Dolese team helps to mask the masses

As the coronavirus swept through the United States, workers at Dolese Bros. Co. stepped forward to help friends, family, and co-workers by sewing masks. The effort was spearheaded by Julie Tucker and Donna Smith, who both work in the company’s accounting department.

Members of the accounting department at Dolese Bros. Co. worked together to sew hundreds of masks to protect friends, family, and co-workers.

“We kind of felt a loss of control,” Tucker says as the group saw the rapid spread of COVID-19 through New York City. As she wondered what she could do, Smith offered to show her how to sew. Smith found a pattern while Tucker pulled out a sewing machine that had been stashed in the back of her closet for nearly 15 years.

Other members of the department pitched in by helping to cut, pin, and press fabric. “The majority of us here have had our hands in it at some point,” Tucker says. “It just kind of spiraled.” Within weeks, the group had sewn hundreds of masks that were shared with people throughout the community.

While the shutdown of local stores such as Hobby Lobby made it more difficult for the volunteers to find supplies, they received numerous fabric donations.

MSHA cancels Program Policy Letter on escapeways

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced the cancellation of a proposed Program Policy Letter on escapeways and refuges in underground metal and non-metal mines.

The proposed Program Policy Letter was published in the Federal Register on July 29, 2019, (84 FR 36623) for public comment.  In October 2019, MSHA held a public stakeholder meeting to give the public additional opportunity to provide feedback.  After reviewing the comments, MSHA has determined that the proposed clarification is not needed.

The Notice of Cancellation can be viewed on May 26, 2020, at the Office of the Federal Register’s Public Inspection Desk.

Fatality Alert: May fatality highlights the importance of lock-out/tag-out

The seventh metal/non-metal fatality of 2020 involved a “Material Handling” incident. Photo courtesy of MSHA.

On May 2, 2020, a miner entered a dredged sand and gravel bin through a lower access hatch to clear an obstruction. The miner was clearing the blockage with a bar when the material inside the bin fell and engulfed him. The accident marks the seventh fatality of the year and the second classified as material handling.

MSHA offers the following best practices to prevent these types of accidents: 

  1. Lock-out, tag-out. Never enter a bin until the supply and discharge equipment is locked out.
  2. Train miners to recognize and safely remove all potential hazards before beginning work and when clearing blocked hoppers.
  3. Equip bins with mechanical devices such as vibrating shakers or air cannons to loosen blockages, or provide other effective means of handling material so miners are not exposed to entrapment hazards by falling or sliding material.
  4. Follow manufacturer recommendations for clearing out blockages.
  5. Establish and discuss policies and procedures for safely clearing bins.
  6. Install a heavy screen (grizzly) to control the size of the material and prevent clogging.

Foundation established by former Ash Grove Cement president funds relief efforts

The Sunderland Foundation gave The Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) a $100,000 gift, the Ozarks Independent reports. In turn, the CFO has passed over $1 million in COVID-19 grants.

In its latest round of donations includes grants to the following:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Springfield for food, supplies and virtual programming opportunities.
  • O-STEAM to support the use of 3D printers to make face shields for emergency workers.
  • People Helping People for food pantry expenses.
  • Shepherd’s Nook Food Pantry for food pantry expenses.
  • Ministerial Alliance of the Hermann Area to assist low-income families with COVID-19 emergency expenses.
  • Mountain Grove Love Food Center for food distribution.
  • NAMI for virtual support-group expenses and mental health responders.

The Sutherland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as the president of Ash Grove Cement Co. for 33 years.

CEMEX delivers soap and water mixture via mixer trucks

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CEMEX has dispatched its mixer trucks filled with soap and water mixtures to sanitize streets and public health areas around the world.

Projects include:

  • A hospital emergency room entrance in the Dominican Republic,
  • The streets of Puerto Rico,
  • Areas around Panama health centers,
  • Colombia’s largest central market (1.9 million square feet), and
  • Hospital entrances and the university campus in Assiut, Egypt.

The company also donated nearly 900 pounds of clementines grown at a reclaimed quarry site in Alicante Spain to a shelter in that city.

Glenn O. Hawbaker works with YMCA to ensure children don’t go hungry

Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc. teamed up with the YMCA of Centre County to ensure that no child goes hungry during these unprecedented times. The YMCA branch gathered resources to distribute food at drive-through sites across the county and reports it is providing food to more than 2,000 kids and families in need at 32 sites each day.

GOH worked with Valley Trailers, which donated the trailer used to transport food from the Food Bank in Williamsport, Pa., to the Moshannon Valley YMCA in Philipsburg.

CalPortland named Energy Star Partner 16th time

CalPortland announced that it has once again been awarded the 2020 Energy Star Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award for continued leadership and superior contributions to Energy Star by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“CalPortland is proud to receive the 2020 Energy Star Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award,” said CalPortland President/CEO Allen Hamblen in a press release. The award is the highest honor among Energy Star awards.

“Finding new and innovative solutions to create energy efficiencies has become an integral part of our company culture, and we are honored to celebrate our employees’ ongoing efforts by achieving this tremendous award for the 16th consecutive year,” Hamblen added. “CalPortland remains committed to reducing emissions and reducing our company’s environmental footprint by contributing to the circular economy.”

CalPortland has been an Energy Star Partner since 1996 and says it remains dedicated to demonstrating and promoting energy efficiency within the company and to other companies in the construction materials industry. The 2020 national award is the sixteenth consecutive Energy Star Partner of the Year Award for CalPortland; a feat that has never been matched by any other industrial company.

