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Exterior of the Milwaukee Bucks Arena

Dec 9, 2020 | Blog

Putting Safety First at the Milwaukee Bucks Arena

MG McGrath Inc. recently completed the most visible, and stunning, elements of the new $524 million Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, fabricating and installing a total of 317,000 square feet of metal panels on the unique exterior of the new Milwaukee landmark.

The Maplewood, Minnesota company installed more than 9,000 VM Zinc panels with a custom patina and used champagne gold and pewter Centria metal panels to achieve a barrel look on the curved façade.

The Milwaukee Bucks Arena is the cornerstone of downtown Milwaukee’s new 30-acre sports and entertainment district, and serves as a striking addition to MG McGrath's portfolio of architecture projects. While each architectural work created by MG McGrath’s Architectural Surfaces division is unique, every one of them share a common approach—outstanding safety performance.

“To everyone in our company, there is nothing more important than sending our men and women home safely every single day,” said Michael P. McGrath, president of MG McGrath. “We don’t leave safety up to chance. We make it a choice—a choice we make to be safe every day—in our shop and on every jobsite.”

Safety measures on the Bucks arena project often involved accessing the roof every day to inspect swing stage scaffolding and rigging, or to move the swing stage equipment. MG McGrath safety staff had a fall protection plan and an IWP (industrial weatherproof pressure) specific for those tasks.

Temperatures in Wisconsin in winter made the outdoor work a high-risk activity. Even the smallest amount of snow or dew on the roof made it extremely slippery. A minimum of two employees were required to be together on the roof at all times. Based on the condition of the roof, there were different protocols that the employees had to follow along with several different fall rescue options. There were no recordable safety incidents during the entire six-month project schedule for MG McGrath.

MG McGrath's safety success earned the company the top Construction Health and Safety Excellence Award in 2017 from the Association of General Contractors of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. The award was especially notable given the complexity of the architectural design involved in this project.

“MG McGrath as a company faces many unique challenges because we strive to be different when it comes to design and finishes,” said Rachel Brorson, safety and quality engineer for MG McGrath. “Taking on challenging projects that have so many different aspects and design factors is a safety challenge unto itself."

During the project, MG McGrath employees showed how attention to safety can even be fun. Every day, before work started, they joined with other contractors at the jobsite for group stretching exercises together.

This story originally appeared in SMACNews.