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Best Safety Project - Central Washington Hospital Patient Tower

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Photo by Vance Fox
Rising six-stories tall, the new patient tower is the tallest building in Wenatchee.
Photo by Vance Fox
Each patient room features a custom headwall with built in valves, a sleeper sofa and expansive windows looking over the Wenatchee Valley.
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Using a worker-to-worker observation program that paired up two different trades to study the crew's work on the $117-million Central Washington Hospital Patient Tower in Wenatchee, Wash., the team logged 489,934 man-hours without a lost-time accident.

Gene Hodge, director of project development at Mortenson Construction, Kirkland, Wash., says that the worker-to-worker program focuses heavily on moving jobsite cultures from "those of compliance to those of choice."

The plan provides the craft workforce the opportunity, authority, recognition and reward for not only actively identifying unsafe practices or jobsite hazards but also correcting them by addressing the concern with the person conducting the work, Hodge says.

For example, logistical observations made during the construction of the Central Washington Hospital Patient Tower included identifying an unsafe work area: The orientation of a worker's station caused his back to be toward traffic, and the peer review resulted in the relocation of the work area. In another case, hanger rods were observed being installed too close to the ceiling, which could have posed a hazard to crews or hospital employees working in the ceiling. A revised installation method was used in some locations and permanent protection was installed in others.

"Worker-to-worker observations and other safety items are recorded daily in our event management system across the company, enabling us to identify real-time, calendar and trade- or project-specific trends very quickly," Hodge says. "That gives us the knowledge necessary to make adjustments on our projects immediately and inform our team members of new hazards or issues of elevated concern."

With safety a high priority, crews were able to construct the new 176-room, six-story, 190,000-sq-ft patient tower 10 weeks ahead of schedule and $7 million under budget. The new facility also upgraded the type of care patients receive in Wenatchee with modern technologies that allow a healthier work environment and the diminished need to relocate patients to Seattle or Spokane hospitals.

Key Players

General Contractor: Mortenson Construction, Kirkland, Wash.

Owner: Central Washington Hospital, Wenatchee, Wash.

Design Firm: HDR Architecture, Seattle

Submitted by HDR Architecture

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