High-Security Jobs Pose Unique Challenges for Glazing Suppliers
April 15, 2011
Projects located in close proximity to government buildings can require high-security measures, such as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which is across the street from the West Wing of the White House and the Old Executive Office Building.Job-site challenges are inevitable on most any type of construction project, but when it comes to working on those mandating high-security, such as government facilities or those adjacent or nearby, these bring along a whole new set of requirements. Many companies in the glass and glazing industry have been involved with such projects and agree that there are a number of differences compared to working on the everyday job site.
George Petzen with LinEl Architectural Glass and Metal Solutions in Mooresville, Ind., has worked on a number of high-security projects including Smithsonian Museum facilities, the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum in New York, Federal Courthouses and Veterans Administration facilities. He says the key to working on these jobs—and future ones—is simple.
“If there are rules put in place, follow the rules every time and all the time,” says Petzen. “Violations are often one-time only [and mean] permanent removal from the project and/or financial penalties.”
“Everything has to be done up front and anyone on the job has to submit all the information for background checks—anyone who even comes in contact with the drawings,” adds Duf Hudson, executive vice president of Accura Systems, another company that has worked on high-security projects, including the Corps of Engineers’ San Antonio Military Medical Center. “We also have to sign statements that the drawings will be kept in a locked room and only certain people are allowed to see them.”
Hudson adds, “Also a lot of these projects require you have approval before you can even visit the project site.”
Even museums, such as the Guggenheim in New York, can mandate high-security procedures.But what about accessing the building itself? Post 9/11, anyone who has visited any government site as a tourist is certainly familiar with the extensive screenings required to enter the facility. As far as those working on construction projects, they, too, must go through similar routines.
Petzen says the typical screening/access process often includes ensuring no foreign nationals, background/security checks, personal fluid analysis and project-specific security awareness training. He says wearing badges is also a requirement and they cannot be lost.
Hudson adds it can also be a challenge simply getting materials onto the site.
“Even with our trucking companies, we have to submit the driver’s information for background checks so you can’t just substitute a driver at the last minute,” says Hudson. “That can be a challenge because we work with two trucking companies and we have little control over who the drivers are.”
While all jobs have challenges, those involving high-security areas are unique.
Hudson says when working on these projects there’s always an extra layer and from the beginning there may be additional stipulations, such as the number of submittals required.
“All of these projects are done by the letter of the law and it can be difficult to get things approved and moving fast,” he says. Hudson adds, though, for his company blast products have become its niche so they’ve become accustomed to these jobs and their challenges.
“Sometimes we can expedite things in house in advance to try and maintain the required schedule,” he says.
Still, working on a high-security project is like working on no other type of job and can provide experiences not easily forgotten.
“One unusual instance I recall was working across the street from the White House,” Petzen recalls. “When Marine One flies in or out, or a motorcade arrives or leaves, everyone has a five-minute warning to get off the roof. Little red dots can appear very quickly.”
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