Creativity in Waste Management: Companies Improving Landfills for Neighbors

Landfill management is a tough job that often requires creative thinking.

To the average person, this isn’t so obvious. After all, how fussy can solid waste be?

The industry professional, however, understands that solid waste can in fact be a fussy thing, especially at scale, especially over the lifetime of a landfill.

Previously, we took a look at the technology revolutionizing landfill management. Now, let’s take a look at some of the companies pushing those frontiers.

Here are 10 that deserve special recognition.

 

BiOWiSH and Gulf Scientific Gateway Help Control Waste Odors for Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia

If you’ve even been to a music festival, a state fair or even an RV park, you know how much trash mobile groups of people can create.

That’s long been a problem in Saudi Arabia, which sees some 2 million pilgrims every year during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. With crowds of that size, it’s not enough to simply have ample garbage trucks and waste sites — the Saudis do. At that size, even getting to all of the trash receptacles in anything close to a timely manner is impossible.

The team at BiOWiSH Technologies in Cincinnati explains:

“Large garbage trucks are available and waiting to remove the garbage from the bins, but they cannot get into these spaces that are congested with pilgrims. The religious travelers throw trash into big bins and since it cannot be removed promptly, it causes odors. The trash attracts flies.

“To elaborate, large garbage trucks are used at the end of the five days. The infrastructure has 1400 small compactor units distributed throughout the area of Mina. Garbage bags are dumped into these and the compactors crush them. At the bottom of these, liquid leaches out and generates gases such as hydrogen sulphide and ammonia. These have noxious odours.”

So, in 2014 one of BiOWiSH’s distributors, Gulf Scientific Gateway in Qatar, began to spray the trash compactors with BiOWiSH’s 100-percent natural products to control those odors. That way, the problem of odors and flies could be tackled at specific hot spots. The theory was this would reduce the flies the trash would attract, and thus the pesticides Hajj organizers used in the past to control the flies.

Saudi authorities reported the pilot program was a success. “The use of pesticides was reduced considerably according to the Hajj operations management team,” said Gulf Scientific Gateway’s Dr. Azahar Iqbal. “They also noticed a significant reduction in medicines given out by the Kingdom for coughs and infections.”

 

Waste Management Turns Methane Into Fuel in Kentucky

Numerous companies around the world have understood the potential for waste as a fuel, but few companies have the resources of an organization like Waste Management, which in February announced it would begin to harness methane emissions at a Louisville area landfill site and turn it into fuel.

WM public sector manager Andy Reynolds tells local news station WDRB that the company actually burns off the methane gas emission in a flare, and that WM is investing $30 million in technology that would put that energy right back into natural gas pipelines.

He estimates that the natural gas that could be harvested from a single landfill every day would be enough to power 12,000 homes.

covered-landfill

TriAD Does the Necessary Legwork to Get Commercial Landfill Client Compliant

Sometimes, however, big wins in the waste management world don’t come via technological breakthroughs or innovative thinking. Sometimes, progress is the result of having smart people working diligently to understand and comply with regulations.

Take TriAD Environmental Consultants in Nashville. The team there works with landfill developers every day to conduct subsurface investigations, prepare all of the plans and estimates necessary to secure permits, and pull together specs and construction plans to ensure their clients’ bids are successful.

That’s a lot of hard work that often goes unrecognized. But as a result, the developers TriAD works with can bring ignored or forgotten landfill sites into the fold and apply industry best practices to ensure those sites remain safe for their communities.

 

Wasteserv in Malta Spearheading European Campaign to Improve Landfill Regulations

In a similar vein, Maltese waste management operator Wasteserv announced in January it would be working with other waste management companies and regulatory agencies in the European Union to share local landfill management best practices and to create new economic opportunities.

Wasteserv naturally has its work cut out for it — the company operates on a small Mediterranean island nation that simply doesn’t have the space for large landfill sites. Creativity must be baked into any waste management approach there, and Wasteserv hopes to share those ideas with partners from Cyprus, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.

