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Cleaning up the World Trade Center.

Located in the heart of New York City's financial district, The World Trade Center (WTC) is considered one of the premiere office locations in the city, with a complex of six buildings and one hotel covering a two city block area. Well over 90,000 people work at or visit the complex daily. On a cloudy, blustery day this past February 26, an explosion ripped through the subgrade levels of the parking facility, rocking the Twin Towers. Several sections of the garage area were consumed by fire, and within minutes smoke billowed up through the structure, spreading soot fallout throughout the 220-floor office facility and its lobbies and concourse areas.

From the beginning, the explosion put the building's owner and operator, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, severely to the test. However, Nelson Chanfrau, general manager of risk management for the Port Authority, had a disaster recovery plan in place. Immediately after the explosion, the Port Authority's risk management department began to formulate an action plan that would successfully overcome the damages in a swift and cost-effective manner. For the risk management department, the critical need in the early stages of the situation was to expend every effort to minimize the displacement of tenants in the building; the immediate concern was that if tenants were unable to use their offices for a lengthy period of time, they would seek office space elsewhere in a city with an abundant supply of available space.

The Port Authority's disaster plan required evacuating the complex, contacting the proper authorities and setting up an emergency operations center (EOC), which, after being moved two times, was located at a vacant restaurant on the WTC's concourse. At this location, the Port Authority set up a Tenant Assistance Center, which addressed tenant's concerns.

The next step was to commence the cleanup operation. On the evening of the explosion, the Port Authority's risk management department called representatives of The Restoration Co. (TRC) onto the scene. Over the next several days, TRC assessed the building's smoke damage. The department then requested that TRC begin the initial phases of the cleanup operation.

After discussions with the risk management department, TRC identified several major issues that had to be addressed before the cleanup process could begin: coordinating the overall project; maintaining security throughout the cleanup operation; communicating with subcontractors; meeting healthy and safety standards; procuring supplies; maintaining communications between the various work crews; and establishing a Critical Path Management Program for completing the work in an efficient and timely manner. After these discussions, both parties realized that the cleanup task would be monumental TRC's goal: to clean 220 floors and 8.8 million square feet of space in approximately 21 days.

Initial Activities

Due to the magnitude of the task, TRC became convinced that it was critical to assemble a Project Coordination Staff to address every phase of the cleanup operation. With that in mind, all initial activities were centered on getting resources in place so that cleanup could begin. Within the first 24 hours, TRC mobilized the necessary critical management staff.

The first step of the plan was to assemble the Senior Project Coordinator team. TRC's northeast regional manager, a top-level project manager, and a corporate representative from Atlanta were assigned the task of overseeing the start-up efforts. This team created a sound chain of command and assigned specific responsibilities to a large number of TRC's departmental managers who were charged with specific responsibilities. The senior project coordinators also handled all the initial communications with the appropriate representatives of the Port Authority risk management staff and the WTC's operations staff.

Since business interruption insurance losses and the loss of tenant rents were initially calculated to be well in excess of $1 million per day, the risk management department and WTC operations made an unusual request: To minimize these losses, they asked that TRC conduct a detail cleaning of all the building's structural surfaces and a "cursory" cleaning of all tenant contents (which includes any furniture or objects that belong to tenants such as desks, computer equipment, files and papers) in an effort to return tenants to their offices as quickly as possible.

To provide these services, TRC forecasted that approximately three shifts of 900 laborers for each shift would be required over a 14-day period. Anticipating a swift resolution of contract issues, TRC's management team was assigned areas of responsibility and began to plan for the project. To outline and thoroughly explain the work required, TRC developed a complete work plan in the project's early stages. The plan outlined procedures to be followed for each area of the complex, and described each one in detail.

As expected from the magnitude of the project, the challenges facing TRC were of monumental proportions. For example, the thousands of dry sponges and gallons of cleaning solutions, cleaning cloths, HEPA vacuums, carpet and upholstery equipment, spray bottles, odor neutralants and other supplies that were needed had to be obtained quickly and in suitable quantities to prevent work stoppages due to lack of supplies. Through its affiliated company, Live-Air Chemical, TRC was able to obtain the necessary supplies so that work could begin immediately.

By purchasing these supplies directly from manufacturers, TRC was able to minimize additional costs incurred by ordering directly from distributors The manufacturers were required to mobilize dedicated production of certain supplies for the project, while putting production for their other customers on hold. Therefore, supplies began arriving almost immediately by the trailer-load.

