Monday, December 20, 2010

China'a Building Boom - too much to soon?

As U.S. Debates, China Acts With A Building Boom

by Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press

HANGZHOU, China (AP) — Gravel-laden barges glide past the willow-fringed banks of the Grand Canal, plying a trade route built 2,500 years ago to bring grain from China's fertile south to its rulers in the north.

Now the 1,800-kilometer (1,125-mile) passage is part of an even grander scheme: a $150 billion plan to bring water from the mighty Yangtze river to the parched north in what is the world's most expensive infrastructure project.

Increasingly, a group of rising economies — from Brazil to the United Arab Emirates — is building the showcase projects that once were mainly the pride of the U.S., Western Europe and Japan. America's Hoover Dam made headlines in the 1930s; today, it is China's $25 billion Three Gorges Dam.

Just as railways and highways transformed America into an industrial superpower, the 21st-century building boom is laying the foundations for these rapidly growing economies to join the top leagues.

"Projects are getting bigger and bigger in the developing economies, not only to cater for demand, but also in anticipation of future growth," says Wilfred Lau, director at the engineering and design consultancy Ove Arup & Partners in Hong Kong.

Half of the 30 most expensive projects globally are in China, Brazil, the Middle East and other parts of the developing world, according to a list compiled by The Associated Press. A dozen are in the rich countries, and three others are energy pipelines that will link Western Europe with Russia and Turkey. The data comes from governments and companies involved in the various projects, and from AP archives.

Not all these projects will necessarily be completed, but cancellations would seem at least as likely among the cash-strapped governments of the West and Japan as anywhere else.

Topping the list is China's South-North Water Diversion plan, which would use the Grand Canal and two other routes to channel water to Beijing and other fast-growing northern cities. Alone, its price tag dwarfs the $65 billion for all five U.S. projects in the top 30.

Poor countries have always needed better roads, more electricity and other improvements, but few could afford them and many, like Haiti, still can't. Still, much has changed dramatically in the past two decades as global growth has shifted to countries such as China and Brazil.

The money flowing into their government coffers has enabled them to launch the major infrastructure projects that bring prestige, improve living standards and set the stage for the next level of economic development.

But there are limits: Such huge flows of wealth can be squandered on corruption or showcase projects that turn into white elephants. Some cite the $450 million stadium built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a case in point.

In China, India and elsewhere, subway, bridge and building collapses indicate that not all the construction is as solid as it should be. Ultimately, such investments need to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable to pay off. And already some projects have been idled by the global financial crisis.

Big-ticket items aren't confined to the developing world. Britain's plan to spend 100 billion pounds ($132 billion) on offshore wind farms is the second priciest project on the list compiled by the AP, followed by Japan's 5 trillion yen ($62 billion) Daini Tomei Highway.

The $65 billion in U.S. projects includes a new $20 billion air traffic control system, which ranks 13th on the list, followed by separate $14 billion projects to upgrade flood barriers in New Orleans and build two nuclear power plants in the state of Georgia.

Overall, just 2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product goes to infrastructure construction. Europe spends 5 percent of its GDP, and China, 9 percent, according to a U.S. government report.

Developing countries, led by China, are devoting $384 billion to the biggest dams, highways, railways, bridges, canals and energy projects. Brazil is building a 518-kilometer (320-mile) $18.4 billion high-speed train link from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo and an $11.3 billion hydroelectric complex on the Madeira River, a major tributary of the Amazon.

One country where public works construction has lagged is India, which has only one project on the list, a $9.3 billion nuclear power plant deal it signed with France this month. Many economists see weak infrastructure has one of India's biggest handicaps — as well as a potential growth area for the world's construction industry.

Only one African project made the top 30, a 1,216-kilometer (750-mile), six-lane highway linking Algeria with Tunisia and Morocco and costing $11.2 billion. But even on the world's poorest continent, billions are going to new railways, roads, mines and public housing — often built with Chinese money as Beijing swaps financing and other aid for access to minerals, coal and oil.