“As a result of landfill management projects, the recovery of resources as well as land recovery is increased while future environmental hazards can be avoided,” the company tells local news outlet Malta Today. “Moreover, landfill management projects generate economic development opportunities and create new green jobs, all within the context of an EU-wide transition to a resilient, low-carbon, circular economy.”

 

Croxley Recycling Helps Remove Hazardous Material from Landfills in South Pacific

In the same way as Malta, the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has to be creative with its waste management practices. But because of local habits, some 80 percent of what ends up in local landfills is actually recyclable, says the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

So, in 2013 the municipality of Luganville (the country’s second largest city) partnered with New Zealand recycling company Croxley to help create a new local habit: Recycling printer cartridges. The municipal government began to place cartridge drop bins all around the city and actively encouraged residents to get in the habit of using them.

It’s a small step, but a necessary one to initiate bigger conversations around recycling and waste management. “The goal of this new initiative is to raise awareness and understanding of hazardous waste among the population and to foster environmentally-responsible behaviour in customers whereby they return empty cartridges when purchasing new ones,” SPREP writes.

“The programme encourages separation of waste at source and demonstrates to residents and businesses that the Municipality is ‘walking the talk’ by taking the initiative to manage hazardous waste streams.”

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Republic Services Contributes to Georgia Power Grid With Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project

Republic Services is another company that recognizes the gas-to-energy potential of landfills, and in 2016 the company announced a project that would tap into the emissions at three Georgia landfills to generate 24.1 megawatts of electricity, which would otherwise have been generated by dirtier fuels.

“According to the EPA, 3 MW of renewable energy generated by landfill gas-to-energy projects is equal to preventing the carbon emissions emitted by the use 16.6 million gallons of gasoline,” Jessica Lyons Hardcastle at Environmental Leader writes. “Based upon EPA calculations, this project prevents carbon emissions that would otherwise be emitted by the use of more than 132 million gallons of gasoline.”

 

Enviro Cover Helps a Canyon Fill Site in Los Angeles Design a System for Daily Coverage

Sometimes, something as ostensibly simple as covering a landfill requires creative solutions because of topography of the site. Take the Puente Hills Landfill in Los Angeles, the country’s largest, where the daily cover might need to be strong enough to hold up for days or weeks at a time — but still made of materials that keep the cover within budget.

After a few other companies took their best shots, the team at Enviro Cover System came up with a workable solution: A polyethylene film designed to last for four weeks, and unfurled with a deployer that unrolls and secures the film in place. Afterward, the film is covered with mounds of soil that serve as ballast.

With this system, the site managers at Puente Hills can manage odors, scavengers and disease vectors for weeks at a time, even in wet conditions.

 

Denmark’s Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Helps Build Largest Waste-to-Energy Plant in the World in Shenzhen

Now, let’s scale the waste management challenge up by a factor of 50.

That’s roughly how much bigger China’s Shenzhen East Waste-to-Energy Plant is than the Puente Hills Landfill. At such a scale, site managers need more than durable covers; they needed a team of architects to devise a way to contain the waste in a single place, where it could be turned to energy.

Enter Schmidt Hammer Lassen, a Danish architecture firm. The SHL team partnered with Gottlieb Paludan Architects to create this award-winning design:

Shenzhen East Waste-to-Energy Plant_SHL_GPA from SHL Architects on Vimeo.

 

Geosyntec Helps Stabilize SoCal Airport Built On Top Of Former Landfill

Here is a good example of where the lifecycle management of landfills comes into play. At some point, many landfills are covered and begin new lives as parks or nature preserves.

Or in some cases, they become the sites where airports are built, as is the case with McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, California. Because that ground is now supporting such critical (and heavy) infrastructure, the ground needs to be monitored frequently to check for any problems or changes.

Recently, the County of San Diego Department of Public Works sought to upgrade the airport with a new terminal, a pedestrian bridge, additional parking and other necessary improvements.

That’s where Geosyntec Consultants came in. They helped airport management with subsurface, geotechnical investigations to evaluate everything from thermal output to the site’s resilience during an earthquake.

You might not normally connect landfills with the safety of air travelers, but in this case that was precisely what was on the line.

