Iraqi rebuilding raises safety risks
The multinational construction team building the new $100 million K1 New Iraqi Army Military Base outside of Kirkuk has been dealing with safety challenges since construction started last April. Phase One of the construction â€” consisting of 120 buildings, roads and utilities â€” is scheduled for completion this month.
â€œMany of our subcontractors have limited resources and are unable to provide the workforce with the tools we so commonly take for granted in America,â€ said Keith Pushaw, program manager with ECCI, the project's prime contractor. â€œThey also have little exposure to the safety culture, and workers often lack some of the basic essentials such as closed-top shoes.â€
ECCI has awarded much of the K1 construction work to four local companies. They have distributed work to more than 50 Iraqi subcontractors, employing as many as 2,600 workers a day, surpassing 2 million labor hours, said officials. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction reps provide quality assurance oversight on the project.
The base, designed to support a brigade of 3,000 soldiers, will include officer and enlisted barracks, dining facilities, headquarters buildings, maintenance facilities, a laundry, fire station, medical clinic, mosque, motor pool and firing ranges.
â€œWe have worked at establishing standards,â€ Pushaw said. â€œSafety has been a big issue on the work site too. We stress safety and quality, but it has been very challenging.â€
An onsite medical clinic provides first-aid treatment for workers and contract personnel, and hard hats, safety glasses and knee-high boots have been issued to workers. ECCI has also provided portable water coolers and tanks to help with the health and safety of the workforce.
â€œThis has been a learning process,â€ said Ali Ali Raoof, a local Iraqi civil engineer assisting with quality assurance at K1. â€œMaybe we have some problems and mistakes, but these are standards we are not use to. We are working through the challenges. We will have to be tougher on the workers and local contractors and make sure we are learning continuously.â€