Columbia’s Manhattanville Construction Workers Celebrate Holiday Season While Reiterating Number One Goal: Safety

Friday, December 19, 2014

As the holiday season approached, more than 650  union construction workers paused from their daily duties to join Columbia University and Lend Lease executives in celebrating the holidays and reaffirming the project’s longstanding commitment to safety.

Holiday displays created by the various union trades working at Columbia

Holiday displays created by the various union trades working at Columbia University’s Manhattanville development as part of the safety stand down event held in December.

The “Safety Stand Down,” as the event is known, kicked off with an emergency evacuation drill, where the 650-plus construction workers stop their activities and exit the buildings on site via the stairs.

The team reconvened on the eighth floor of the Jerome L. Greene Science Center for messages of safety from Patsy Lemole, general superintendent , and Steve Sommer, principal-in-charge, both of Lend Lease.

Union Workers on a Fire Drill

Hundreds of union workers took part in an emergency evacuation drill and safety event.

Lemole credited the unions and union leadership for the high level of safety at the site, recognizing the safety culture that persists through each trade and the pride between fellow workers in valuing an incident and injury free job site.  With people focused on time away for the holiday, Sommer emphasized safety vigilance by reminding the group that “injury, getting hurt – even death – never takes a holiday.”

Manhattanville Construction Workers Put on a Skit

A light-hearted skit performed by project superintendents emphasized the safety message prevalent in the event.

Following a reorientation of safety topics from Joel Pickering, director of fire prevention/environment health and safety manager  for Lend Lease, Lend Lease superintendents performed a light-hearted skit on safety to further underscore the day’s message.   Forty construction workers were honored with safety recognition at the event, awarded by companies who felt the individuals were worthy of the recognition.

The day also featured an ornament contest, with each construction trade designing a full-size holiday ornament.  Ornaments recognizing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and even the Seinfeld-inspired Festivus were on display as part of the contest.  The team holds emergency evacuation drills every quarter.

A holiday ornament created by the Local 79 union

A holiday ornament created by the Local 79 on display at the event.