Since 2003, CalPortland’s energy management efforts have reduced the company’s overall energy intensity by 16.5 percent, avoiding $135 million in unnecessary energy costs. Key 2019 accomplishments include:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint and embodied energy of its cement products by developing for the market blended cements.
  • Advancing energy efficiency and emission reductions through extensive upgrades to the company’s mobile fleet, rail operations, and cement plants, amounting to significant expenditures in capital efficiency projects.
  • Working with the leadership of the national cement, concrete, and asphalt trade associations to increase industry involvement in energy management and Energy Star.
  • Earning Energy Star certification for the eighth consecutive time for the Rillito Cement Plant.
  • Incorporating strategic elements in the corporate energy program by using Energy Star’s cement plant certification, Challenge for Industry, and Treasure Hunt campaign.
  • Focusing on community engagement and in-person education by reaching more than 136,000 individuals on good energy management best practices and Energy Star.
  • Incorporating energy management and Energy Star into the company’s corporate-wide professional development training program through videos, an intranet site, new employee orientation, and regular employee engagements.

“I salute the 2020 Energy Star award winners,” said Anne Idsal, EPA principal deputy assistant administrator for air and radiation. “These leaders demonstrate how energy efficiency drives economic competitiveness in tandem with environmental protection.”

LafargeHolcim revises its 2020 guidance in response to the global pandemic

While construction materials markets have been more resilient than many others, LafargeHolcim reports that it is now experiencing disruptions in operations in various countries.

In China, the recovery of the construction sector has started and all its plants outside of Hubei Province are operating. The company forecasts the market demand to further recover and to supply 70 percent of last year’s volume in April 2020.

In most of the other key markets, however, the construction sector is disrupted, and it forecasts significant volume declines in April and May, with a significant negative impact on its business in the second quarter.

“Currently the development of the Coronavirus pandemic and its implications for the business are volatile and very different from country to country,” the company said in a press release. “In order to mitigate the financial impact of the situation, we have launched the action plan ‘HEALTH, COST & CASH’ for immediate execution in all countries.”

Key objectives include the following:

  • Reduction of CAPEX by at least $416 million compared to 2019;
  • Reduction in fixed cost by $312 million in 2020;
  • Realization of reduction of energy prices and full review of all third-party products and services; and
  • Reduction of net working capital at least in line with level of activity.

Based on a significantly strengthened balance sheet, LafargeHolcim has liquidity of $8.3 billion as of March 26, 2020.

“Due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the guidance for 2020 is no longer valid,” it notes. “While the implementation of the action plan ‘HEALTH, COST & CASH’ is in full execution, the dynamic, volatile development of the Coronavirus pandemic makes it currently no longer possible to fully evaluate its impact on the performance of LafargeHolcim in 2020. We will provide a more comprehensive business update at the first quarter 2020 results release on April 30, 2020.”

Aggregates producers offer assistance throughout the world

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, construction materials producers are stepping up to the help their communities all over the globe.

  • LafargeHolcim’s innovation center in Lyon has donated its 4,000 N95 masks and 10,000 gloves to the the Bourgoin Jailleu hospital.
  • York Building Products donated 200 N955 masks to Lancaster General.
  • CEMEX mixers in Columbia delivered a special soap and water mixture to sanitize an area that will be set up as a large temporary hospital.
  • Martin Marietta and Granite Construction are encouraging donations to the American Red Cross.

These companies and so many more are showing what it means to be a good neighbor!

Infrastructure investment can jump start the economy

To date, Congress has approved three aid packages, including the most recent $2 trillion package, trying to offset the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. economy. While House and Senate leaders appear to have different opinions on the need for a fourth package, numerous organizations say infrastructure investment is another option to jumpstart the economy while addressing significant transportation needs.

President Trump signaled his approval for an infrastructure package after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi raised the issue during an appearance on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ program earlier today. He weighed in on Twitter, noting “With interest rates for the United States being at zero, this is the time to do our decades long awaited infrastructure bill. It should be very big and bold, $2 trillion, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our country! Phase 4.”

While the legislative and executive branches may not yet be in agreement about infrastructure spending as part of a fourth stimulus package, numerous groups say this typically bipartisan issue would benefit the economy.

Transportation Construction Coalition

The Transportation Construction Coalition spelled out its argument for infrastructure spending in a letter to Congress’ majority and minority leaders in House and Senate.

“While there are diverse and well-intended views on how federal policy can stabilize and resuscitate the U.S. economy during times of crisis, there are few initiatives that can match the combination of immediate and long-term benefits of increased infrastructure,” the TCC writes. “The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee last July demonstrated infrastructure legislation focused on providing tangible outcomes can also garner overwhelming bipartisan support. The Committee’s unanimous approval of a five-year reauthorization of the federal highway program offers a proactive and meaningful path forward for Congress to deliver an urgently needed economic boost.”

The World Economic Forum

The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association recently shared a post from the World Economic Forum titled: Why infrastructure is the only way to fight a COVID-19 recession in the US.

“When monetary policy isn’t enough, a country must turn towards fiscal policy,” WEC writes. “Right now, reviving the lagging US infrastructure sector may be the best approach: infrastructure creates economic growth, 5G cellular infrastructure will allow for faster data rates, a better electric grid allows us to drive electric cars, and new roads reduce congestion and commute times.”

The report notes that the US is 30 years behind on its infrastructure. Its three-point solution includes consolidating government authority to execute infrastructure projects, prioritizing projects using data-driven decision-making process, and harnessing innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution to improve construction technology.

The Conference Board

The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board has a similar message. In a recent Solutions Brief, it notes that such an option is a pressing 2020 issue to address economic slowdowns.

“As we face this crisis, we need world-leading infrastructure to facilitate the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses and create opportunities for all Americans to prosper,” says CED President Lori Esposito Murray. “A bold commitment to infrastructure investment now will super-charge the U.S. economy and help us pull ourselves out of this downturn.”