MCOHS Students Visit JE Dunn Abbott Northwestern Hospital Central Utility Plant Jobsite - Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety Education and Research Center

MCOHS Students Visit JE Dunn Abbott Northwestern Hospital Central Utility Plant Jobsite

JE Dunn Site VisitJE Dunn Construction and University of Minnesota, Duluth MEHS program alum Nick Marcella, CHST (JE Dunn Safety Manager), along with multiple members of site management, hosted MCOHS students at the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Central Utility Plant jobsite.

Students went on a technical tour and were treated to a lunch and concrete basics presentation on concrete work and safety. The site was a complex project that involved demolition of an existing utility plant and construction of a new plant in a small footprint. All of the construction work is happening while the hospital operations and the activities of the general public continue around the site in a busy Minneapolis neighborhood. Multiple stages of the project have been completed, such as demolition, excavation, footings and concrete work, structural steel, and interior work such as drywall and electrical.

Different hazards arise with each stage in the dynamic working environment; no day or hour is the same. JE Dunn safety representatives and project supervisors and foreman work closely to identify and proactively correct hazards and account for the numerous tradespeople and subcontractors working on-site simultaneously.

Reflecting on the site visit experience, Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) resident Dominic Dabrowski stated:
Seeing an active construction site gives a different perspective on how potential occupational medical problems can develop in real time. It’s beneficial for me as a clinician to be able to visualize this.<span class="su-quote-cite">Dominik Dabrowski</span>

JE Dunn is an experienced contractor with the ability to manage such complex jobsites. They do work across the Unites States and can often be found as the general contractor on the University of Minnesota campus for major projects. In addition to worker safety on the Abbott project, they had to consider many aspects of patient and public safety during work. Active surgical bays and the oncology and nuclear medicine wing were directly adjacent to the construction area. Crews took special care to reduce vibrations, emissions, noise, and followed a strict schedule to ensure the hospital operations were not disrupted. Massive utility lines that supplied power and energy to both Abbott and Children’s hospital were carefully excavated around and protected during all stages of the project. Traffic reroutes, pedestrian walking paths, and a tightly coordinated delivery schedule for the site also had to be followed in the bustling neighborhood and medical district where Abbott Hospital is located.

University of Minnesota, Duluth MEHS student and OS trainee Alec Johnson said:
It was really impressive that they were able to take time out of their day and have good management representation for a student tour. Coming from a different type of construction industry, I thought it was interesting to see how the commercial side of construction safety works. Working within the tight city block space the four walls of the new facility was very different than the wide open space of dirt work and heavy highway work I am used to. It gave JE Dunn more control over how they can mitigate certain hazards, but it also introduced new and very complex hazards I hadn’t dealt with in my experience (e.g. indoor air monitoring for CO, sharing a wall with an operating hospital). They made the most of their time by doing a “concrete basics” presentation during lunch.<span class="su-quote-cite">Alec Johnson</span>

MEHS student/Occupational Safety (OS) trainees Haleigh Reindl and Kole Zuidmulder will also join the JE Dunn team as employees! Haleigh will start a full-time role as a Safety Specialist at a project in Omaha in June. Kole will complete a safety internship this summer in Minneapolis supporting a project of a new 16-story student housing building with a 3-story parking garage on the University of Minnesota Campus.


Thank you JE Dunn Construction, Nick Marcella, and Occupational Safety (OS) Program Director Katie Schofield for arranging this site visit for our students!