What’s that smell?! If you share a refrigerator with co-workers, you may ask yourself this question multiple times a week. Expired yogurt, forgotten takeout, leaky containers… all these and more can contribute to a not so fresh aroma that can permeate the kitchen area and beyond.
The first thing to consider when utilizing a communal fridge setup is to assess the temperature of both the refrigerator and freezer. According to Foodsafety.gov, the ideal temperature for refrigerators is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. For freezers, the Food and Drug Administration recommends 0 degrees Fahrenheit as an ideal target to preserve food as long as possible. It’s a good practice to double check temperatures with a thermometer—don’t trust the appliance’s internal readout. Temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees are what’s known as the “danger zone” and should be avoided at all costs. Bacteria is the enemy and it thrives in this temperature range. It not only smells bad, but it can make you sick and even lead to death. According to Foodborneillness.com, there are 31 known foodborne pathogens. 90% of all illnesses due to these known pathogens are caused by seven of the most common:
- E. coli O157:H7
- Clostridium perfringens
Bacteria can begin growing in just 20 minutes in food stored in the aforementioned “danger zone” temperature range. To be safe, throw out any perishable food items from the refrigerator that are over a week old, even if they’ve been stored at the proper temperature. If you notice mold or something smells funny, err on the side of caution and discard the item immediately. If power is lost and you cannot determine how long it’s been out, throw away perishable items—better safe than sorry. If you do happen to ingest something that makes you feel sick, determine if it’s food poisoning or just a run of the mill stomach bug. Healthline.com has some valuable information in determining which is which:
Food poisoning can be serious. Avoid solid foods until any nausea or vomiting has ceased. Avoid spicy/greasy/fried/sweet foods. Eat small amounts of bland foods like, bread, crackers, rice or bananas. Sip on clear fluids and gradually increase the amount to stay hydrated. Webmd.com suggests calling a doctor if symptoms last more than 3 days or you have:
- Severe stomach pain
- Prolonged vomiting
- Signs of dehydration
Hot, soapy water should be used to clean up any spills as soon as they are spotted. Once a spill is left for too long, it can seep into cracks and crevices, harden and become more difficult to remove.
Cleaning should be a shared responsibility in an office environment. Make a rotating schedule for everyone who uses the refrigerator to clean it every week or two. If we all take pride in keeping the fridge clean, the risk for foodborne diseases will decrease and you will feel a sense of accomplishment for a job well done.
Food labels also contain valuable information for storage guidelines and expiration dates. Did you know there are a plethora of items that people commonly think need to be refrigerated but actually don’t? Keep these items out of the fridge to improve the taste as well as free up some valuable refrigerator real estate for your co-workers. (cnet.com)
Another good tip is to label items you put into the communal fridge. If Items belonging to you are labeled, they’re less likely to “disappear” and you won’t have to spend money eating out instead of enjoying those delicious leftovers you whipped up last night.
One can argue whether or not global warming is occurring, but facts prevent the argument that our climate is not changing. For example, this was the first year on record for three hurricanes to hit the U.S. at Category 4 or greater – Harvey (category 4), Irma (category 5) and Jose (category 4). In addition, Houston has had a 500-year flood event each of the last three years. The probability of three successive 500-year flood events is 0.000000008. In the national media we often hear how climate change will impact the coastal states, but how will it affect us here in the Ohio River Basin? I had the privilege of being the Project Manager for a recent study that was the first comprehensive study to evaluate the impacts of climate change on the Ohio River Basin’s water resources infrastructure and its ecosystem. It was conducted by a team of engineers and scientists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), USEPA, the National Weather Service’s Ohio River Forecast Center, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Marshall University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of New Hampshire, The Nature Conservancy, and several consulting firms.
The study was led and funded by the USACE, which has a compelling need to understand and adapt to climate change because our nation’s water resources infrastructure represents tremendous federal investment that supports public safety and local and national economies. In an effort to gain a better understanding of how climate change could impact the nation’s water resources infrastructure and our ecosystems, the USACE conducted 19 climate change pilot studies across the U.S. to test new ideas and develop new information needed to develop national policy and guidance. One of these pilot studies was conducted on the Ohio River Basin.