 

Agru America Turns Connecticut Landfill Into Solar Power Plant

Methane-to-gas conversion isn’t the only way to harvest the energy-generation potential of a landfill. In 2011, the managers at the Hartford Connecticut Landfill sought to devote some of the site’s 35 acres to generating solar energy.

For that project, they tapped Agru America, whose ClosureTurf product appeared a viable option as something that could cap the landfill and support solar arrays — but the company had never tried this before.

It proved to be a better alternative than vegetation cover, however, because it wasn’t susceptible to erosion, and it also left room for drainage layers so water could run down the site without disrupting the foundations that support the solar panels.

Today, a five-acre solar array sits at the pinnacle of the old landfill, and at capacity it produces enough energy to power 1,000 homes.

images by: 1103489, tpsdave, Dimitris Vetsikas

5 Creative Ways Developers Have Given New Lives to Old Landfills

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trees

Landfill development projects can be excellent ways to turn solid waste disposal sites into spaces that serve a whole new purpose — the site of a new building or green space, for example.

But landfill development is a much trickier process than it might seem, and many of the challenges inherent in these projects stem from the waste itself. As Green Building Advisor points out:

  • solid waste creates unstable foundations for larger developments,
  • and leachate can ruin the soil or groundwater around a site if it isn’t properly contained.

Still, these are engineering problems, not deal-breakers. More than anything, landfill developers and community stakeholders simply need patience with these projects. “I always tell my clients they need to anticipate a very lengthy timeframe for getting the approvals needed,” Anna Amarandos, an attorney at Rutan & Tucker in California who specializes in environmental law, tells ConstructionDIVE.

There are scores of examples all around the United States of landfills that have been recycled and given new life. Here are five examples of what repurposed landfills have become in their new lives.

 

Solar Parks

What better way to repurpose an old waste site than to turn it into a renewable energy power station by covering it in solar arrays? Several cities in the United States are exploring this option right now.

In Portland, Maine, the city council passed a unanimous resolution in September to build one of the larger municipal solar arrays in the state on top of its old Ocean Avenue landfill, Dennis Hoey at the Portland Press Herald reports.

According to Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, the project would reduce the city’s electricity dependence on fossil fuel by 25 percent over the next decade, and it wouldn’t cost the city much money at all, only about $150,000 over the project’s first six years.

Bangor City Council Member Sean Faircloth says the 660 kilowatt array will generate enough electricity to power Portland’s city hall.

Down in Charlotte, North Carolina, the city council approved a lease in November that would rent 22 acres of long-unused landfill space to a solar company, Bruce Henderson at The Charlotte Observer reports.

“The company that leased part of the Statesville Road landfill, Momentum Solar LLC, will spend a year on further study of the site’s suitability for solar energy,” Henderson writes. “Permitting and other details could add years more to it development, but Momentum believes the site could support a 2- or 3- megawatt system. That output would be enough to supply 360 to 540 homes for a year.”

golf

Golf Courses

Developers have long recognized that the vast, rolling landscapes they can build on top of old landfill sites are perfect for golf courses. Golf Vacation Insider has a piece on various sites that were reclaimed and repurposed as golf courses, including the Park Ridge golf course in Lake Worth, Florida.

“Thinking about the Palm Beach area conjures visions of blue ocean water, palm trees and amazing wealth,” the piece reads. “So it’s strange that one of the area’s best public golf courses is a ‘brownfields’ (former landfill) course.”

A few other such brownfields courses include

 

Park Spaces

Green spaces don’t need to be groomed for golfers, exclusively. Many excellent parks have been built on top of old landfills, too, providing recreational options to city residents all around the country.

Steve Scauzillo at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted in October to accept a report that included a plan to build a park on top of the Puente Hills Landfill in East LA. That plan calls for the construction of “trails and other amenities such as a giant slide, a gondola ride taking visitors to the top and back, an amphitheater, a zip line, stair climbs and a bicycle skills course,” Scauzillo writes.

