Prominent civil engineer Carvel Stewart is crediting the Chinese contractors on the island with the use of safety mesh around major construction sites, which he said is not new, but was not being used by local builders in the past.
The mesh, which is mostly green in colour, can be seen on several major construction sites while the construction process is under way, and forms somewhat of a barrier that surrounds the major building that is being built.
“The mesh is just a protective safety measure. It mainly has to do with things falling from height, that they don’t run off the place, or even if a man was to fall and he may, in fact, benefit from it, that is if he drops on it, it might slow down the speed of the fall.
“It’s not a novelty at all, just that we didn’t use it in the past, but it is now quite common and the truth is, it really was brought in by the Chinese influx of contractors, and again it’s a safety screen more than anything else,” said Stewart in an interview.
According to him, the local construction industry has remained consistent with traditional methods of operating with tower cranes being used for the major projects that involve multi-story construction. He said both the tower cranes and the existing methodologies were being employed in Jamaica for decades.
The cranes are used to lift concrete that is formed up and cast, while for the smaller buildings, Stewart said the traditional block and steel method of construction is utilised.
However, Stewart said on these construction sites, some of the implements that are used are now being operated differently, and cites the example of hand-held tools, which technology now enables to be used with a battery, instead of electricity from a plug-in outlet.
He said the battery-operated tools are easier to handle while being just as powerful as with the use of the cumbersome wires for the ones that require electricity from an outlet.
“I haven’t seen anything that is really new,” said Stewart of any perceived ‘changing dynamics’ technologically across the local construction sector.