Safety Director Hired to Oversee WTC SiteFeb 12, 2008
The World Trade Center site’s owner has hired a safety director to oversee ongoing construction of skyscrapers, a transit hub and a Sept. 11 memorial at ground zero following a string of accidents at other city construction sites.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and general contractors already have more than two dozen safety managers at different projects on the site. The Port Authority said it was hiring one director to coordinate work at all the projects, hoping to prevent accidents as skyscrapers rise and construction gets busier in a tight 16-acre space.
“It’s critical that we carefully orchestrate the numerous safety programs … where the equivalent of five Empire State Buildings will rise simultaneously,” Port Authority executive director Anthony Shorris said Tuesday.
Several other sites have added safety staff in recent months as the number of high-rise construction accidents more than doubled last year compared with the year before. The accidents included a deadly fire last August at a skyscraper across from ground zero.
City officials have proposed new rules for contractors, and the Fire Department of New York has stepped up inspections around the city. Last week the fire department conducted the first of what will be regular 15-day inspections at ground zero.
The last serious injury at the World Trade Center site was last May, when a worker was hit by a hose pumping material into a retaining wall and fell into a coma.
The new site safety director, Joseph Schwed, started last week and said that crane safety, the proper use of compressed gas cylinders for welding and protective safety harnesses for workers were all critical issues on the site.
“Clearly, fall protection is an issue and will become a greater issue as the site goes vertical,” he said.
Schwed, who was the Port Authority’s safety engineer for four years in the 1990s, has worked for the past 11 years heading health and safety operations for manufacturer Honeywell International.