The choreography surrounding safety and prevention at Ground Zero has broken new ground, literally.
With four huge new skyscrapers going up, along with the reconstruction of a mass transit rail station, and the construction of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum commemorating those who died 10 years ago, keeping the thousands of workers safe within the 16-acre site is a monumental task.
No one wants to see another man, woman or child at Ground Zero suffer from injury. Enough blood already has been spilled.
"One more person who dies on the site is one more dead from September 11," said Shari Natovitz, vice president of risk management for Silverstein Properties Inc., in an interview in June with Risk & Insurance®.
Nearly 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Silverstein Properties and its insurance broker and underwriters are responsible for the safety of workers building three of the four new towers at the site, World Trade Center 2, 3 and 4.
There are an estimated 45 safety personnel managers on the job site representing contractors, subcontractors, developers and consultants overseeing an estimated 3,500 workers on the 16-acre site, said Mike Castelli, senior vice president and Chartis World Trade Center site manager within Chartis' Commercial Casualty Division, one of the major insurance underwriters for Silverstein Properties.
Come December, as many as 5,000 workers will be on the site working to complete the project. The first of the Silverstein Property buildings is also scheduled for occupancy in 2013.
"Everyone who walks onto the site is aware of its tragic past and the meaning and importance of the rebuilding," said Bob Azarian, assistant risk manager for Willis North America Inc., the commercial insurance broker for Silverstein Properties Inc.
No other construction project in the United States can match the complexity, logistics and coordination required for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, Azarian said.
The Port Authority, along with its broker and underwriters, is responsible for the safety of workers erecting the fourth tower, World Trade Center 1, the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, the tallest of the four buildings, and workers rebuilding the PATH tube station. WTC 1 is scheduled to open in 2013.
Agencies with stakes in worker safety include the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the New York Fire Department, the Port Authority Police Department, the Emergency Services Unit, the New York City Department of Buildings, Tishman Construction, the Turner Construction Co., and labor unions.
All operate under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority, which owns the 16-acre site. The latest revisions to the Port Authority's health, safety and environmental program run 107 pages. The program has gone through seven iterations over the past two and a half years.
"The overall World Trade Center site goals are to achieve and sustain 'zero accident and environmental incident tolerance' through continuous improvement practices," the program states.
A unique aspect of the reconstruction is the practice of "cocooning" buildings from ground up to protect workers and the public below. Azarian called it a "cutting edge best practice," going beyond traditional regulatory requirements.
Before workers are allowed to work, each must be certified and participate in an OSHA-sponsored training class that lasts 10 hours, Azarian said. In addition, workers must go through an orientation including site security, which is required by the Port Authority, as well as a project?specific orientation initiated by Silverstein's controlling contractors, he said.
Workers injured on the Silverstein-controlled buildings, World Trade Center towers, 2, 3 and 4, have access to an onsite clinic managed by healthcare firm Medcor. Onsite clinics help keep workers' comp claims costs relatively low, Azarian said.
Medcor and insurance carriers are feeding safety and loss prevention data into a software program known as E-Safety, Azarian said. E-Safety, developed by Silverstein and Willis, will allow the developer, its broker, and insurance carriers to review, manage and analyze the numbers.
In addition, safety and prevention managers of Ground Zero have instituted recognition programs to workers as an incentive to remain safe as they negotiate their way among huge cranes, power generation equipment, steel beams rising hundreds of feet into the air, and concrete chasms dropping as far as 100 feet below street level.
"We're trying to keep safety visible mostly with a carrot rather than with a stick," Natovitz.
September 6, 2011
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