The Boston Consulting Group says that more than half of the $40 trillion or so needed for infrastructure in the coming two decades is likely to be spent in the developing world.

In China, a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package launched when the global financial crisis slowed exports is already bearing fruit. The Communist Party's routine suppression of public dissent means projects tend to get done — and quickly.

While U.S. states are talking about high-speed rail, China is set to double its network — already the world's longest — to 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) by 2020.

Inevitably, some see big drawbacks to the building boom. They worry that too much construction is unwieldy, resulting in schools or clinics that collapse, and that services such as old-age homes and firefighting equipment can't keep up with rapid urbanization.

Continued spending at the current pace is unsustainable, said Nicholas Lardy, a China expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank.

"They're not building bridges to nowhere, but if they keep this up for a few more years they might be," he said.

Major projects also often extract an environmental toll.

The classic example is southern Egypt's Aswan Dam, completed in 1970, which generates much-needed electricity and controls flooding, but also prevents nutrient-rich sediment from replenishing the eroding Nile delta, the country's most productive farmland.

Some question whether China's water diversion project, due to be finished in 2050, is worth the risks.

The plans call for sending 45 trillion liters (12 trillion gallons) of water a year from the Yangtze to the north. Wang Weiluo, a Chinese hydrologist living in Germany, says cities such as Shanghai, which lies downstream from where the water will be diverted, will see their own water resources reduced.

It's not clear that southern China can spare that much water, especially with the glaciers that feed the Yangtze melting, said Kenneth Pomeranz, a China water expert at the University of California, Irvine.

But alternatives, such as hiking the price of water, are politically difficult, and much prestige is invested in seeing the project to completion, he said. "It may well be a bad idea whose time has come."

PS (Skip Gosnell) Booming economies have definitely shifted from US and Europe, growing at an incredible rate in the Far East among others, so often outgrowing safety precautions. Far to often this ends with huge financial loss and human life. This is why Europe, Australia and the US have so diligently created rules and regulations governing the safety of workers and equipment - like the industrial revolution of our own US history, progress in countries like China is happening at break neck speed - we can help our worldwide neighbors with education on safety so mistakes we've already learned can be prevented overseas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Digger Derrick Operator Training

Digger derrick operators need a wide range of skills and equipment knowledge to competently and safely dig holes, set poles and lift loads, especially around energized lines and equipment. “Basic Training for Digger and Truck Mounted Crane Operators” – a manual from the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction (ISPC) – is a newly developed, comprehensive tool that will become a reference guide for digger derrick operators throughout their careers. OSHA regulation snapshots reinforce industry best practices throughout the manual, which also includes an operator field performance requirements checklist.

For more information about the manual, contact ISPC at 866.880.1380 or visit www.ispconline.com and click on the Safety Products tab.

Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction www.ispconline.com

Thursday, August 12, 2010

OSHA Publishes Cranes and Derricks Final Rule

OSHA Publishes Cranes and Derricks Final Rule
By Ilya Leybovich, as published on ThomasNet.com, August 12, 2010

After eight years of deliberation, and two years after a series of mass-fatality crane collapses, OSHA recently released its finalized set of guidelines for crane and derrick operation. The new rules are likely to have an important impact on several industries, particularly construction.

Since 2002, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has worked through its Cranes and Derricks Advisory Committee to develop new rules for addressing key hazards in crane and derrick operation. Several tragic crane collapses in 2008, as well as hundreds of deaths and injuries caused by crane misuse each year, put added pressure on updating the safety standards. Earlier this month, OSHA published the much-anticipated set of rules.

The new guidelines, known as Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Final Rule, replace the previous safety rules, which date back to 1971. The updated standards will go into effect on November 8 and will affect hundreds of thousands of workers across the construction industry and related fields.

"The significant number of fatalities associated with the use of cranes in construction led the Labor Department to undertake this rulemaking," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in an announcement of the regulations. "After years of extensive research, consultation and negotiation with industry experts, this long overdue rule will address the leading causes of fatalities related to cranes and derricks, including electrocution, boom collapse and overturning."