For the Port risk management department, satisfying union requirements in the staffing of the project was a critical issue. This was especially important in eliminating any complications that might be caused by striking workers in a union-dominated city. The department determined that in order to staff a project of such enormous size, the three in-house union janitorial firms would be hired as sub-contractors to provide the 900 laborers per shift required to complete the work in 14 days. In addition, the requirement was established that all other work must be performed with union laborers who already worked for the WTC.

Interfacing with these various contractors and their union and legal representatives proved to be a sizable undertaking in its own right. Contracts with each subcontractor had to be negotiated, their schedules of chargeable rates determined and approved, and various liability issues addressed so that all interested parties, including individual tenants, would be legally protected prior to commencement of the work. Despite these challenges, TRC and the Port Authority's risk management department successfully negotiated with the necessary union groups, including the janitorial, electrical, window cleaners, riggers, marble/stainless steel cleaners and exterminator/pest control unions.

From the onset of negotiations, security and safety were primary concerns of the Port Authority's risk managers. Obviously, when 2,700 laborers are spread out over nearly 9,000,000 square foot of space and 220 floors, security and safety are critical issues that must be addressed before cleanup can begin. In order to provide for a secure work area, TRC worked with representatives of the New York City police department, Port Authority police and the complex's contracted security provider, City Wide Security, in order to establish strict check-in and check-out procedures. This involved establishing a comprehensive sign-in program, along with the issuance of special photo ID badges in order to readily identify and monitor the activities of the work force. Single points of access and egress were also established to control the inward and outward flow of workers. Work crews were then divided into groups of 30 and were supervised by two union supervisors and one TRC supervisor. Representatives of the WTC operations and security force provided fire-watch and floor security. Finally, each TRC supervisor was issued a two-way radio to communicate with other parties should emergency arise.

To ensure the health and safety of the cleanup crews, TRC submitted its standard Health and Safety Program and Hazard Communications to the Port Authority's risk management department for review during the initial stages of the gear-up operation. Due to the high visibility of this incident, federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration representatives actively monitored all of the ongoing work at the property. TRC's health and safety officer spent days working with the appropriate safety representatives of the Port Authority's risk management department and WTC operations to ensure that the cleanup would be conducted safely. Shift safety classes were regularly conducted to educate workers on how to safely complete their tasks. Also, TRC shift supervisors had to ensure that their crews were in compliance with safety regulations in order to prevent lost-time injuries. As a result of these safety measures, the project recorded no significant lost-time injuries during the entire course of the work.

As expected, accounting for the costs involved proved to be a difficult and intricate assignment. TRC brought in an accounting staff consisting of a senior field auditor and four assistants to keep abreast of the daily flow of paperwork required to establish the project's cost. Working with the insurance companies' consultants, TRC was able to establish a reasonable system for accurately tracking the cost for the management staff, labor, equipment and materials to be used in the project. In order to monitor the usage of materials and equipment, workers were checked in on a shift-by-shift basis and immediately verified, and a requisition system for obtaining supplies and equipment was developed. To ensure accuracy, the system verified inventories as they were received and each time a crew order was placed. Three-part carbonless forms were printed specifically to facilitate backup and verification of the amounts to be billed in every cost category.

Before the work began, it was obvious that without a sound communications program, it would be nearly impossible to complete the volume of work required in the allotted time. Voice-linked communications had to be established between the senior project coordinators and the supervisors of the various work crews. Hundreds of two-way radios were purchased, along with a high-powered repeater that was installed on the 54th floor of a hotel across the street. In the building, the radios were the only link between the members of TRC's supervisory staff. They were used to communicate everything from safety and security situations to the ordering of supplies.

The Cleanup Phase

All of these preparatory measures were developed and managed by the senior project coordinators and their staff. In addition, a Critical Path Management Program was established through a close working relationship with the Port Authority's risk management department. WTC operations and the Port Authority's management, engineering and analysis (ME&A) staff. TRC's senior management team developed and forecasted time and motion studies, which are used to predict how quickly each phase of a given project will take to be completed. After the time and motion predictions were reached, it was agreed in the early stages of the negotiations that two representative floors would be restored to near normal conditions in an effort to verify the study's predictions. Following analysis of the study, a graphed Critical Path Management Program was developed by the ME&A staff, outlining time schedules and priority zones for the work's completion. Over the 14-day period, eight days were allotted for cleaning Tower Two and six days for Tower One.

