A near total lack of safety rules and regulations have made reconstruction efforts in Iraq an even riskier business than it already is, reports the Army News Service.

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 — consisting of 120 buildings, roads and utilities — is scheduled for completion this month.

“Many of our subcontractors have limited resources and are unable to provide the workforce with the tools we so commonly take for granted in America,” said Keith Pushaw, program manager with ECCI, the project's prime contractor. “They also have little exposure to the safety culture, and workers often lack some of the basic essentials such as closed-top shoes.”

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.

“We have worked at establishing standards,” Pushaw said. “Safety has been a big issue on the work site too. We stress safety and quality, but it has been very challenging.”

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.

“This has been a learning process,” said Ali Ali Raoof, a local Iraqi civil engineer assisting with quality assurance at K1. “Maybe 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.”