Building a healthy work environment

By Jennifer Hernandez


Crew members broke ground last month for the construction of the UF Health Shands Heart & Vascular Hospital and the UF Health Neuromedicine Hospital, the organization’s latest efforts to provide patients with extensive care and further health education and research. Crews are installing green fences, large yellow excavating trucks are wheeling in and —like with any great change— people are interested.

Managed by Skanska USA, the $415 million project is in its early stages of development. The next few months will consist of preparing the land for construction. Crew members are currently clearing trees and shrubs, removing pavements and sidewalks and fencing the perimeter. Meanwhile, there are several steps to take to ensure the safety and wellness of UF Health patients and staff, and of the crew members working on site.

Wellness at the work site

Brad Pollitt, A.I.A., UF Health Shands Facilities Development vice president, said there will be more than 800 crew members employed throughout the entire project. Most of these workers will be sub-contractors managed by the Skanska safety office, and about 175 people are direct Skanska employees.

Rick Shelton, Skanska environmental health and safety manager, said there will be about 50 crew members working for the first three or four months on tasks like landscaping and electricity.

“Safety always supersedes production with Skanska,” Shelton said. The company has taken several measures to ensure employee wellness.

Skanska employees will have full membership to the UF Health Fitness and Wellness Center, which will offer blood and sugar testing, dietary education and wellness seminars several times a year.

“It goes a long way when you make safety personal,” he said. “It lets employees know we really care about them.”

Managing environmental hazards

Skanska’s interest in the well-being of its employees parallels UF Health’s interest in patient and staff health. As the project progresses, UF Health Shands will manage potential air-safety hazards, such as dust and fumes, by placing special filtration on air-conditioning units, Pollitt said. There will be hydrant trucks on site to dampen the soil and prevent dust from rising.

During construction, pedestrians are asked to be vigilant of the signs in the zones east of the Cancer hospital, like Rush Lake. Several areas will be fenced off and closed to foot and vehicle traffic.

During construction, pedestrians are asked to be vigilant of the signs in the zones east of the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital, like Rush Lake. Several areas will be fenced off and closed to foot and vehicle traffic.

For the time being, the crew is scoping the land in sections and taking precautions with the neighboring wetlands. To ensure water safety and avoid contamination, Skanska is responsible for preventing construction from coming in contact with fresh water in the area. The first phase of construction includes building a pond that will collect and retain water from storms. UF Health Shands will monitor the conditions of wildlife.

During construction, the zones east of the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital (south campus) will be fenced off and closed to foot and vehicle traffic. UF Health encourages patients to use free valet in the south campus, but self parking will also be available in Garage 10 in the north campus.

“We will be very careful with where we put our fencing” Shelton said. “We don’t want any obstructions to risk security and safety.”

Signs will be posted for safe walkways on the south campus, and lighting will be a priority. Patients, visitors and staff can request evening and nighttime escorts to and from the hospitals and parking areas.

Soon after the New Year, crew members will start excavating the land to create the basement and foundations of the buildings. As these specialty hospitals materialize, Shelton advises the community to be vigilant and obey the signs around the construction zone. Although some routine areas will be unavailable to drivers and pedestrians, Skanska and UF Health are working to make transit convenient, he said.

The first phase of construction should be complete by February 2015, Pollitt said, with construction wrapping up November 2017.