By: Kyle Niblett

Designed to benefit students at the M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management and reduce the 150,000 annual injuries on construction job sites, the brand-new Safety Yard at the University of Florida TREEO Center officially opened this past Friday, April 1. Collaborating with the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning were the Kiewit Corporation, Santa Fe College, Charles Perry Partners, Inc. and the UF Office of Professional and Workforce Development.

“This facility is a life saver because of what the new generation of people entering the construction industry will learn here,” DCP Dean Chimay Anumba said. “Our students will strongly benefit from this facility, and lives will be saved because of it.”

Students from UF and Santa Fe, as well as industry professionals, will be able to get on-the-job training via a living, learning lab. With hands-on experience, the facility will simulate real-time situations when it comes to power tools, personal protective equipment, and safety.

“Our Industry Advisory Board members saw safety yards at other institutions that we compete with every day in recruiting construction management students, so they challenged us to come up with a safety yard,” Rinker School Director Robert F. Cox said. “This partnership provides us with a greater opportunity to impact the community as well as the profession. It is a testament to the Gainesville community.”

Monitoring devices will be available to track behaviors and predict when and where workers are being put at risk. As students use the site to learn about safety hazards, the Safety Yard is expected to save millions of dollars in prevented accidents. Kiewit provided the Connex boxes and materials, while the funding for the $150,000 construction costs came from alumni events and IAB contributions.

“We believe every person on your job can go to work every day without getting injured,” said 1992 Rinker graduate Nick Salce, who is currently the Design Build Pursuit Manager at Kiewit. “You cannot have a safe job site without training constantly. I am happy that University of Florida, Santa Fe College students and the industry as a whole have the opportunity to learn here at the UF TREEO Center.”

Rinker students can expect to begin using the Safety Yard this fall as part of their curriculum.

CBS Channel 4: UF and Santa Fe celebrate the completion of their new safety yard

WCJB TV 20: UF TREEO holds ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its new safety yard

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