After driving 20 minutes from the South Bay of San Diego, Jaime Gonzales parks his car along Catalina at the entrance to Fort Rosecrans cemetery and gets into a white, 12-passenger van. This van takes Gonzales to PLNU, where he works as layout coordinator for the new science building on campus.
The constant beeping, hammering and buzzing noises that ring out from behind the green fences enclosing the new science building are now a normal part of PLNU’s campus. These noises and the building that is slowly rising from the ground come from the hands of people like Gonzales.
Currently an average of 35 workers are on the construction site daily.
“This number will go up when concrete slabs/decks are poured and once the concrete structure is completed when interiors/glazing starts,” says Doug Ogie, Sr., superintendent of Rudolph and Sletten. Monday through Friday, these workers make their ways from various parts of San Diego. Most have been instructed to park off campus.
“As part of the contract with PLNU and to be a ‘good neighbor,’ workers are instructed not to park on-site or within the neighborhood near the campus,” said Ogie. “Trade foremen and lead workers are parking either on-site or in the old north tennis courts where we currently have the jobsite trailers.”
The other workers park along Catalina by the entrance to Fort Rosecrans cemetery. A shuttle van runs from the cemetery to PLNU three times in the morning and three times after work to bring the workers to the site then back to their vehicles.
Gonzales is positive about the parking situation.
“It’s a little hassle because I’ve never done it before, but it’s not a huge deal,” Gonzales said.
Out of the 35 people who work on-site each day, about half park off campus and if they all park at the same time, some will have to wait a bit until they get to campus.
“There’s too many people for one shuttle,” said Gonzales. “About 15 of the people park down there, but the shuttle only fits 12.”
What is unique to the new science is the building site is the size of the building compared to the size of the lot. The building is 36,000 square feet and the open space next to the building is only 10,000 square feet.
“There is no space for storage on-site. Equipment and building material will be delivered on an as needed basis,” said Ogie. “Which means it will be delivered when it is ready to be installed on or within the building.”
Also, some installations are worked around school breaks. The crew worked along Lomaland during the summer, they will work on Caf Lane and the lawn to the east of it during winter break, and complete work along Caf Lane after school is out for the summer.
Currently, work hours are 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays as needed. To make sure that the job site is secure; site fencing, video surveillance and Public Safety across from the site has kept the site safe after work hours. According to Ogie there have been no security issues to this date, but if anyone was to ever wander on the site without proper training, an accident could happen.
To keep all the workers safe on-site, Rudolph and Sletten have a job site safety coordinator to keep track of everyone and make sure that they’re following procedures.
“My job is to keep these guys safe, no matter what trade or what company,” said Tracy McDaniel, the job site safety coordinator and for the new science building.
McDaniel has been doing this for 23 years and is the only safety coordinator on-site. She went through an apprenticeship to learn how to safely oversee all the workers, and then went out in the field.
A job site safety coordinator is important to have on-site in case of an accident.
“A lot of things happen. If something falls, a hard hat might save you from injury,” said Gonzales.
He has never had an accident happen to him or seen an accident on the new science building site, but has seen one on another site.
“One time I worked on a job and rebar went through a guy’s leg and he fell over,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales just stood there, waiting for the worker to respond.
“He was pretty tough, got up and bandaged himself and said ‘Okay, lets go to the hospital,’” said Gonzales. “Since he was calm about it, I was able to keep calm too.”
Construction sites are active environments, so the workers always have to be aware of what’s going on and stay alert.
Accidents aren’t abnormal, but can be avoided if the right precautions are taken.
“I’ve seen pieces of fingers taken off,” said “But that’s why Rudolph and Sletten hires safety coordinators, so hopefully nothing like that happens.”
An eight-hour safety training orientation is mandatory for new hires, go though a couple hours of training, and unless the workers are off for six months, then they won’t go through the training again. The training includes information about site rules, three to four-hour-long safety videos that tell hires the way that things are supposed to be done and drug testing.
“Most guys on our site are new,” said Ogie. “All the workers wear blue hats and the new guys that haven’t worked for us for at least two years have a red stripe around their hat.”
Once they have made it to two years, they cut a strip off every month until the red stripe is gone. This is just to show how long the workers have been with them and to know they’re working safely.
Every trade has a foreman that is in charge of their workers and work.
“This will include but [is] not limited to plumbers, pipe fitters, HVAC , sheet metal, electrical, concrete formwork, glazing, drywall, flooring, framing and drywall,” said Ogie.
The crews are organized, sent off to do their jobs in the morning and then check in with their foreman throughout the day.
“The hardest part is getting everyone together and everyone on the same page, “ said Gonzales. “Sometimes there’s complications, but it’s just about getting everything organized and letting the foreman’s know where their guys need to go.”
Once 3:30 rolls around, everyone can be shuttled back to their cars at the cemetery.
Doug Ogie, Sr.