PHOTOGRAPHER: Mike O’Dwyer SUBMITTER: Lisa Page, Bovis Lend Lease, London
A worker smooths a pile cap at London’s Pater Noster Square, part of the foundation of new buildings being constructed near St. Paul’s Cathedral. The buildings are part of the overall reconstruction of the square, damaged in World War II.

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The construction industry in 2002 entered what some have called an "Age of Anxiety" as key markets around the world began to slump significantly, terrorism became a household word in places totally unaccustomed to it and saber rattling by some of the biggest and most heavily armed nations set the entire world on

Yet in good times and in bad, the global construction industry produces a prodigious amount of work. ENR estimates this to be about $3.4 trillion annually—a serious component of national, regional and local economies. In any particular year, some markets go up, some go down, some companies end their existence and many others are born. This perpetual process of activity produces its own wonders and accomplishments. Some of those from 2002 are pictured on the following pages.

The industry's work performed across the globe is, at its roots, business enterprise—a dollar, yen or peso paid for a dollar, yen or peso's worth of work. But that performance also is the act of creation, projects being shaped and fashioned by millions of designers and craftsmen who, in turn, become part of their projects. From the seemingly most significant corporate decision-maker to the lowliest laborer, everyone has a role to play in creating bridges, roads, airports, railroads, ports, buildings, factories and industrial plants, homes, powerplants, water utilities and everything else needed for the world as we know it to survive and thrive. There is beauty and accomplishment in all of these projects, and the fruits of the effort often survive the people who created them.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Joseph A. Blum Photography SUBMITTER: Jennifer Fink, Enclos Corp., Bloomington, Minn. A union ironworker working at 560 Mission Street project in San Francisco in July 2002.
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Indexes that measure the selling price of construction show a different story. The Turner Corp.'s selling price index shows an annual increase of just 0.7% this quarter, down from a 1.8% rate of increase for the same period in 2001. The spread between the selling price and general purpose indexes is a good indicator of the degree of discounting going on in today's market.

This is not taken for granted. Men and women often tell their friends, children or even grandchildren: "I worked on that building." It becomes theirs even though they don't own it. The work and the result become part of the lives of everyone who uses the project for as long as it exists.

The construction industry is one of the few that can say that it offers excitement (sometimes more than anyone bargained for), danger (unfortunately), ease of entry into business (a pickup and handful of tools can still get you started), travel (often excessive), good pay (when there is work) and varied working conditions (hot, cold, dry, wet) and flexible hours (over-12-hour shifts or laid off). Those who can handle that variety think this industry is something special.


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Editorial: Going Home Alive Should be a Job Requirement

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When the day is done, all those in construction have the right to head home inthe same shape as they arrived at work—or better. But as everyone knows, reality is not so forgiving. Each year, the industry kills or injures its people in numbingly familiar ways and 2002 was no exception. Falls, electrocutions, falling objects, trench cave-ins, equipment mishaps and vehicular accidents combined to kill hundreds of people on the job.

In its reporting, ENR tries to call the industry’s attention to best practices as well as to the tragic results of even a moment’s inadvertence. Many industry organizations and companies make safety the highest priority because it is the right thing to do and, more secondarily, makes good business sense. As the year ends, we hope that the construction industry rededicates itself to making a bigger dent in accidents, injuries and fatalities. A good place to start is not letting the press of schedule push people into unsafe practices.


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