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Construction Site Success Stories from Utilizing Photos

By: By Gary Kennedy, P. Eng., PMP (2023-11-21)

Construction Site Success Stories. The miraculous help of Photography in the field. Similar success tales are welcome in the comments!

As many folks know, I've gathered a healthy trainload of photos from my construction sites since the early 1990's. With friendly stakeholder permissions, I continue to use those photos. I've had great construction mentors since I graduated Civil Engineering in 1990. One of the many significant "lessons learned" from these experienced construction masters was:

"Always use a camera on site on a routine basis. You DO NOT have to wait to use a camera when there's a dispute or crisis going on. You should get photos that might be routine snaps today that might be VERY valuable some day in the future."

Here are a few examples of the HUGE benefits:

(A) Materials Identification Example:

After I finished a highway construction project in a previous year, I was able to help my previous supervisor reconcile excavation quantities with a subcontractor. I had "routine" photos archived that clarified whether rock, sand, or swamp had been excavated between a few certain locations. It saved a lot of money and resources instead of sending equipment back to a remote site for ground verification. Everyone wins.

(B) Location Identification Example:

On large jobs, like highway construction, the authorities and general pubic are always watching (which I WELCOME) for environmental and safety concerns. As I've been mentored, I snapped routine photos of the silt fences and other erosion protection around the sites. If members of the traveling public expressed any concerns about silt in the water or erosion protection levels, we were able to use the photos to quickly "help" address the concerns. Sometimes, LOL, the good people raising the concerns were naming the wrong bridges or streams that were miles away from construction. It would still a valid public concern, but at least the photos could help us narrow down where it was (or wasn't).

(C) Critical Enforcement Example:

A few decades ago I was working on a large highway construction project in a mostly rural area. The project included roads, bridges, culverts, relocation of intersected utilities, and other features. As commonly happens, I had an engineering student riding in the truck with me for the Summer term. While driving slowly over the new road subgrade to look for cleanup items (nothing yet open to the public) we noticed a bulldozer in the distance heading towards the buffer zone of a healthy stream. The student commented that it looked like the dozer intended to cross the stream, which would be a MAJOR offense by our subcontractor. I hopped out of the truck and started yelling towards the equipment operator, but it "seemed" that he could not hear me from the dozer noise. So I grabbed the camera out of the truck and made it VERY obvious that I was taking pictures of the bulldozer. Magically, LOL, the bulldozer turned 90 degrees away from the stream and continued working from higher ground. The student said "The camera idea worked just great! I thought that camera ran out of film a few hours ago!" I replied back to him, "It certainly did! But we turned that dozer around anyway!" We had a good laugh!

Please contact Gary Kennedy if you wish to submit similar success stories from using photos. You can also add them in the comments under the LinkedIn post of this article.

Thanks! gk

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