The Ohio River Basin contains a multitude of reservoirs, locks and dams, power generation plants and other types of infrastructure that depend on sustainable water resources. In addition, ecological resources in the basin include numerous federally-protected species that may be at risk from climate change. The two primary purposes of the study were to investigate how climate change could impact water resources infrastructure (locks, dams, levees, etc.) and the potential effects of climate change on the basin’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and threatened and endangered species.
The Ohio River Basin is over 204,000 square miles and covers all or parts of 14 states stretching from New York to Alabama. It is home to 27 million people, five million of which rely on the Ohio River for drinking water. Water resources in the basin provide $1.5 billion to the nation’s economy each year.
The study was based on a global climate change model produced by the International Panel on Climate Change and adapted by an interagency water resources group comprised of four federal government entities, including the USGS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Ohio River Forecast Center (ORFC) modeled mean air temperature and average precipitation over three 30-year periods: from 2011-2040, from 2041-2070, and from 2071-2099 at 25 gage points throughout the basin. However, before conducting these out-year simulations, the ORFC back-casted the model for the period from 1952-2001. Remarkably, the output data for temperature and stream flows from the back-casted model was within 2% of observed historical readings in all 25 data points throughout the basin. Therefore, the model was calibrated very accurately.
The model predicted there will be little change in air temperature and precipitation from 2011-2040. However, from 2041 to 2099, the northeastern and eastern portions of the basin will experience greater rainfall and river discharges. Specifically, as much as 35%-50% greater stream flows during the spring within the Allegheny, Monongahela, Kanawha and Big Sandy River sub-basins. During this same period, the northwestern and western portions of the basin also will experience greater rainfall and river discharges in the spring season, but the fall season will bring significant reductions in rainfall and thus decreased river flows and possibly drought. The model predicted as much as 25%-35% less flows during the fall within the Great Miami, Wabash, East Fork of the Wabash, White, Scioto and Muskingum River Basins.
In summary, between 2011-2040 the mean, maximum and minimum flows are within the historical range. However, from 2041-2099 the minimum flows are likely to decrease in the fall and peak spring floods are likely to increase. The good news is we have about 20 years to take action to plan for and minimize the potential negative impacts to our basin due to climate change.
The National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) require that every publicly-owned, bridge-sized structure carrying traffic must be inspected every 24 months as a means to ensure the safety of the traveling public and keep our transportation system moving. But what is a bridge-sized structure? Isn’t any bridge a bridge? Not in this case. The NBIS defines a bridge-sized structure as “an opening measured along the center of the roadway of more than 20 feet between (faces) of abutments or spring lines of arches, or extreme ends of openings for multiple boxes; it may also include multiple pipes, where the clear distance between openings is less than half of the smaller contiguous opening.” That means that the clear span under a bridge or the distance from one side of a culvert system to the other has to be more than 20 feet.
The magic number is 20 feet. Every public bridge or culvert over 20 feet long should be inspected on a regular basis to check for maintenance issues, deficiencies, and functionality. In order for each State to stay in compliance with the Federal mandate, a trained eye needs to inspect each of those structures every 24 months. What if your bridge only spans 19’-10”? What if you have a culvert made up of three, 6-foot diameter corrugated metal pipes? Any structure 20 feet or less is considered a small structure, and several counties and cities have vast small structure inventories that have no requirements for inspection by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The 1968 Federal-Aid Highway Act limited the bridge inventory to Federal-Aid highway system bridges. After the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1978 was passed, NBIS requirements were extended to include bridges greater than 20 feet on all public roads. These requirements enforce the inspection of over 605,000 bridge-sized structures in our nation. There is really nothing magic about 20 feet; the government just needed a reasonable cutoff for funding and it is easy to see that this system covers a great number of bridges. Structures 20 feet or less are not part of this system, however, and their inspection is the Owner’s responsibility. If you are unsure whether or not someone is inspecting the small structures in your inventory, then it’s possible they are not being inspected regularly, if at all.
