LTU, industry partners launching Construction Safety Research Center

SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University and a group of industry partners are launching a Construction Safety Research Center to make construction workplaces safer across Michigan and the nation.

The need for the center is obvious, said center director Ahmed Al-Bayati: 1,061 construction workers were killed in 2019, the largest total since 2007, and more than 200,000 more workers suffered injuries.

Al-Bayati, assistant professor of civil and architectural engineering at LTU, is a nationally recognized expert in construction safety. He said the center will continue and strengthen national efforts to reduce fatal and non-fatal injuries through innovative research studies—and turn that research into industry best practices, and then turn those best practices into training materials that can be easily used by construction companies and workers.

“The center’s goal is to reduce work related facilities and injuries by providing construction firms with nationally recognized training, which will be derived from the cutting edge  research that will be conducted by the center, in collaboration with our industry partners,” Al-Bayati said.

The industry safety leaders who are joining the center as its first founding members are:

  • The Bouma Corporation, a Grand Rapids construction contractor;
  • Carhartt Inc., the Dearborn-based maker of work apparel;
  • DTE Energy, Michigan’s largest utility; and
  • RBV Contracting Inc., the Detroit construction firm.

In addition, the cities of Southfield and Kalamazoo have signed on to lead the way as founding municipal members.

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Memberships are aimed at leaders and safety influencers from the nation’s construction industry in including companies, municipalities, associations, and agencies in all areas of construction.

The benefits of membership are significant.  Members participate in deciding which research projects will be performed and gain access to the research results and any corresponding training materials.  They are also recognized for their leadership in safety in the center’s public outreach efforts. Some membership options also provide for onsite safety inspections, expert onsite safety presentations, and reviews of written safety programs.

Also contributing to the CSRC effort is Michael Darga, partner at Giffels Webster, the Detroit civil engineering firm, who graduated from LTU in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science in construction management. “I have spent most of my career working on improving the infrastructure and redevelopment of the city of Detroit and southeast Michigan communities,” Darga said. “Supporting the CRSC is one more logical step in training and protecting the workers that make those efforts a reality.”

Al-Bayati said of the contribution: “While we plan to sustain the Center by providing membership services, donations are also extremely beneficial, so we are grateful to Mr. Darga for his donation.”

These industry leaders will guide the center through their extensive field experience and commitment to overall construction site safety. Their leadership and guidance will help identify and validate the most needed interventions to reduce fatalities and injuries on construction workplaces.

“As Michigan’s largest utility, DTE Energy is actively involved in the construction industry, building and maintaining our electric and gas infrastructure as well as the renewable energy sources that are needed for Michigan’s clean energy future,” said Mark Johnson, director of Southeast Michigan gas operations for DTE. “We’re partnering with the CSRC because safety is our company’s first priority and we want to ensure that the people working in construction activities are as safe as possible.”

“One of the guiding principles of Bouma Corporation is that safety is never compromised,” said Andrew Rener, Bouma’s president. “Being a founding member of the Construction Safety Research Center is further evidence of that commitment.”

“Carhartt’s mission is to serve and protect hardworking people, whether it’s through our rugged gear or our efforts to build a better world across the communities we serve,” said Colleen Hau, director of global product innovation at Carhartt. “Our long-term commitment to safety—whether it’s for our associates or consumers—played an integral role in our decision to support the development of the Construction Safety Research Center.”

“At RBV, we say ‘We Dig Detroit,’” said Jim Foucher, P.E., RBV vice president. “Our record indicates that we do that safely, but we know we can never let our guard down and must always remain vigilant. We feel that the Construction Safety Research Center will help us become even stronger in terms of our safety culture.”

“The city of Southfield, the ‘center of it all,’ is proud to host Lawrence Technological University and its Construction Safety Research Center,” said Fred Zorn, Southfield city administrator. “And we’re interested in keeping our city workers as safe as possible in construction activities.”

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 100 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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