Angry that Shit Still Happens

For the last few years, the MBCEA has been promoting our signature program, Accreditation for Metal Building Assemblers. We believe programs such as this will elevate our trade and emphasize our commitment to safety and training. We know that AC478 is key element  for the integrity of our buildings and our trade. We are also heavily invested in producing long overdue and much need training materials for temporary bracing. Later this year we will have a guidebook for office use and a training video for field use. 

But no matter what we do, is it enough? I am angry as I write this; angry that accidents still happen. Angry that s*** still happens.

In early May, a metal frame collapsed and a crane fell at a CA construction site. OSHA  is still investigating. Fortunately, no one was injured. The MBCEA focuses on initiatives like AC478 and the Temp Bracing Guidebook and Training Video because every time a building collapses we (meaning all metal building contractors and erectors)get sucker punched. There is a cost to these failures that goes well beyond the loss of life and equipment. These failures are a black mark on our good reputation and a potential threat to our very livelihoods.

I am not making excuses and I know where the buck stops but also want to get something off my chest:

Manufacturers, Architects, Designers, Engineers, etc. are not perfect. There are good ones and bad ones. They are human and everyone makes a mistake now and then. Field personnel, hell everyone involved, have a responsibility to speak up and question things that do not look right.

I am currently working on a project that my crew had well in hand. I was not scheduled to be on site but for some reason showed up and saw something that did not look right. I questioned the stability of a line. My foreman agreed it looked wrong but pointed out they were assembling as per the drawings. Well long story short, it was wrong. Somewhere along the way from design to permits to final construction drawings, someone had mistakenly copied an endwall connection down the line, altering the original modular columns. The engineering team all assumed everything was still nicely connected and didn’t notice the change. The PM overlooked the change, assuming it was done for a reason.

Fortunately all’s well that end’s well but what if we hadn’t questioned it? I am not talking liability that’s a different subject but what if the line had failed? My guys’ lives are on the line, and so is my reputation. I urge all my fellow contractors and erectors to trust your gut; speak up and question; have pride in your carefully honed knowledge and experience. We have made significant advances in our capabilities and in our commitment to safety and training. We are not just some dumb construction worker; we are highly trained skilled craftsman.

But still, too often it is the erector that gets blamed, maybe because it is easy to throw shade at the poorly trained rascals in the pickup truck, but it is not always our fault.

I want to remind everyone reading this publication that the erectors are not the bad guys. We are not the enemy. And guess what? We are all on the same team. Contractors and erectors often catch mistakes, correct errors, suggest improvements. We are invested in the success of your buildings as much as you are. 

The Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association is investing in programs like AC478 and Temporary Bracing because it’s the right thing to do; because we care. But we can’t be expected to carry all the water. We rely on you for product training and for the integrity of your designs. We count on you to welcome our feedback and encourage our participation in your design processes. We are in this together.

Mike Reynolds

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