Small structures need your attention. As a local public agency (LPA), it is important to realize that the small structures in your transportation system are not on the list for your State inspection. This reveals to you that these structures may very well have been left to age on their own, possibly since the day they were constructed. Many LPAs don’t even have a good inventory of these structures and rely heavily on their highway maintenance crews and the general public to let them know if repairs are needed. Often the “bridge inspection” performed by the public is based on what they see as they drive down the road. They will be quick to report a pothole, broken guardrail, or overflowing culvert because these things can generally be seen from inside their vehicle. The motoring public will rarely see the bottom of the bridge or the inside of the culvert barrel. The highway maintenance worker may get a better look, but these are still untrained eyes looking at vital pieces of our roadways. These workers may not understand issues with scour or the importance of simple maintenance that can prolong structure life. What can we do to improve the safety of our county and city roads? We can develop a plan to inventory, inspect, maintain, and repair our small structures. Small structure inspections are an important part of local highway maintenance and are becoming more important as our infrastructure ages and funding becomes slim.
It costs money to have an inspector look at all these structures. Money that could be used to fill a pothole, replace a light pole, patch a barrier, or replace a culvert. True. The initial price of small structures inspections often seems like a burden, but the advantage can well outweigh the cost. These inspections help the LPA to understand the status of all their small structures so that maintenance and repairs can be prioritized. Simply developing an inventory of small structures for an LPA is a great start and can be a good resource on its own for planning maintenance.
DLZ recommends that you contact a trained inspector and discuss your small structures inventory and any structures or areas of concern. An inspector can help develop an inventory of structures, prioritize inspection with help from the LPA, perform inspections, and return information to the owner about maintenance and repair needs and prioritization, and even replacement recommendations. This information will allow the LPA to make informed decisions in budgeting for future maintenance and repair.
DLZ has a team of bridge inspectors that has performed thousands of bridge-sized and small structure inspections throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Our expertise and guidance has allowed LPAs to prioritize funding while maintaining road safety for their communities. Make sure someone is looking at your small structures and let us know if we can help.
Communities lie at the heart of all we do. As a company and as individuals, DLZ believes strongly in giving back to communities; not only those in which we work and live, but those that are less fortunate than others. DLZ’s staff contribute their time and talent to a number of organizations that help improve the lives and health of individuals throughout the world. That’s why we are proud to partner with the Central Ohio Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-COh) and what it is doing in Guatemala.
In 2015, EWB-COh embarked on a new project in Las Victorias, a very poor Guatemalan community of about 400 people (over half under the age of 16, and 70 under the age of 5) mostly of Mayan descent. With the help of a local NGO (non-governmental organization) that supports the indigenous people, Las Victorias submitted an application to EWB National requesting a primary school for its community. The community’s young children were walking a couple miles over rugged terrain every day to the nearest school. The paths were impassable during the rainy season. The children were often made fun of for their Mayan ancestry; most of the country is of Spanish background. In an attempt to improve the situation, the community built a small, two-room wooden shack (dirt floor, open windows) to use as a temporary school. The building was far too small to hold all the children, and they realized something better was needed. The community felt so strongly about the need for a local school that its members pooled their money and bought property to use for the school. Even though they didn’t have the resources to build the school, they felt that education was the only way that their children might have a better life.
EWB-COh visited the community in 2016 to do an initial assessment and determined that the project would potentially have several phases. Because of the steep terrain, the site initially had to be leveled. In order to stabilize the steep soil cuts along the edges of the site, the first phase was to construct a large 17-foot retaining wall along two sides of the site. EWB-COh designed the wall, raised money for construction and completed construction in 2017. EWB-COh is currently working on designing the school building, and construction is scheduled to begin in October 2018. Subsequent phases may include additional classrooms for higher grades, better access to potable water, and sanitary latrines.
