The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 31, 2000

NOVA Award celebrates industry's ingenuity

By The Building Tradesman

The ingenuity of construction workers received tip of the hat on March 16 amid hundreds of construction industry movers and shakers from around the world.

"Throughout history, construction innovations have been made by craftspeople, to improve the way they work, and to help them work more efficiently at reduced cost," said Boilermakers International Union President Charles Jones. "Some people think that innovations don't come from people working with the tools; they're wrong."

Jones was the keynote speaker at the 11th annual Construction Innovation Forum (CIF) Awards celebration at Laurel Manor in Livonia. The forum is an international nonprofit group that recognizes innovations in construction which improves the industry's quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

"The CIF is not here just to hand out awards," said CIF Chairman Roger Lane. "We are on a mission to help spur on the innovation and change needed to keep our industry thriving in the new millenium"

The only Michigan company among the five NOVA Award winners this year was General Motors, for designing a guardrail on wheels that eliminates the need for parapet walls for fall protection.

Other innovations that received awards were a steel-free concrete bridge deck, a rapid deployment barge and crane that can quickly be deployed overland on an 18-wheeler, a lock-up device to transfer loads between bridge supports, and friction pendulum seismic isolation bearings to reduce structural damage in bridges and buildings during earthquakes.

The Boilermakers' MOST (Mobilization, Optimization, Stabilization and Training) Program won a NOVA award two years ago. Under Jones' leadership, the program has become a nationwide model system for safety training and for saving workers and employers time and money by standardizing alcohol and welding skill tests, and making the results easily available to employers. Instead of being tested on every job, workers take one test, and participating employers can determine a workers' qualifications by tapping into a computer database.

"After we consulted with contractors and owners, we adopted the program nationwide," Jones said. "The MOST program has made workers more safety conscious and has saved everyone involved hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Our goal is zero accidents - and that's not pie in the sky. There are several lodges that have worked large jobs without a lost-time accident. Over the course of the MOST program we have avoided 10,600 accidents costing $324 million dollars."

ATTENDING THE NOVA Awards dinner with the Boilermakers are IU V.P. Larry McManamon, IU Rep. Ed Rokuski, CIF Chairman Roger Lane of DTE Energy, IU President Charles Jones, Local 169 Bus. Mgr. John Marek, 169 BA Don Cochran, 169's Jim McDonnell, 169 BA Tony Jacobs, 169's Greg Covetz, Larry Bittner and Keith Paquette, and 169 BA Babe Jenerou.