Rescues and Safety

As a lifelong safety professional who has witnessed the aftermath of too many avoidable jobsite tragedies, I was one of those who initially said, "I’d rather talk about prevention," when I heard ENR was doing a special report, "Minutes to Live," on accident rescues (ENR 11/22 p. 23).

Now that I have read the issue, I must commend ENR’s efforts. You have done the industry a great service, even if you only persuade one owner, one construction manager, or one foreman to think more deeply about ensuring the safety of his or her work force, every day and on every job. Training and preparedness are always the best route.

We at the Construction Safety Council know all too well that improving jobsite safety is a year-round, 24/7 commitment that requires constant vigilance. The persistent prevalence of construction-related deaths and injuries is still the shame of our great industry. Surely, ENR could devote some editorial space each week to this vital subject. From 15 years on the front lines, we have learned that the more you think about safety, the harder it is not to be safe. And the more you think about safety for yourself, the harder it is not to think about the safety of co-workers and passersby.

As chair of the Readiness and Homeland Security Committee of the Society of American Military Engineers’ New York City Post, I found the Nov. 22 issue great reading. With so much attention focused on readiness and prevention, the thought of rescue and recovery gets forgotten. "It can’t happen to me" leads to a lack of participation in planning and practicing. The real life examples that you presented should give everyone reason to pause and participate.

On-the-Job-Learning

I read with great interest your article on the plight of our young engineering graduates (ENR 12/6 p. 26). It appears from your articles and from our professional experience that colleges are not only missing the boat in preparing students for the business world, but they are also not fulfilling their obligation to teach students about how to apply their knowledge.

We have been in private practice for more than 30 years, and during that time, we have found that it takes up to three years to make an engineering graduate a productive member of the firm. Then they leave for a better position.

While architects have had to complete a five-year curriculum in order to obtain a degree in architecture, my suggestion is not to extend the engineering degree to five years as has been suggested. I suggest having students work in the field during their summer vacation time. If you were to attach a credit value to each semester that the student works in an engineer’s office, the college could then monitor the student’s progress. Students would discover that engineering is not a boring and unchallenging profession.

A second suggestion is the use of adjunct professors, those that work in their selected field of engineering. Generally, full-time professors do not have the knowledge of what we require in the field. They are consumed with teaching academics of the profession and do not have the practical knowledge required to be successful in the management or business portion.