DLZ employees Jim Siebert and Mike Kennedy have played an active role in the EWB-COh’s work in Guatemala. Jim helped raise money for construction and led both the analysis and design of the retaining wall. Jim was there for the initial assessment trip and spent a week in Guatemala helping start construction of the wall. DLZ, a long-time supporter of EWB-COh, provided the survey equipment used to check the layout of the wall, and our in-house materials laboratory tested samples of soil and concrete brought back from Guatemala. Both Jim and Mike are helping to design the school and prepare the site grading. Jim will be traveling to Guatemala again when construction of the next phase begins.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping others, especially working on projects that help other people help themselves”, said Jim.
EWB’s philosophy is to develop sustainable infrastructure projects to improve the quality of life in developing countries. Because of Jim’s engineering and construction background, he feels fortunate to be part of this effort. So far, Jim has taken seven trips to Central America on EWB work; he says he’s always impressed with how hard the local people work and how thankful they are for the help.
As a company, DLZ knows the importance of giving back, and we are grateful for our generous employees that make community service a lifestyle. Although EWB volunteers pay their own way and the community provides manual labor at no cost, money is needed for materials and certain skilled labor and oversight. While we may not be able to save the world, we are fortunate to be a contributor to EWB-COh and a part of the life-changing work being done in this small Guatemalan community.
March is Women’s History Month and a time to applaud the many contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society all around the world. DLZ is fortunate to have some very talented women in our firm and we salute all women, especially those in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Here are a few women that we find inspirational:
It is no secret that the STEM fields have been predominantly male occupations, with historically low participation among women. According to the Economics and Statistics Administration (part of the U.S. Department of Commerce), women hold only 24% of STEM jobs. Among STEM leaders the gender disparity is even greater. The Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (A/E/C) industry is historically (and even currently in some firms) known as an “old-boys club” workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2014, only 8.9% of people working in the construction industry are women.
DLZ is proud to a have a diverse leadership team, including six women leaders who serve as role models for the next generation of leaders. These women – Tanya Arsh, PE; Vicki Briggs, CPA; Laurie Johnson, PE; Cristine Klika, PE; Marcelyn Mathews, PE; and Vickie Wildeman, PE – serve as advocates to redress the disparity of women in both management and STEM fields in our society.
I reached out to these six ladies to learn about what led them to a career in STEM, who inspired them, what they feel is the key to their success, and if they had any advice for other women looking to follow in their footsteps. Here is summary of the responses that I received from each of these incredible women:
In addition to these six female STEM leaders, DLZ also has 13 women in other leadership roles, such as project managers, and directors of marketing. DLZ truly has shifted its once male-dominated leadership team and is changing the way that women are advancing internally. Our female leaders are mentors to other women in the firm, empowering them, and encouraging them to be the best that they can be.
March is Women’s History Month and we applaud women in STEM and we encourage you to not just empower other women, but to inform the youth of society that they can be just as successful as men in STEM roles.
Accurate data collection can greatly impact the success of a roadway project. For three decades, DLZ has contributed to the vast array of traffic data utilized by public agencies from the local to federal level in the planning and analysis of our transportation networks. While DLZ has stayed at the forefront by incorporating cutting edge technologies for collecting accurate vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian data safely and efficiently, we are constantly exploring new opportunities to provide our clients with more accurate and reliable data.
Historically, pneumatic road tubes have been utilized for 24-hour or longer roadway segment counts to collect volume and classification data. We’ve used count boards and field staff to manually collect classified turning movements at intersections and pedestrian and bicycle data. These methods are still used and are often the best alternative for a given situation. However, newer technologies have become available that improve accuracy and reliability of data collection while minimizing staff exposure to live traffic conditions during installation and removal of equipment. Magnetic lane counters like MHCorbin’s NC350 units collect length based classification in each lane of a roadway and can be secured in each lane quicker than road tube setups needed to collect comparable directional, classification data. NC350’s can also be a more reliable option in situations where tubes may become unsecured over the course of a count period. Video collection systems such as Miovision’s Scout Units can be used to collect turning movement counts, bike and pedestrian data at intersections and roadway segment counts as well. Video units are installed on the side of the road eliminating the need for technicians to enter or cross travel lanes as is needed for installing tubes or magnetic lane counters.