And up in the Bay Area, the city of Berkeley has long enjoyed its Cesar Chavez waterfront park, built in 1991 on top of a peninsular landfill that jutted out into the bay. Now, it’s a place where residents can take in some pretty breathtaking views, and it’s also the site of an annual kite festival, as featured in Atlas Obscura.

mall

Retail Centers

At sites where the ground can be stabilized sufficiently to support large construction works, some developers have found old landfills can become excellent commercial areas.

In Carson, California, for example, city authorities had marked a former landfill site as a place that could support an NFL-sized football stadium, if the Raiders or Chargers were to relocate to the LA area.

When the NFL passed, Sandy Mazza at the Daily Breeze reports, the city council voted to begin negotiations for turning part of the 157-acre site into an upscale outlet mall.

“[Macerich Real Estate Co., the developer] wants to erect a 500,000-square-foot outlet center with 150 high-end stores that would take up a fourth of the site,” Mazza says. “Macerich promised to front the city $1 million to cover fees for preparing the documents to pass over control of the land, and $250,000 of that is slated to go into the city’s community nonprofit fund.”

She also reports that the city estimates the site would generate $4 million annually from sales taxes.

 

Wildlife Conservation Sites

Dora Chi, writing for the National Audubon Society, has an excellent piece on the Rio Salado Restoration Habitat in Phoenix, a 600-acre former landfill, now protected land, that is once again providing a home to native burrowing owls, whose communities were uprooted as Phoenix grew rapidly in the 20th Century.

Today, the city is encouraging all citizens to build makeshift burrows for these owls, and to note any sightings on a specially designed smartphone app so local scientists can track the species’ repopulation.

These owls aren’t the only species returning to their native habitats thanks to the restoration project. Officials also report that monarch butterfly populations have been growing year-after-year since 2011, taking refuge in the cottonwood and willow trees when Phoenix’s summer heat reaches triple digits.
images by: David Ragusa, Viktor Kiryanov, Gerry Roarty

8 Ways New Technology is Revolutionizing Landfill Maintenance

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drone

For waste engineers, landfills are an ongoing challenge that require frequent measurement and the application of constantly evolving maintenance techniques.

After all, once tons upon tons of waste accumulate the maintenance challenges take on a life of their own. Liquid runoff must be managed, gasses must be contained, and the landfill’s own capacity must be monitored on behalf of the companies and municipalities using the site.

Here are eight ways technology is helping the engineers in charge of waste sites work more effectively.

 

Putting a Lid on Gas Emissions

Landfills give off lots of gas — and accompanying smells. Waste engineers spend incredible amounts of time finding ways to convert those emissions into something useful while mitigating any downwind fumes that a site’s neighbors could find nauseating.

Fortunately, some of those emissions can be turned into fuel, which is what French company Air Liquide is doing at a site in Mississippi. As Cole Rosengren at WasteDIVE reports, Air Liquide — which is just putting the final touches on its purification plant — expects to begin purifying the methane from that site, via a polymeric membrane, into around 1,300 mmBTU per day.

The company says its membrane technology can create biomethane with up to 99 percent purity.

 

Measuring Emissions with Drones

Drones have been a huge boon to heavy industry because they offer so many versatile ways to collect data. The same is true in the solid waste industry.

For sites that emit gases, “drones offer a sampling platform from which to traverse the atmosphere in three-dimensions relatively rapidly (at the spatial scale of landfill sites, anyway),” AWE International writes.

What’s more, with a single drone or a fleet of drones getting real-time samples in the air, you can control for variables such as wind speed and get a much more accurate estimate of exactly how much greenhouse gas emissions a specific site is responsible for, the authors write.

Therefore, drone data collection is poised to deliver some big ecological wins in this industry.

 

Bio-Covers to Reduce Methane Emissions

Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark are experimenting with materials they call Bio-Covers to reduce the amount of methane landfills emit into the air. The idea is simple: Cover a site with compost containing the right microorganisms, which can convert the rising methane into CO2, a gas that contributes exponentially less to any greenhouse effects in the atmosphere.