While labor was utilized over three eight-hour shifts per day, TRC's management and supervisory staff was divided into two 12-hour shifts in order to ensure continuity of the work over the multiple shifts and to minimize overtime. Thirty minutes prior to the management shift change and 30 minutes following shift change were allotted for internal communications regarding the flow of the work.

Since both the Port Authority's risk management department and WTC operations needed to know the project's status hour by hour, TRC selected various locations within the complex as project status centers. These centers contained chalkboards and posters that depicted the various areas in the building and how the work was progressing. For one supervisor on each shift, it was a full-time job just to update these project status centers. TRC also charted the work's progress by using various visual aids to graph the project's status and the location of all work crews.

Since the Port Authority's risk management department and WTC operations had preestablished priority zones where they wanted cleanup to take place first, the work was not completed in a top to bottom fashion. That being the case, TRC's management staff had to know the exact location of all work crews at all times so they could predict how long the work would take. Monitoring the crews required a thorough knowledge of the minute-to-minute status of the project.

Scope of Work

In order to minimize the loss of rent expenditures, the decision was made early on to conduct a detail cleaning of all structural surfaces including floors, walls, ceilings and light fixtures, as well as a cursory cleaning of tenant contents. The goal of the cursory cleaning was to allow tenants to return to their offices as quickly as possible without exposing them to the effects of the contamination. During initial inspections of both towers, a relatively uniform coating of soot fallout was discovered throughout the complex. Since a simple cleaning of all structural surfaces would not immediately render the affected office spaces usable, the decision was made to thoroughly clean all exposed surfaces.

Work commenced on March 10. Because of the widespread soot contamination and the immense size of the complex, the cleanup posed a number of challenges. For example, due to the natural bellows effect caused by the opening and closing of elevator doors, it was necessary to clean, deodorize and encapsulate the interior surfaces of the elevator shafts and the exterior surfaces of the elevator cars. All affected stairway surfaces, such as floors, steps, landings, railings, singage and related surfaces, were hand-cleaned and deodorized, utilizing the appropriate cleaning methods and cleaning solutions. Areas such as bathrooms, janitor closets, electrical rooms and telecommunications rooms were thoroughly hand-cleaned and deodorized. The work crews accomplished the deodorization by removing all odor sources such as burnt paper and boxes.

In areas where residual odors remained after the cleaning, deodorization was accomplished through the use of special concentrated cleaning agents. Hard surface furniture and other articles, were hand-cleaned with either dry sponges or muslin cloths. With the exception of fabric partitions, which were dry-sponge cleaned, upholstered furniture was either vacuumed or steam- or dry-cleaned. Other objects, such as decorative accessories, desktop accessories and wall hangings, were cleaned using dry sponges or muslin cloths. Finally, all technical equipment such as computers and copier machines, was cleaned, exterior only, with either damp cloth or muslin cloth. After the work had progressed smoothly over the first few days, TRC put a comprehensive Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance program into effect. As soon as a floor was completed and checked by TRC's QC staff, representatives of the Port Authority risk management department and WTC operations conducted a joint inspection of the completed floors. A checklist was developed for determining when a floor had been adequately cleaned. For areas that required further attention, TRC established a roving work crew to complete cleaning. These areas were then re-checked until they passed a final acceptance.

In 16 days - two days were virtually lost due to the Blizzard of '93, which paralyzed the city - TRC utilized 384 hours to clean over 8.8 million square feet of building structure and contents. This means that overall TRC achieved a completion rate of some 22,000 square feet per hour, the equivalent of 12 2,000 square foot homes.

By all accounts, the restoration of the property was successful. New York Governor Mario Cuomo, returning to his offices on the 57th floor of Tower Two, was quoted by the New York Times as saying, "This is really amazing! I did not dream that you could get it this clean, this quickly!" Initially skeptical of the forecasted time frames for completion of the project, the Port Authority's executive committee and media staff had predicted a mid- to late April opening of the Towers. However, Tower Two opened on March 19, while Tower One opened March 26.

What had been viewed as an impossible task by representatives of the Port Authority, WTC operations, various insurance carriers and other companies in the cleaning industry, was achieved through comprehensive management and swift response to the many situational problems that can occur in a project of this magnitude. Completion of the project was greatly facilitated by the Port Authority's risk management department's disaster plan. Besides accomplishing the job within a limited time frame, TRC also managed to complete the work at a rate several million dollars lower than the original cost projections. The key to the project's success was a clear understanding of the work required and a management team that was committed to seeing the project through to completion.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Risk Management Society Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Boss, Bill
Publication:Risk Management
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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