DLZ collects traffic data at 3,000 to 5,000 locations each year and it has become increasingly important to streamline the firm’s processes for scheduling field crews, documenting location and device information in the field and tracking progress in the office. To this end, DLZ has incorporated ESRI’s family of ArcGIS desktop, web and mobile applications into our traffic data collection workflow. Traffic Engineers in the office develop schedules for field crews marking locations to be collected in ArcGIS and synced with ArcGIS Online. DLZ field staff utilize ESRI’s Collector app on their iPads to see their scheduled locations and can use the Navigator app to find efficient travel times between locations. Field notes that are needed to identify the counter used and its placement are entered in Collector along with geocoded pictures of the installation. This information is synched with ArcGIS Online and used in preparing data reports without the need to transcribe handwritten paper notes in the office. Incorporating ArcGIS into a firm’s data collection processes greatly improves efficiency and reduces errors that might require recounting a location.
Safely collecting traffic data begins with the employees. DLZ’s field staff, many of whom have been with the company for 10 or more years, focus on safely installing and removing equipment within or on the side of roadways and are properly trained to do so. Having a fleet of conspicuous work trucks with flashing lights, advance warning signs and cones for use as needed are all important safety measures to consider. All DLZ field staff wear reflective clothing and are certified in setting up and conducting flagging operations. However, every effort is made to minimize the time spent at each location. Closing a traffic lane is rarely needed.
Transportation agencies depend on current, reliable traffic data in order to make important maintenance and capital improvement decisions for their roadways. Traffic data is also a key aspect of funding requests for federal and state transportation maintenance and improvement programs. Ultimately, the quality of the transportation system serving our communities depends on accurate traffic data collected safely and efficiently.
Business owners, supervisors, and managers all hope for and benefit from low turnover rates. Finding suitable and qualified replacements is not always easy. Once a new employee has been hired it can take months to be fully functional in their new role. This phase is the perfect time to not only assimilate new hires but to build a strong foundation for engaged employees through onboarding.
Onboarding is the process of orienting, assimilating, and engaging new employees. If done properly, onboarding has many benefits. Check out the infographic below for examples:
There is no one way to approach onboarding as organizations tend to create their own programs, however some methods that are commonly employed include:
Onboarding is the first opportunity to make a new employee feel like an important part of an organization. Providing opportunities for the new hire to make connections with those who have shared skills, roles, interests, and hobbies is key. Socialization leads to higher job satisfaction, better job performance, and organizational commitment. And let’s not forget that happy employees are more productive and less likely to jump ship.
With Veterans Day approaching, there is no better time to thank our nation’s 22 million veterans for their service. They are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, neighbors and coworkers. Veterans are woven into the fabric of our nation—and our organization.
Anyone who has heard our CEO, Vikram Rajadhyaksha, P.E., share the history of DLZ, knows well the vital role the military, specifically, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, played in the growth of our business. The dam safety studies awarded to DLZ in its early years provided much of the revenue that allowed the organization to grow into the multi-disciplinary, award-winning company we know today. Indeed, much of what DLZ has become is attributed to the early work provided by the Army Corps.
In addition to being a key client, the U.S. Military has provided DLZ with many outstanding employees over the course of the company’s history. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces leave service with invaluable skill sets that make them uniquely qualified for work in our business. Veterans share high levels of personal discipline, teamwork, leadership, and a strong work ethic that easily translates into success in the civilian world. While mandates like the Veterans’ Assistance Act requires federal contractors to take affirmative steps to employ veterans, DLZ understands the value in hiring highly trained veterans and reservists. DLZ employs veterans in numerous specialties, from engineers to admins, throughout the company.