“The Danish Bio-Cover scheme for the control of methane emissions is unique worldwide in providing funding for this,” writes the consultancy NIRAS, which is cooperating with the university on this project and using drones — exactly as noted above — to help measure methane outputs.

“The scheme is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the funding is estimated to be sufficient for controlling and mitigating methane emissions from approximately 100 waste disposal sites and landfills in Denmark. Currently, there are a total of seven pilot projects underway in Denmark.”

 

Using Materials to Control Odors, Too

More tangibly than greenhouse emissions, at least for nearby residents, landfills can give off some foul smells. Dr. Laura Haupert, Director of Research and Development at OMI Industries, recently wrote about how that company is implementing a solution for landfill odor it calls Ecosorb.

Ecosorb technology combines plant extracts, water and surfactants to lower liquid surface tension to eliminate odors at the molecular level — “without the use of harsh or hazardous chemicals, emission control systems, or masking fragrances,” the blog post points out.

Slippery Slopes: Managing the Liquids in Landfills

Leachate management is an ongoing challenge for solid waste engineers. When water percolates through the contents of a landfill, it becomes a pretty effective vector for introducing pollution into the surrounding earth.

That’s why the liners at the bottom of landfills have become such a serious focus of innovation. Materials engineers are constantly looking for ways to create better liners to contain that leachate.

One of the most promising such liners are made from geosynthetic clay, the team at AGRU writes, because that material is both durable and hydrophobic. Engineers today are using geosynthetic clay (GCL) to create composite liners with geomembranes (GM) that create two layers of leachate protection.

“When using GM alone, even the smallest hole brings leachate directly into the leak detection system with sufficient driving hydraulic head,” the AGRU team says. “The high swelling characteristics of the bentonite clay component in the GCL will work to seal the leak in the GM.”

 

Applying Geosynthetic Liners to Other Industries

Landfill managers aren’t the only ones who recognize these benefits. Mining engineers at coal mines have begun to use GCLs to help contain wet coal ash, Chris Kelsey writes at Geosynthetica.net.

“The coal ash resistant GCL is a specifically formulated, polymer-enhanced geosynthetic clay liner with granular sodium bentonite encapsulated between two geotextiles,” Kelsey says. “It is intended for containment of the potentially high ionic strength leachates in coal combustion waste applications.

“The polymer enhancement of the bentonite delivers outstanding performance under extreme conditions and chemical attack, making it ideal for lining systems with wet process ash or dry ash storage. This geosynthetic is unique in that high ionic solutions with elevated levels of calcium and sodium have historically been a ‘no-man’s land’ for bentonite-based products.”

 

Why Some Landfills Intentionally Add Water

One municipality in North Texas, however, is upping the water levels in its landfill. Arlene Karidis at Waste360 has the story:

The city of Denton, Texas, is working with researchers at the University of Texas, Arlington to increase and monitor liquid levels in its landfill. This has two benefits. First, it accelerates decomposition, thereby extending the life of the landfill. Second, that decomposition should triple the amount of useful methane gas released from the site.

The project relies on a novel method of monitoring liquids called electrical resistivity imaging, which lets researchers track the content and movement of moisture in the landfill, giving them precise data that will tell them when to add water and when to hold off.

truck

The Internet of Things Brings a New Level of Intelligence to Sites

The universe of connected devices that comprise the Internet of Things has begun to transform several industries, including manufacturing and home energy management. This same technology, when applied to the solid waste industry, offers whole new ways for managers to gain insights on their worksites.

For example, the city of Atlanta recently hired cloud-based waste management company Rubicon Global to equip its fleet of hauling trucks with the company’s app, which makes it possible for fleet managers to track each truck’s routes and pickups in real-time.

“This cutting-edge suite of new services will enhance operational efficiency, improve customer service, and ensure a consistent level of service citywide,” Rubicon Global writes at Forrester Daily News.

“The insights gathered by Rubicon go beyond route analytics and pickup rates. Our partnership with the City of Atlanta will also provide valuable planning data for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, most notably by enabling real-time information on current landfill diversion and recycling rates in support of the city’s zero-waste efforts.”

