by Toolbox Staff
After a number of delays, officials in Dubai are ready to clamp down on unsafe building practices when a new fire safety code is introduced.
The new code will set out steep fines for contractors and building consultants who are found to be using non-regulation materials and faulty fire safety material in their projects, including flammable cladding on the exteriors of buildings.
Maj.-Gen. Rashid Al Matroushi, the director of Dubai Civil Defense, which oversees firefighters and safety, told The National, an English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, that exterior cladding itself was not a fire safety risk, but it could become one if the material used is shoddy or installed improperly.
The new code was set to be introduced in May 2016, although as of July, when a fire broke out at a 75-storey residential building in Dubai Marina, it had not yet been released. No injuries were reported in that blaze.
Officials in New York City introduced new measures to increase crane safety in the city, spurred on by the death of a crane operator in early February.
The new measures introduced by Mayor Bill de Blasio include lowering the wind-speed threshold at which crawler cranes must be shut down, and having uniformed personnel such as police officers enforce sidewalk and street closures related to crane use, a task previously left up to construction crews. Crane operators must also inform nearby residents and businesses before cranes are moved; previously, notification was only necessary when cranes were first installed.
However, in an op-ed piece for Crain’s New York Business in April, councilman Ben Kallos said that de Blasio’s safety plan is “lacking in a few critical areas,” most notably in his decision to appeal a New York Supreme Court decision that upheld a long-standing local experience requirement for crane operators in New York City.
“No U.S. city is as congested or densely populated as New York, making crane operation here a great risk not only to operators but to surrounding buildings and pedestrians. … It would only make sense to ensure crane operators continue to be trained and licensed in New York to prevent future crane accidents and fatalities,” Kallos wrote.
As temperatures soared in Montreal to record highs in July, officials had to step in and shut down a construction site to make sure workers didn’t succumb to heat-related illness.
About 2,600 workers were sent home on Friday, July 15, from the site of the future Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) in downtown Montreal after the Quebec Worker Safety Board found that improper ventilation at the site was putting workers at an elevated risk of heat exhaustion.
Some fans had been installed at the site to allow for better air circulation, but with temperatures reaching 33.7 C and Environment Canada issuing a heat warning for Montreal, they simply weren’t effective enough.
Some workers had already left the site the day before the Quebec Worker Safety Board stepped in, citing heat exhaustion, which can result in dizziness, loss of balance and fainting. The board planned to keep the construction site closed until its experts could confirm that conditions were once again safe.
Officials in Seattle were answering some big questions about safety as a major transportation project was set to get underway in early May.
The Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated highway that is one of Seattle’s main north-south corridors, is currently being replaced with a tunnel due to earthquake damage, and the entire road had to be closed in May as drilling began underneath the structure, causing major headaches for commuters.
David Sowers, an official with the Washington State Department of Transportation, told local television station Q13 that the state government was taking every precaution to ensure the drilling didn’t damage the viaduct itself and prolong the closure.
“If there’s any kind of issue that develops, people will be able to respond immediately. If repairs need to be made or the machine has to be adjusted, that will happen in real-time and the contractor will continue to mine. We will not open the viaduct back up until it is safe for the travelling public,” Sowers said.
Luckily, though, the whole operation went smoothly, and the viaduct was reopened to traffic five days earlier than scheduled.
Safety will play a big factor in deciding who gets the contract to build one of the most ambitious high-speed rail projects ever attempted.
In mid-July, the prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding between the two countries, officially kicking off a proposed 350-kilometre high-speed rail line project linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The entire trip would only take about 90 minutes.
Companies from China, Japan and South Korea are currently jockeying to be the one to build the line. China may have the edge when it comes to leading-edge technology and the ability to keep costs under control, but Japan is banking on its experience and impeccable safety record. Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed railway lines have been operating since 1964 and, in that time, not a single person has been killed riding on one of its bullet trains. In 2015, a state-of-the-art Japanese maglev train set a world speed record, topping out at 603 km/h along a test track.