I am a long-time subscriber of ENR and have always admired the best construction magazine in the business. Having said that, I hope you will not take unkindly to my following comments.

I was appalled and amazed at the many safety and code violations shown in the picture on the cover of the issue, "Images of the Year in Construction" (ENR 12/27/ 04). I hope that you will contact any safety engineer of your choice and discuss this with him or her. I would also suggest this be done prior to publishing.

The ironworkers’ gear is the worst I’ve seen on any project. Only one man is wearing safety glasses, safety straps are frayed and are in sorry condition. I don’t believe tire chain parts, cold shut links and such are approved for safety use to connect safe hooks to D-rings and belts. The rebar column cage is the sorriest looking mess I’ve seen in a long time. I suppose these men are trying to realign the rebar and fit the splices so they can be completed, separated and not bunched. Good luck, fellows.

Leaving heavy pipe wrenches, (two) and other tools so they could be knocked off and hurt someone below or wind up in the job isn’t a good idea either. The wood walkway scaffolding behind the men also appears somewhat lacking for safety requirements.

I have taken many construction photos over my 65-plus years in construction and have always tried to show it in the best light.

I’d like to comment on your article, "When Work Turns Into Art" (ENR 12/27/04 p. 18). For the most part, the most prominent person in the cover photo is not compliant with OSHA regulations. He’s not wearing safety glasses.

We struggle continually with gaining compliance and commitment to safety, so it pains me to see examples of poor safety practices in the pages of our industry’s leading publication. Given your status in the industry, I’m afraid the message is, "If it’s in ENR, it must be OK." 

I realize your call for photography resulted in receiving photographs that were not staged, and therefore reflected what’s really happening on projects. My interest is not in manipulating what the reality is, it’s in not reinforcing unsafe conditions and behavior. If I could wave a wand over the whole issue, I would scrub all photos, both news and advertising, in ENR for safety compliance.

I’m sure that I won't be the only one to critique your recent cover photo, but I wanted to make sure that you were aware of just how blatantly insensitive to current safety standards this photo makes you and ENR look. I am not a safety professional, but have worked on construction projects for the last 30 years. Even my experience in Poland, where the scaffold still had bark on it, wasn’t as bad as your cover picture. I didn’t get far before I noticed the following:

  • The worker in the foreground is not wearing safety glasses. His hardhat appears to be out-dated. He is wearing loose hanging jewelry around his neck.
  • Neither worker has their fall protection lanyard connected to the structure as secondary protection to their working chain lanyards. Notice that the attachment that hooks on the working chains lacks the double release protection that their safety lanyard hooks have.
  • The worker in the background doesn't have his safety harness on properly. The tailing end of the straps around both thighs are not secured properly. His chest strap is not secured either.
  • The pipe wrench on the scaffold is not secured and could fall on someone below. It appears to have been modified without the manufacturer's recommendation as the handle has a home-made extension on it.
  • The worker in the background should be wearing gloves.
  • The scaffold in the background lacks toe-boards under the handrail.
  • None of the handrail looks strong enough. Some of the vertical rebar lacks safety caps.
  • There is another unsecured pipe wrench laid in the rebar just to the right of the foreground worker’s chain attachment point.
  • The scaffold planks do not appear to be of the OSHA dictated grade and are not marked as required.
  • I hope that we don’t even need to try to comment on the ironworker sitting on the column on p. 24.
  • Thank you for presenting the story of construction through photographs. It makes design and engineering come alive for readers.

    I have a request for the 4th annual ENR photo contest. Can we have a measure of safety for the submitted photographs that the photographers know in advance is a contest factor?

    In this year’s photos, there are many concerns for fall hazard consequences. Falls constitute 36% of construction deaths in the U.S. The number has climbed six points since 1990 while overall deaths decline, according to OSHA.

    It is important to know that effective fall protection methods are designed no differently than the structures that are being erected. Fall protection is an engineering science that incorporates practicality, mechanical and structural engineering, dynamic force considerations, equipment capacity, collision analysis, rescue methods, human factors engineering for anchorage points that are located appropriately, and where training is in accordance with the written erection fall protection work plan.

    Gorgeous composition! One of the most awesome I’ve seen in years. Photographer Hewitt definitely has an excellent eye for beauty (p. 23).

    Cuningham Group Architecture P.A.

    Editor's Note

    We received many letters about our annual photo contest “Images of the Year in Construction,” published Dec. 27, 2004. The contest has been popular with readers and with industry firms and photographers who send us hundreds of submissions each year. Winners are delighted to have their photos published, and ENR editors learn about projects worldwide.

    But this year’s letter writers were most concerned about the safety violations they spotted in the winning photos, particularly the cover photo. This issue has come up many times in the past about photos presented in ENR stories in general. Our policy as a newsmagazine is that we show the industry as it is—the good and the bad, the safe and the unsafe. In news and project stories, we don’t propose to be the industry’s safety monitor. But when we have a choice of photos being used for artistic purposes, we make an effort to make selections that show safe work practices.

    In the case of the photo contest, however, we have not conveyed that message on our contest entry forms. We ask for “dynamic, well-composed, dramatic and aesthetically pleasing pictures of people at work, projects and structures, equipment and materials.”

    Some readers have responded that they do not find photos that show unsafe work practices to be aesthetically pleasing. Still, photos can be misleading. The picture of the ironworker sitting on a column, for instance, did not show a deck that was less than 6 ft below. Next year, judges will be instructed to consider safety in choosing the winners.