That kind of intel has benefits beyond the day-to-day operations of a site. For customers — i.e. local taxpayers — this can mean more precise, individualized billing for garbage collection services, the Fluid Gas Handling team at Parker writes, rather than simply charging all taxpayers an average price for collection.

“The system would reward you for reducing waste and increasing recycling and reuse. It is not a unique idea — simple measurements on garbage trucks and smart identification of garbage cans is already being piloted and underway. The ubiquitous presence of connectivity and reduced cost of sensing and cloud storage are enabling and accelerating it.”

Finally — and this speaks directly to the work we do at Firmatek — a distributed network of sensors means the materials, construction and solid waste industries can start analyzing their sites in more than three dimensions.

“By combining multiple datasets, it’s possible to develop 4D models that enable users to view conditions over time,” TechTarget’s IoT Agenda notes. “This approach provides the ability to detect and measure changes and provides important benefits to applications such as construction, earthworks, agriculture and land administration.”

The TechTarget piece even suggests a fifth dimension, cost, that can be layered over those analyses so that a site manager could easily visualize the resources, time and money needed to move solid materials.

Considered all together, the evolution of technologies that manage emissions, control leachate and monitor landfill sites will make the solid waste industry a very interesting space to watch in the next few years.
images by: ©conceptw/123RF Stock Photo, ©siur/123RF Stock Photo, Hans

Safe Sites: New Site Regulations Area Managers Should Be Aware of in 2017

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female hand signing contract.

Due to shifting regulations, 2017 is shaping up to be a year of real uncertainty in the mining and construction industries. For executives and area managers who are simply trying to do their jobs, this uncertainty can be concerning.

We’re going to take a look at four regulations to keep your eyes on so you can stay on the right side of the law in 2017.

 

How to Navigate the MSHA’s Examination of Working Places Rule

On May 23, the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s new rule on examining workplaces will take effect. This will allow the MHSA to

  • conduct workplace examinations before work begins,
  • give notification to miners who are affected by hazardous conditions, and
  • have access to records of when and where examinations were carried out, as well as what conditions were found.

That all sounds fairly straightforward, but a couple of issues remain. First of all, will examinations conducted before someone’s work begins create new challenges?

“Currently, safety examinations must occur sometime during a shift, which could mean at the end of a shift when workers have already spent hours exposed to an undetected hazard,” Kristen Beckman writes at BusinessInsurance.com.

“The new rule specifies that examinations must occur before work begins in an area, but that requirement prompts questions such as how mines that operate multiple or overlapping shifts will schedule examinations.”

The bigger issue, however, is one that will come up a few more times below — will the Trump administration change all of these policies drastically?

“The industry now, with the change in administration, will be in a wait-and-see approach to see what happens,” Jason Nutzman, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl L.L.P., tells Beckman. “There is plenty of time for the Trump administration to pull it back, but it may not be high on their radar, so it may slip through the cracks.”

construction site at sunset

OSHA Enforcement Will Likely Change Under Trump

One organization that probably will not slip through the cracks is OSHA, which in October proposed 18 changes to its construction, recordkeeping, maritime and general industry standards.

The team at ConstructConnect has an excellent overview of what these changes would entail. Among 15 other changes, these would:

  • update the Mine Safety Health Administration’s standards on using diesel-powered equipment used underground,
  • require managers to ensure that cell phones can contact 911 effectively on the worksite,
  • and revise criteria for ascertaining whether a person’s hearing loss was work-related.

Legal experts, however, believe Trump administration plans for OSHA (which could include funding cuts) will reposition it as an organization that focuses more on compliance assistance and cooperation, not enforcement, Safety+Health’s Tom Musick writes.

Further, Justin M. Reese, assistant VP and senior risk consultant at HUB International, predicts that a 2015 rule allowing OSHA penalties to increase annually to essentially keep pace with inflation might get overturned, or at least undercut in power.

At state and city levels of government, regulatory measures continue to move forward. As Sally Goldenberg and Gloria Pazmino report at Politico, New York’s city council is in the process of introducing several bills that “would require additional safety training, mandate an apprenticeship program, address how fatalities are reported by the Department of Buildings and create a minority workforce task force.”

