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EHS, Facilities collaborate on campus construction safety

Along with its ambitious capital building program, MIT is managing an unprecedented volume of renovations. To oversee the safety aspects of these renovations, William McShea, an experienced safety expert, has been appointed to the new position of campus construction safety officer.

The position represents a new working relationship between the Department of Facilities ' Design and Construction office and the Environmental, Health and Safety Office .

"Our renovation projects are challenging from a safety perspective due to the fact that a majority of the work is carried out in occupied buildings. In addition to our efforts to minimize nuisances, such as noise and dust, we devote considerable energy to ensuring that work is carried out in a safe and responsible manner," said David Myers, director of Design and Construction in Facilities, who has responsibility for all the projects.

McShea will have responsibility for helping project managers anticipate safety issues and work effectively with contractors. He views his new role as an opportunity to develop a new safety program during one of the most challenging and dynamic growth periods in the Institute's history.

"At the moment, for every new construction project on campus, there are about four active renovation projects. We're really talking about the public safety interface: we want to prevent accidents and injuries while meeting the standards for the construction industry, fire and life safety codes, OSHA rules and the building codes at the state and city levels," said McShea. The special challenges of ensuring safety on campus include concerns about the impact on people working in or passing through renovation areas.

McShea has worked at MIT for five years and is currently part of the EHS safety program. He was co-chair of the Institute's Y2K Transition Team and coordinated emergency operations immediately following Sept. 11. He also prepares "simtests," disaster scenarios that test the preparedness of different MIT departments. Before coming to MIT, he was at Digital Equipment Corp. for 26 years.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 1, 2002.

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