As uncertainty keeps contractors relying on rental equipment, aerial-work platform use is growing, says a new study by the International Powered Access Federation. The 1.17 million platforms in the global rental fleet in 2015 is up 4% from 2014; the U.S. and Canada fleet grew 3%, to 530,000 units. IPAF predicts the oil-and-gas sector slowdown will drive more rentals. With customers pushing the machines’ limits, manufacturer JLG in April introduced a platform at the Bauma equipment show, Munich, that has a record 158-ft working height. The JLG 1500AJP is the largest articulated boom lift on the market, with Dutch rental giant Riwal the first buyer. —Jeff Rubenstone
Movers and Shakers
ROGERS GROUP INC., a Nashville aggregates producer and roadbuilder, elevated Darin Matson to president and CEO. He was executive vice president and chief operating officer. The firm has $750 million in revenue.
The U.S. Senate on April 20 confirmed Major General Todd T. Semonite as U.S. Army chief of engineers and Corps of Engineers commander, with elevation to lieutenant general. Strained pre-election relations between the White House and Congress caused many in the industry, including Semonite, to not expect confirmation before the May retirement of his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick.
Rosendin Electric, an electrical contractor in San Jose, Calif., has promoted Matthew Englert to senior vice president. The firm also named Angela Hart to the newly created position of director of operations.
Robert A. “Bob” Rubin has joined Bob Rubin: Construction Disputes Avoidance and Resolution as founder and CEO. The New York City firm specializes in project dispute resolution and risk management. He was special counsel at the law firm of McCarter and English. Susan Kurland, U.S. Transportation Dept. assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs, will join, as of May 16, the Chicago Dept. of Aviation as deputy commissioner for air services development. Charles D. Avolio has joined Suffolk Construction as president of its New York City operations. He was vice president and general manager at Turner Construction.
Silica-Dust Rule Is Ahead
EMPLOYERS WILL have to monitor and substantially reduce worker exposure to silica dust under a new U.S. rule for construction. Taking effect on June 23, it requires employers to use engineering controls, such as water or ventilation, to limit exposure and provide respirators when necessary. Contractors have until June 23, 2017, to comply. The rule includes alternatives for small employers and others. Labor unions sought to toughen the standard, not updated since the 1970s. But in a lawsuit, contractor groups say the new permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms per cu meter of air over an eight-hour period can’t be reached with existing technology.
Jury Awards in Death Suit
A TEXAS JURY on April 15 awarded $17.7 million in damages in the wrongful-death civil lawsuit filed by the family of ironworker Jose Dario Suarez, who drowned when the boom lift he was on fell into the Brazos River in 2014, during construction at Baylor University in Waco. A family attorney claims the jury considered the project prime contractor, Austin Bridge & Road, to be responsible. His claim could not be verified by court transcripts or news accounts. Austin’s attorney could not be reached on whether it will appeal. An owner-controlled insurance program could pay for much of the damage award, says the court record.
Iowa Expands Wind Power
MID-AMERICAN ENERGY CO. has proposed a $3.6-billion project to build up to 2,000 MW of wind generation in Iowa. It already has more installed wind capacity—6,200 MW supplying 31% of its electricity—than any other state, says the American Wind Energy Association.