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Heroes in High Visibility

The National Safety Council defines a near miss as an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage, but had the potential to do so. It is a fortunate break in a chain of events that prevents an injury, fatality, or damage; in other words, a narrow escape from danger or disaster.

This year, several Manson employees embodied that “fortunate break in the chain of events.” The actions of these individuals prevented severe injury or equipment damage. Here we take the opportunity to give recognition to those whose interventions help maintain a safe working environment. We focus not only on what could have happened but what drew these individuals to take action.

Welder Isais Benitez working at the BIMT Wharf Rehabilitation project in Jacksonville, FL. Photo credit: Douglas Boehm—Master Learning Facilitator


Jacksonville, Florida, experienced its highest recorded temperature of 105°F this past July and averaged a high of 90°F throughout June, July, and August.

The crews at the Blount Island Martine Terminal (BIMT) Wharf Rehabilitation – Phase 2 project perform rigorous tasks in this hot environment such as pile driving, concrete pours, and demolition work all while wearing life jackets, work vests, hard hats, work boots, and other heavy protective clothing.

The project team implemented measures to protect workers from heat illness such as providing several 10x10 ft. pop-up tents for shade, water, sports drinks, 36-in. portable barrel fans, an evaporative cooler, a portable AC unit, and frequent training sessions on working in hot weather.

On August 28, 2020, while on the jobsite, Manson Welder Isaias Benitez observed possible symptoms of heat illness in a third party iron worker and immediately took action. Isaias has worked for Manson since early 2019, primarily as a welder on the project, but he has also worked with both land and water pile driving operations, fixing rebar issues, installing trench drains, and placing concrete.

Isaias noticed the iron worker sitting under one of the shade huts about 50 ft. away, and that he appeared to be ill. Isaias described what he encountered: “I knew that there was something wrong. I went to go check on him and when I approached him he was quite pale and pasty looking. I tried to talk to him but I could barely understand him as his speech was very slurred. I tried to offer him a liquid IV but he did not accept it. He continued to dry heave and I told him we needed to go to the trailer and see the Site Safety Health Officer (SSHO). I helped him to his feet and escorted him to the trailer where he could sit in the air conditioning.” After some rest, the iron worker made a full recovery within a couple of days.

Isaias credits his awareness about heat illness with the many times that it was discussed on the project. He himself has also experienced symptoms similar to those of the iron worker. “I feel that between all of the times that the topic is discussed onsite and in safety meetings and having also experienced similar symptoms previously, that I have become more aware of the conditions to look for in regards to how well how that person is feeling. I also understand what needs to happen to help aid recovery from those feelings and condition.”

Heat stroke is the most severe of all heat-related injuries including heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sun burn, and heat rash. The body can reach a temperature of 103°F or higher and it is considered a medical emergency.

Isaias’s timely intervention potentially prevented the most deadly of heat related illnesses.

Foreman Jason Prohaska enjoying the sunny day and fresh air at the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal project in Seatle, WA. Photo credit: Erik Dolmseth—Superintendent


Those who work in the Pacific Northwest are fortunate in that destructive weather events like hurricanes and tornados are extremely rare. However, it does not take a particularly strong gust or sustained wind to create a potential for damage or injury.

Jason Prohaska has worked for Manson since 2012 as a foreman. Among the eight projects he has worked on are two seawalls in western Washington, a cruise ship berth in Alaska, and wharf rehabilitation in Florida. His current project is the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal where his experience proved to be valuable on a windy day.

On September 2, 2020, the HARRY M prepared to move Derrick Barge 24 into position to connect a dolphin anchor chain. Jason was prompted to take action when he noticed that the weather had picked up with a sustained wind of 20 mph out of the north and that it would be very difficult to move the DB24 with the 2000 horsepower tug HARRY M in this condition. The worst case scenario for this incident was the potential for the DB24 to slide into the new ferry dolphin and damage it.

As the foreman, he met with the HARRY M captain and the project superintendent following an all stop of operations. It was decided to discontinue operations for the day. The project crew returned and completed the dolphin anchor chain connection the following morning.

There is always a temptation to push the limits of the equipment in challenging elements to get a job done. The dolphin is built to take a beating and damage was unlikely. However, Jason and the rest of the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal project team were wise to not take this risk and exercised good judgement on this windy afternoon.

The bullgang crew, including Marcos Lozano, of the RM WHITE. Left to Right: Yery Robledo - Deckhand, Scott Moran - Boatman, Marcos Lozano – Deck Captain, Blake Chouest – Superintendent , Terry Roberts – Crane Operator, Chris Wrightson - Boatman, Damien Dawson - Deckhand, Guadalupe Cesar Silva – Deck Captain, Ezzard “Bo” Arrington - Deckhand, Brian Buehler – Deck Captain, James Robinson – Crane Operator, Robert Ricardy – Welder Photo credit: Zach Chester—Gulf & East Coast Dredging, Operations Manager.


On August 27, 2020, the Deck Captain of the ROBERT M WHITE, Marcos Lozano, was in the midst of performing a routine inspection of a newly arrived aerial lift at the project yard in Mobile, Alabama, when he noticed that the switch to control the lift from the ground was broken. The aerial lift can only be moved and lowered by an occupant in the lift’s basket.

The primary hazard for a fall from an aerial lift is ejection from the basket due to the lift’s jerky movements. This potential for ejection is why an occupant is required to wear a personal fall arrest system while using the lift, even with railing on all four sides of the basket.

Without the ability to control the lift from the ground, if a lone occupant in basket were to fall, there would be no means to lower the lift and rescue them. Some models of aerial lifts can go as high as 185 ft. An individual hanging in a harness is at risk of suspension trauma where the leg straps impede blood return which can cause the blood to become toxic. Suspension trauma can ultimately lead to a blocked airway, cardiac arrest, brain damage, and death.

Marcos reported the broken controls to the rental agency and a technician returned to the site and repaired the switch.

The difference between a near miss and an incident in these events was a single act by one person. Thank you Isaias, Jason, and Marcos for demonstrating why people are Manson’s most valuable asset.

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