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Vol. 46 No. 1

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Preparing for Rapid Response: How To Recognize Symptoms of Problems Ahead and How To Deal with Them
Construction risks can quickly take on mountainous proportions unless they are addressed when still in their molehill state. For that reason, experienced geoprofessional firms have project-intervention teams (PITs) to ensure rapid response to the first signs of problems. What does this strategy entail? That's the information that's provided in Preparing for Rapid Response: Assembling a Project-Intervention Team (PIT) Crew, the newest addition to the growing number of GBA Best Practices monographs. According to the new publication, the first step a firm must take is to establish an environment that encourages staff to speak up. All too often, those who face problems don't recognize them as problems or, if they do, go into denial, hoping the problems will dissipate or disappear: They won't. When people feel that inquiring about possible problems is the right thing to do, they will do it. Staff members also need professional development in order to recognize the early-warning signs of trouble ahead.
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New "Important Information..." Insert Sheet
"Important Information about This Geotechnical-Engineering Report" has been updated, effective May 1. We interviewed GBA Executive VP John Bachner about it. John created the original document some 35 years ago; it's the most popular document GBA has ever produced. According to John, the latest changes "are interim changes. The Geotechnical Business Council is considering a few more." And that's one of the more significant changes of itself, because the logo on the document is that of GBA’s Geotechnical Business Council rather than GBA. The title has also changed, although subtly, from "…Your Geotechnical-Engineering Report" to "…This Geotechnical-Engineering report." Why? John said, "The report is not really the client's. It's an instrument of professional service and, as such, is the property of the geotechnical engineer. That point is argued from time to time, of course, but using 'Your' implies it belongs to the client." Another important change: Reliance on the somewhat new modifier "confirmation-dependent" when describing recommendations included in the report. Coming soon, an even newer version of this insert sheet and updates to five others. Only GBA-Member Firms may use this and its companion insert sheets. And they are free of charge. Get your PDF now!
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Sessions from 2015 Spring Conference Now Available Online, On-Demand
Recorded sessions from GBA's 2015 Spring Conference in Miami are now online and available for free to members or for purchase by nonmembers ($999 for all, or individual sessions for less). Get the code for free access by members (member login required). Download the handouts for all presentations.

GBA helps you and your clients confront risk and optimize performance, and you'll get tons of great tips to do just that from these presentations (and speakers):
  • The Dark Side of Innovation (Kord J. Wissmann, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE);
  • Lead Smart: High Performance Leadership of the Generational Workforce (Jason Young);
  • Business Vision: April 2015-October 2015 (Matthew "Matt" Moler, P.E.);
  • Innovation for Any Company: How to Engage Employees in Solutions for the Future (Tabitha Crawford, CEM, CDSM);
  • Diversity Is the New Inclusion (James R. Threalkill);
  • Get Out of Your Box: Success with Multiple-Service-Line Projects (Anthony F. "Tony" Adamo, P.E.; James M. Harless, Ph.D., CHMM; and Randal G. "Randy" Martin, P.E.);
  • Investigation and Treatment of a Swallvette, aka: Sinkhole Remediation at the National Corvette Museum (Michael J. "Mike" Marasa, P.E.
  • Trapped Under the Sea (Neil Swidey);
  • Free Every Generation to Innovate (Amy Lynch);
  • Nuclear Regulatory Compliance: Lessons Learned; Action Taken (Leo J. Titus, Jr., P.E.);
  • Giving Back: An Investment in Our Profession (Victor R. "Vic" Donald, P.E.).

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ASTM D18 Committee on Soil and Rock To Meet in Anaheim
ASTM D18 Committee (on Soil and Rock) Week will occur June 15-17th in Anaheim, CA. According to Committee Chair and GBA Faculty Member John T. "Jack" Germaine, Ph.D., F.ASTM, "I believe that participation from experienced professionals will make our standards useful and technically sound. A well-written standard can have considerable impact on the profession….In addition, ASTM participation offers a range of professional development opportunities including committee leadership, symposium organization, reviewing standards, or authoring standards…ASTM meetings are open to the public. All we ask is that you register when in attendance. The annual membership fee is $75 per year. This provides access to all ASTM Committees, voting rights, and a free volume of the standards." Remember, ASTM — just like the rest of the world — is run by those who show up. Read the entirety of Jack's memo to GBA members.
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Save the Date: 2015 GBA Fall Conference in California
We're back in California at the beautiful St. Regis Monarch Beach resort in Dana Point for the 2015 GBA Fall Conference, October 8-10, 2015, where the conference theme will be "Confronting Risk for Our Firms and Our Clients: The ROI of Engagement." You recognize that your firm's success is heavily dependent on the level of engagement of its staff. But how do the leaders of successful firms achieve, maintain, and measure the return on their investment in a staff that is engaged in their work, engaged in their company, engaged with their clients, and engaged in their communities? How do these leaders combat what has been termed "cultural malware?" The symptoms are, among others: disengagement, disruption, dysfunction, discourtesy, poor quality, and poor service. You'll get insight, experience, and guidance on the strategies and metrics that presenters believe have, or have not, worked.
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  Past Conferences on Demand

Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.