 

Where the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Directive Stands

An executive order from President Obama signed in 2014, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule was slated for repeal under President Trump.

That rule would have required contractors bidding on federal projects “to attest to whether they have had violations of the covered labor laws resulting in any ‘administrative merits determinations, civil judgments, or arbitral awards or decisions’ issued within the preceding three years,” the legal team at Littler Mendelson wrote in August. “It has been left to the [Department of Labor] to define the scope of such reportable violations or ‘labor law decisions.’”

Beginning this year, that EO would have required federal contractors and subcontractors to provide wage statements to employees and disclose any violations of 14 specific federal laws from the previous year, attorney Erik Dullea writes at The Contractor’s Perspective. In 2016, a federal district court in Texas hampered the order’s implementation, but now Congress is in a position to do away with it outright.

At the end of January, however, House Republicans introduced a resolution to overturn that EO, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America reports, and on February 2 the House voted 236-187 to overturn the resolution, which means it only now awaits President Trump’s signature for the congressional veto to become enacted.

two workers and quarry in background

Where the Directive Requiring Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors Stands

Another EO from the Obama Administration that Republicans are targeting is the Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors order, which would have granted some 1.2 million people access to paid sick leave, AFCEA International says.

“The action arguably will improve the overall health and performance of the work force,” the organization writes. “Those who drag themselves to work coughing and sneezing — and infecting others — now can recuperate at home. The rule also brings the benefits packages of these workers in line with other companies, ensuring that federal contractors remain competitive employers.”

But Joe Davidson at The Washington Post reports President Trump intends to roll back that order, among several others. Those others, Davidson reports, include:

  • establishment of a $10.10 hourly minimum wage,
  • prohibitions against discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity,
  • and a directive “to maintain Federal leadership in sustainability and greenhouse gas emission reductions.”

During any administrative turnovers in the White House, there is always some uncertainty in what laws apply and how they will be enforced. During the year, the dust will begin to settle, and some clarity will emerge.

In the meantime, decision-makers in our industry will have their hands full keeping up to date with what rules apply to them.

images by: ©nonwarit/123RF Stock Photo, ©sondem/123RF Stock Photo, ©wawritto/123RF Stock Photo

What We’re Looking Forward to at the 2017 CONEXPO-CON/AGG Convention

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Because it only takes place once every three years, the CONEXPO-CON/AGG expo is a huge event for the construction, aggregates and ready-mixed concrete industries.

The 2017 expo will take place in March 7–11 in Las Vegas, at the convention center. The numbers for this year are pretty staggering: 2,500-plus exhibitions, 150 education sessions, and 2.5 million sq. ft. of space needed to host everyone.

We’re going to be at Booth B91804 in the Bronze Hall; stop in and say hello! And here are 14 of the other companies, speakers and events we’re especially excited about.

 

GeoSonics/Vibra-Tech (Booth C30973)

GeoSonics/Vibra-Tech has offered blasting and vibration consulting services to mine operators for years. At the expo, the company will be showing off its new Re:mote Monitoring Technology, which automatically collects continuous data on vibration, noise levels, dust and other environmental concerns, then delivers that data to either a web browser or the smartphone app.

 

Zeecrane (Booth G1412)

Zeecrane tends to turn heads on the exhibition floor with its zero-emissions cranes, one with a 9,000-pound lifting capacity and a second with an 18,000-pound capacity. Most importantly, these cranes produce zero operational waste (and make very little noise) because they have all-electric operating systems powered by a maintenance-free battery.

 

Metso (Booth C31061)

Finland’s Metso has promised to unveil some truly revolutionary crushing technology at the expo, though the company has kept a tight lid on details. What we do know is this new technology is said to increase uptime and reduce operational costs.

 

Liebherr (Outdoor Booth G4637)

Liebherr’s outdoor booth is going to be huge: The surface area will cover 50,000 sq. ft. and feature 25 different hydraulic excavators, tower cranes, wheel loaders and other heavy equipment the company manufactures. Additionally, its tower cranes team will have a virtual reality app that will let users get a feel for what it’s like to operate one of those giant cranes in real time.

