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Courthouse Construction Update
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November 20, 2013
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Broward County > New Courthouse > Newsletter > November 20, 2013
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Courthouse Update: Safety First

There has been considerable activity on the new County Courthouse construction site as workers erect the structure and install precast concrete panels on the building’s exterior. As part of the construction process, the contractor has begun to sandblast some of the panels to even out the panel coloration and remove surface blemishes. Recently, the project team received feedback from some in the area regarding sandblasting activity including whether permits were issued and if there are any harmful impacts associated with the process.

Since the project began, Broward County and James A. Cummings Inc., the general contractor, have worked closely with their own onsite safety teams, City of Fort Lauderdale, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to ensure worker and job site safety.

Broward County officials, also on the job site, are confident that the general contractor is pursuing the necessary permitting, due diligence and safe work practices in its construction operations. Throughout the project, the contractor has worked with the City of Fort Lauderdale on permitting issues and work completed has been regularly inspected by the city, the design consultants and Broward County. The project’s master building permit governs the overall project, with subcontractor/trade permits governing many of the smaller elements of the work. If it is determined that there are any elements of work that have proceeded without the proper permits, the contractor will work to secure that permitting immediately. The entire project team, including the County, its contractors, and consultants are committed to a safe working environment for the public and property owners.

In the meantime, sandblasting operations have been temporarily curtailed in order to review and reinforce the project’s operational safeguards and procedures.

Here are some facts of interest:

  • Sandblasting is a routine part of the construction process. A sandblasting safety plan is in place and is being followed.
  • Sandblasting is not done on a continuous basis. It is an intermittent activity done on specific areas of the building.
  • OSHA has a daily presence on the construction site and City of Fort Lauderdale inspectors typically visit six days per week. None of the project operations have been identified or cited as being unsafe.
  • All sandblasting is performed in an area closed to public access.
  • All Sandblasting Operators are wearing personal protective equipment.

Next Steps

Once the project team determines that all appropriate operational safeguards and procedures are being adhered to, isolated sandblasting will resume in areas requiring corrective cleaning. Sandblasting and other pressure cleaning may also be utilized to clean the exterior of the building just prior to occupancy. Even though no public safety issues have been identified, in an abundance of caution and in response to community concerns, James Cummings Inc., will:

  • Continue to perform sandblasting only on the weekends, when there are fewer people about and less activity downtown.
  • Limit sandblasting operations to days when winds are calm to alleviate impacts on neighbors.
  • Provide dates and times of sandblasting for posting to Broward.org/NewCourthouse.
  • Implement additional environmental controls around the work and the area where sandblasting is being performed.

Unfortunately, not all the aspects of a large construction project located in the epicenter of a downtown business district are pleasant. Construction sites are dusty and dirty. They can be noisy and at times can be disruptive to normal operations. However, Broward County and James A. Cummings Inc., remain committed to responding to any public health and safety concerns that emerge from the construction, and to maintaining the safest possible work site for workers, employees and members of the surrounding community.

Public safety and code compliance will remain top priorities as construction progresses and the new 20-story, state-of-the-art Courthouse becomes an impressive addition to the downtown Fort Lauderdale skyline. Please follow our progress on Broward.org/Newcourthouse, Twitter.com/CourtNewsFlash, and email your questions or concerns to newcourthouse@broward.org.

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