As you look for ways to show your support for veterans this holiday, you may want to consider attending a Veterans Day event, donating to a support organization or simply spending time with a service member. Many DLZ employees are active throughout the year and engage the military and veterans’ communities in a variety of meaningful ways. Regardless of how you choose to convey your appreciation, please join us in thanking our service members, veterans and coworkers for their service and continuing support of the United States of America and this organization.
DLZ joins community leaders, businesses, and advocacy organizations participating in Imagine a Day Without Water, in an effort to educate the public about the water infrastructure crisis currently facing the United States. Organized by the Value of Water Coalition, hundreds of organizations across the country will partake in events today aimed at raising awareness about the crucial need for investment to ensure that no community in America is left without water and the infrastructure that brings it to and from homes and businesses.
In 2017, America’s Infrastructure grade is a D+. The cost of upgrading water infrastructure is entirely on the shoulder of local communities, regardless of their ability or willingness to fund improvements. As a result, we see that many communities are only reacting to the problem rather than proactively planning investment, leaving their residents to face the consequences of substandard water infrastructure. Everyone witnessed the recent tragedy in Flint, Michigan where thousands of residents were affected by tainted water. Flint is one example, but they are not the only community making national news about inadequacy of a local water system. Millions of people live in regions where infrastructure has been neglected and are left to deal with the consequences.
DLZ is working side by side with public entities and the communities to promote appropriate level of investments to our aging water infrastructure and find cost effective solutions that will sustain dependable and safe drinking water systems for future generations. Furthermore, many people in other countries do not have safe drinking water systems at all. DLZ supports efforts of Engineers Without Border, an organization that empowers communities to meet their basic human needs and equips leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges through engineering projects. Many of our employees participate in that work and we are immensely proud of them. Our employees ongoing efforts with Engineers Without Borders include building sanitary systems in El Salvador, improving drainage issues, and planning to provide a water system to a school in Guatemala.
We are also proud to:
- Support water education programs for communities we live and work in
- Assist communities with improving their water quality by designing treatment and collection systems that utilize new technology and design concepts
- Champion protection of ecosystems for future generations
There is no doubt about it – a day without water is a crisis. That is why we are joining with hundreds of groups across the country for Imagine a Day Without Water. No community can thrive without water and every person deserves a safe, reliable, accessible water system. Let’s demand better, and make sure no American ever has to imagine a day without water again.
DLZ has had the opportunity to assist fire departments throughout the Midwest with fire station renovation and new construction design. Fire stations are more than the firefighters’ place of work, the facilities are the firefighters’ home away from home. There are many aspects to firehouse design, however the topic of promoting firefighter health is at the forefront of today’s discussions.
DLZ ’s architects and engineers incorporate a variety of design components to reduce potential health risks within the station. Firehouse configurations and spatial adjacencies not only meet functional operational needs but also establish “hot zones” which are separated from firefighter living zones. Decontamination areas, gear washing and drying zones and gear storage areas are located immediately off the apparatus floor area to contain potential exposure to the living spaces.
Ventilation systems are selected with careful attention to fresh air and exhaust air levels. The following measures are put in place to reduce the potential air-borne contaminants: direct capture ventilation systems are utilized for the vehicle exhaust systems within the apparatus bays; properly ventilated gear lockers and storage areas; and positive building pressure within the living areas is established to reduce air infiltration from the “hot zones.”
One of the more recent amenities within firehouses are firefighter saunas. Studies have shown sweating is very effective in removing toxins from the body. As a result, the use of saunas has become more common within today’s firehouses. When utilized with low cardio activities, toxins, including heavy metals and lead, which may enter the blood stream during fire calls, are flushed and removed.
DLZ appreciates firefighters and the call to serve our communities. As a reminder, Fire Prevention Week is October 8-14, 2017. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” works to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it.
In support of Fire Prevention Week, DLZ encourages all households to develop a plan together and practice it. A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.