One of the key provisions of the new measure is that all crane operators must be qualified and certified according to the standards outlined in section 1926.1427. In addition, any secondary staff working in the vicinity of a crane, such as riggers and signalers, must also be certified. After the rule goes into effect, employers will have up to four years to ensure that all crane workers have the proper credentials.

"The new rule is designed to prevent the leading causes of fatalities, including electrocution, crushed-by/struck-by hazards during assembly/disassembly, collapse and overturn. It also sets requirements for ground conditions and crane operator assessment," OSHA notes. "In addition, the rule addresses tower crane hazards, addresses the use of synthetic slings for assembly/disassembly work, and clarifies the scope of the regulation by providing both a functional description and a list of examples for the equipment that is covered."

The regulations also require employers to determine whether the ground on which a crane is positioned can support the anticipated weight of equipment or loads, and to assess potential hazards within the work zone, including power lines and objects or personnel within the radius of hoisting equipment. Employers are required to participate in regular inspections to ensure crane equipment is in safe operating conditions and that all workers are adequately trained.

"The new standards are designed to ensure that workers are properly trained and certified to operate equipment, and that employers make appropriate assessments and inspections on site before doing so," the White House explains. "These common sense updates will lead to better safety for approximately 4.8 million workers employed at 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments."

The new standards were developed by a committee of 23 experienced members of manufacturing and trade associations, which also relied on input from unions, academic experts and other stakeholders in the equipment field. The amount of time it took to establish the new guidelines, however, has created some local regulatory problems.

"During the long wait for a federal rule, some local legislatures have implemented their own rules," Cranes Today reports. "While some of these have met with industry approval, others have been accused of overstepping their authority. In Miami-Dade, a crane rule was struck down by a judge, on the basis that it 'superseded' OSHA. In New York City, a similar action is being taken by SINY, the Steel Institute of New York."

Resources

Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Final Rule
U.S. Department of Labor (Federal Register), Aug. 9, 2010

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Demolition Crane Smashes Into Sharpsburg House

Demolition Crane Smashes Into Sharpsburg House

Crane Was Demolishing Building Next Door

A 100-foot crane in Sharpsburg collapsed onto a house early Tuesday evening during a demolition.The accident happened shortly after 6 p.m. in the 200 block of North Main Street, authorities said.Crews of a sheet metal company were tearing down a building to make room for a new building and parking lot when a crane somehow tipped over, authorities said.The Winegarden family was inside the house as crews were demolishing the building next door.The crane tipped over and crashed into the second story of the family's home.

"At first, a couple of bricks came down and hit the house. I told my daughter we should leave the house just to be safe. We came outside and as soon as we came outside, that's when the crane came into the side of the house and smashed the side of the house," said James Winegarden."It was huge. It came crashing right on through. It was just very frightening," Liz Winegarden said.

No one was hurt.

The Red Cross is providing the family with a place to stay.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Precision Circular "Bulls-Eye" Bubble Levels


Rieker introduces Precision Circular "Bulls-Eye" Bubble Levels

Also referred to as a “bulls-eye” level, the C000X Series of Circular Bubble Levels provide accurate measurement of level in a rugged machined Aluminum housing (Anodized black). Several sizes available to fit any space requirement.

Manufactured to exacting specifications, the accuracy is guaranteed and maintained through the use of precision ground glass and machined Aluminum. Rigorous testing completed to assure high performance over long-term all weather conditions, including industry standard Salt Fog survivability per ASTM B117.

Each instrument is filled with a special damping fluid that controls the movement of the bubble, for smooth accurate readings. The fluid combined with large, clear markings make it easy to get quick, accurate readings under a wide variety of severe environmental conditions.

These precision circular vials have three mounting holes for installation convenience and calibration. Since most mounting surfaces may vary, for exact zero calibration the C000X-A models all come with Polyurethane bumpers and mounting hardware.