Expanded USDA Program To Help Mitigate Drought
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $73 million in some 150 dam-rehabilitation and assessment projects in 23 states. This includes projects that also help increase water supply, thanks to last year's changes to the watershed-rehabilitation program. Half of this year's dam assessments, including 15 in drought-stricken California, will establish the feasibility of using watershed-rehabilitation funds to mitigate drought. Is it time for your firm to be involved? (If not now, when?)
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Moist-Curing Room Design, Construction, and Maintenance
Moist-Curing Room Design, Construction, and Maintenance is the title of a comprehensive guide published by GBA's Construction-Materials Engineering and Testing Business Council (CoMETBC). GBA Director Woodward L. "Woody" Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE, F.ACI, F.ASTM, CEO of Paradigm Consultants, Inc. authored the new work based on his own extensive experience and the experience of a panel of experts he assembled when planning his firm's newest moist-curing room. As he wrote in the guide's preface, "As I began planning to build a new moist-curing room for the fourth time in my career, I first and foremost wanted to avoid the unfortunate outcomes of my own past mistakes: mold, rust, leaks, mold, slippery floors, damaged walls, mold, poor lighting, maintenance headaches, and — did I mention it? — mold." Illustrated with 30 figures, the guide’s contents cover just about every moist-curing room issue that needs consideration. Publication of the new work was made possible by the generous contributions of several Business Council members and three principal sponsors: Agile Frameworks, Elm Tree System, and Bachner Communications, Inc.
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KPMG Study: Project Cost Overruns, Delays Plague 60% of Major Owners
Building Design + Construction
Six of every ten major public- and private-sector owners are unhappy; they experienced one or more underperforming projects in 2014. According to KPMG International's Global Construction Survey 2015, seven of every ten of the responding owners' projects exceeded budget by more than 10%; three of every four exceeded their deadline by more than 10%. Seven of every ten owner reps polled pointed to "poor contractor performance" as one of the biggest reasons for cost overruns and delays; only one-third claimed they have a "high" level of trust in their constructors in charge. The lack of trust, the survey found, stems from widespread use of lump-sum, fixed-price contracts, which defer risk to the constructor in charge. Owner representatives also point to their own talent shortages and their failure to integrate project-management information systems (PMIS) into accounting- and procurement-software programs.
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Date Event Location
October 8-10, 2015 GBA Fall Conference St. Regis Monarch Beach
Dana Point, California
January 29-31, 2016 GBA Winter Leadership Conference Hyatt Dulles Hotel
Herndon, Virginia

  For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.

FROM THE BENCH: Are LinkedIn Connections Trade Secrets?
Human Resources, Inc.
The case of Cellular Accessories for Less, Inc. v. Trinitas LLC illustrates the need to keep your policies up-to-date. The plaintiff — Cellular Accessories for Less, Inc. (Cellular), a seller of mobile-phone accessories — alleged its former employee and the competing company that hired him (Defendants) had violated the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act by maintaining the LinkedIn contacts the employee had established with Cellular’s client representatives, while the employee worked there. Defendants sought summary judgment, saying that LinkedIn contacts cannot be considered trade secrets because they are publicly available on the internet. Cellular argued that public availability depends on privacy settings. The court refused to dismiss the case, but it did not go to trial because the disputants settled. Nonetheless, it does raise some questions that may be important to you. What are your policies in this respect? What can you do to protect your firm?
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YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING: 57 Stories in 19 Days
Bangkok Post
Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a Chinese prefab developer, has distributed a time-lapse video showing how it assembled a 2,736-module, 57-story building in 19 days. The building comprises 800 apartments, office space for 4,000 people, and 18 atria. Dubbed "Mini Sky City," the building is located in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. The modules were built in a factory over a 4.5-month period. BSB's next project is the 200-story Sky City, slated to become the world's tallest.
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Mining and Construction 1, 2 in Alcohol Abuse
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS') Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) gathers information about substance abuse by conducting a National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) every four years. According to the latest report, "U.S. companies lose billions of dollars a year because of employees' alcohol and drug use and related problems. Substance use negatively affects U.S. industry through lost productivity, workplace accidents and injuries, employee absenteeism, low morale, and increased illness." Bad news: The amount of abuse seems to be increasing. For the period 2003-2007, miners were the heaviest drinkers, with 16.2% admitting to heavy alcohol use; i.e., drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on 5 or more days in the past 30 days. For the period 2008-2012, the number increased to 17.5%. In the second position, construction-industry workers, whose heavy drinking rate went from 15.6% over the 2003-2007 period to 16.5% during 2008-2012. Construction-industry workers also took second spot when it came to the use of illicit drugs; i.e., marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, or prescription-type drugs used nonmedically. During the 2003-2007 period, 11.6% of construction workers abused drugs. That number rose to 13.9% for the period 2008-2012. The biggest "druggies"? Those in accommodations and food services, where 19.1% confessed to abuse during the 2008-2012 period.
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New Confined-Space Safety Rule from OSHA
U.S. Department of Labor
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to increase protections for construction personnel who work in confined spaces (e.g., manholes, crawl spaces, and tanks) and face life-threatening hazards, including toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions, and asphyxiation. OSHA says the rule's application will prevent about 800 serious injuries a year. According to an OSHA spokesperson, "Unlike most general-industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses." The new rule emphasizes training and requires multiple employers to share vital safety information and continuously monitor hazards.
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Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)

Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)

Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(Terracon / Nashville, TN)

Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH)

Kenneth R. Johnston
(GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. / Norwood, MA)

Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)

Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)

Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)


Phone: 301/565-2733

Executive Vice President
John P. Bachner
Ext. 223 /

Operations Director
Sarah P. Lanning, PMP
Ext. 231 /

Program Director
Barbara A. Nappy
Ext. 222 /

Program Manager
Sara Menase
Ext. 232 /

Associate Program Manager
Melody A. Patrick
Ext. 225 /

Phillip D. Pettway
Ext. 233 /


John P. Bachner, NewsLog Editor-in-Chief, 301.565.2733 ext. 223   
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Cait Harrison, Content Editor, 469.420.2657   
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