The Chino Valley Solar Project provides 21 megawatts of power for Arizona Public Service customers, generated by more than 77,000 photovoltaic modules outfitted with a single-axis tracking system. Construction included 630,000 cu yd of earthwork and 13,000 ft of 8-ft-high perimeter fence.

Image courtesy McCarthy Building Cos.
Chino Valley Solar, Chino Valley, Ariz.
Image courtesy McCarthy Building Cos.
Chino Valley Solar, Chino Valley, Ariz.

Built on a 200-acre site and requiring more than 126,000 man-hours, the project was completed without any OSHA recordable incidents or lost-time accidents.

Judges were especially impressed by the unblemished safety record, considering that the vast majority of workers were new hires to general contractor McCarthy Building Cos. More than 70 local workers from the Chino Valley were hired for the project, all of whom were required to complete the three phases of the company's employee training program.

Mike Corso, project director for McCarthy, says as important as the safety training program was, it was key to provide workers with clear, attainable and fun goals like gift cards and free meals for individuals and teams that excelled.

"Each jobsite does it differently, but the bottom line is you have to have incentives," Corso says.

Even though the majority of the crew was new, the project was the first for which McCarthy self-performed pile driving. In all, nearly 18,000 piles were driven and the construction team enacted numerous protocols to ensure the safest possible environment.

The protocols included utilizing a special grabber on a Bobcat to lift the piles, caution-tagging every torque tube and making the use of gloves mandatory. Those working near the pile drivers were also issued headphone radios, which provided hearing protection.

"We wanted to take all of the soft-tissue injury risk out of it," Corso says.

Because the project included the equivalent of 440 miles of linear welds, the construction team provided welders with fans to provide sufficient ventilation.

An industrial hygienist was also hired to evaluate welding and painting activities in order to validate safety processes and improve future projects.

Chino Valley Solar, Chino Valley, Ariz.

Key Players

Contractor McCarthy Building Cos., Phoenix

Owner Arizona Public Service, Phoenix

Subcontractors American Fence Co., Phoenix; Blount Contracting, Mesa, Ariz.; HDR Engineering, Denver; Sun Edison, Denver; Wilson Electric, Tempe, Ariz.; Worley Parsons, Phoenix