’ It also really helps to make people more aware and thoughtful about the dangers they face everyday. That’s exactly what’s needed to avoid the madness you see below.

Mr. Craig may be contacted at

DHS Seeks Proposals for Border-Wall Prototypes

March 1, 2017
Tom Ichniowski - Engineering News-Record

In a step toward meeting one of President Trump’s most prominent campaign pledges, the Dept. of Homeland Security is seeking firms to provide prototypes of a U.S.-Mexico border barrier.

Mr. Ichniowski may be contacted at

Actions by Judges and Lawmakers Could Alter Contracting in California

February 23, 2017
JT Long & Debra K. Rubin - Engineering News-Record

Separate actions earlier this month by California Supreme Court justices and two state legislators could set some new parameters for construction contracting in the state.

Ms. Rubin may be contacted at

Senate Bill Would Bar Davis-Bacon on Highway Construction Projects

February 16, 2017
John Guzzon - Engineering News-Record

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is pushing legislation that would suspend the Davis-Bacon Act’s prevailing-wage provisions on federal highway construction contracts. Supporters of Flake’s bill include the Associated Builders and Contractors. But leaders of the building-trade unions blasted the proposal.

Mr. Guzzon may be contacted at

House Votes to Derail Contractor 'Blacklisting' Rule

February 2, 2017
Tom Ichniowski - Engineering News-Record

The House has voted to block an Obama administration regulation that would require prospective federal contractors to disclose past violations of labor and workplace-safety laws to qualify to bid on federal work.

Mr. Ichniowski may be contacted at

Silica Rule Dustup at World of Concrete 2017

January 26, 2017
Jeff Rubenstone – Engineering News-Record

Crowds were somewhat subdued at the World of Concrete equipment show, held in Las Vegas on Jan. 17-20. But while many of the more than 50,000 attendees were eager to try out ride-on concrete trowels and carnival-style games at outdoor exhibitor booths, the largest crowds on the show floor lingered at displays explaining compliance with the silica-dust exposure rule, issued last year by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The rule, which limits workers’ exposure to harmful silica dust, went into effect on June 23, 2016, and construction companies have until June 23, 2017, to fully comply.

Mr. Rubenstone may be contacted at

Energy Sector Supports 2 Million Construction Jobs, Says Analysis

January 19, 2017
Pam Radtke Russell - Engineering News-Record

More than two million construction workers are employed in energy-related activities, according to the U.S. Energy Dept’s second annual national energy employment analysis released Jan. 13.

ENR may be contacted at

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Offers Boost To P3s

January 13, 2017
Duane Craig - Construction Informer

The controversial EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program enjoys bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, and potentially offers solutions for the country’s aging infrastructure. When used to fund public private partnerships these foreign investments offer a pool of low interest, long-term funding that doesn’t have to clear bank hurdles.

But, foreign investment from the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has to create jobs in America, and one aspect of this program almost guarantees that construction jobs will count.

Mr. Craig may be contacted at

Using Portable Line Boring Machines for Construction Equipment Maintenance

January 5, 2017
Duane Craig – Construction Informer

Portable line boring machines are saving construction companies lots of money. Heavy equipment track rollers, attachment pivot point holes, and all of those turning and pivot points on construction equipment wear notoriously. Adequate lubrication goes a long way in extending the serviceable life of these attachment points but eventually repairs are needed as the holes become enlarged and out-of-round. The repair process that is widely used is to build up the inside of the hole with weld and then precisely bore the hole to the correct dimension for the pin. In some cases the hole is rebored to accommodate a bushing.

Mr. Craig may be contacted at

ARTBA Hopes to Train Thousands in Safety

December 21, 2016
Richard Korman & Janice L. Tuchman – Engineering News-Record

By training a cross section of construction team members and testing their knowledge in a safety certification program, leaders of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association believe they can put a dent in the 48,600 injuries and deaths that take place in highway work zones each year. The group announced an ambitious goal of 1,000 completed transportation-related training certifications in 2017, the program’s first full year.
Reprinted courtesy of Richard Korman, ENR and Janice L. Tuchman, ENR
Mr. Korman may be contacted at
Ms. Tuchman may be contacted at

Viewpoint: So Who Is the Designer In Construction Projects, Anyway?

December 15, 2016
Ken Rubinstein & Michael Balmer – Engineering News-Record

There are many advantages to using collaborative delivery, building information modelling (BIM) and prefabrication. By bringing contractors on board earlier in the project, owners are able to compress the schedule, avoid overlap and take advantage of each project member’s strengths. As contractors take on a greater role in the project’s development, many are also accepting an unanticipated design and professional responsibility.

ENR may be contacted at

The Home Office Is Dying

December 8, 2016
Patrick Clark – Bloomberg

Zac Atkinson keeps a desk in the corner of the living room of his one-bedroom apartment in Studio City, Calif. Not that he uses it much: The work-from-home television writer migrates from couch to kitchen table and back again as he churns out scenes for animated children’s programs. “The folks from the generation before me tend to have more of an office,” says Atkinson, 32. “Most people I know end up sitting on the sofa, and half the time the TV is on when they’re working.”

Mr. Clark can be followed on Twitter @pat_clark

Worker Killed in Freak Chop-Saw Accident

November 30, 2016
Johanna Knapschaefer – Engineering News-Record

A 28-year-old water mechanic cutting a water-pipe connection to a Duxbury, Mass., residential construction died on Nov. 16, when his circular chop saw became bound and kicked back, striking him in the neck.

ENR may be contacted at

How Mixed Reality May Change Construction Work

November 23, 2016
Jeff Rubenstone – Engineering News-Record

The worker pulls on his tool belt and snaps down the visor of his headset. It powers on, loading the 3D model of what he needs to build—in this case, the metal framing for a hospital bathroom pod. The 3D image snaps into place, staying affixed to the floor and ceiling as he moves around it. Without the aid of a tape measure or layout laser, the worker begins assembling the framing, matching the pieces to their ghostly hologram outlines and fastening connections where the model dictates.

Mr. Rubenstone may be contacted at


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