TII Group (Booth G1723)

The TII Group will have several models from its Highway line of transport vehicles (pictured above), including some self-propelled models. One model the company is excited about is the SCHEUERLE SPMT Light, which it says is perfect for moving up to 220 tons in enclosed facilities such as plants.

 

McCloskey International (Booth S5115)

McCloskey International has a new wash plant called the Sandstorm that it will be launching at CONEXPO-CON/AGG. That first product will also signal the launch of a new division within the company, McCloskey Washing Systems. Other new products on display will include a lineup of screening equipment and a 100-foot telescoping stacker.

 

Raimondi Cranes (Booth S5035)

Italian crane-maker Raimondi is making its first-ever appearance at the expo in a move to get its products in front of prospective North American buyers. As such, the company is bringing its entire executive team out to Las Vegas. “We are signalling to the markets of Canada and the United States that we are looking to cultivate strong, new relationships, while simultaneously developing upon cooperative efforts with our existing client base,” technical director Domenico Ciano says.

 

Maeda (Booth G4017)

Maeda USA has a new mini-crawler crane, the CC1485, that the company is excited to show off. It’s the only small crawler sold in North America with a telescopic boom (that boom has a capacity of 6.6 tons, too).

 

Sandvik (S5128)

Sandvik Construction is going to have a pretty big display at the expo where it will feature its CS550 cone crusher, its brand-new QJ341+ mobile jaw crusher, its electrically driven UI310+ wheeled impact crusher, and its self-contained DT912D jumbo drill rig, among others.

Session: Tapping into New Technologies at the Tappan Zee Bridge Project (T14)

John Glinski, owner of Crane Training and Safety Consultants, will host one of three very promising sessions on Tuesday. Glinski will give an overview of the ongoing reconstruction to New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge and what innovative technologies are being employed on that project.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., March 7

 

Session: The Next Generation Job Site: Drones (T19)

Concurrent with the session above, Andres Vargas, kinematic integrations and applications engineer at RIEGL USA, will discuss various applications of drones in the construction industry: From estimating and surveying to giving potential clients aerial views of projects to structural inspection.

Vargas will also go over how contractors can find the right drones for their needs, what regulations they should be aware of, and what insurance or liability issues exist with drone deployment.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., March 7

 

Session: OSHA Compliance: How to Avoid Fines (T28)

Bruce Mosier, VP at Prins Insurance in Iowa and certified OSHA Outreach Trainer, will lead a session for contractors that will specifically address new laws governing OSHA (including its power to raise fines as of August 2016) and how contractors should interact with that organization.

Key points will include preparation for an inspection, a rundown of your rights as a contractor, communication with OSHA inspectors, and an overview of fines and penalties.

When: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 7

 

The Tech Experience

Organizers this year have a Tech Experience exhibit that, frankly, is going to be really cool. The showcase will be 75,000 square feet and feature some immersive technology, have solar-powered runways and include a 3D printed excavator, among other things.

Plus, the Tech Experience speakers list is outstanding. It includes NASA astronauts Captain Mark Kelly and Captain Scott Kelly, as well as Bruce Upbin from Hyperloop One. Look for some interesting talks on connected jobsites, the maker movement, SMART highways and high-tech protective equipment.

 

NSSGA 2017 Convention

The National Stone Sand and Gravel Association will hold its own annual convention in the days just before CONEXPO-CON/AGG, on March 3–7. Besides the networking opportunities and a scheduled Blue Man Group performance, there are some very good reasons for anyone in the industry to get to Las Vegas five days early.

On March 6 and 7, that convention will host educational sessions that will touch on strategic sales and basic supervisory skills. Also, the NSSGA announced at the beginning of the year that Ken Schmidt, former director of communications strategy at Harley-Davidson Motor Co., will close the general session.

For anyone who works in mining or with quarries, March offers an excellent opportunity to double up on conventions, make the most of those networking opportunities and maybe take in a trip to the Grand Canyon that Sunday.
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