- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - The lead contractor on a large downtown Fort Wayne development and the Indiana Department of Labor have agreed to collaborate on workplace safety during construction, officials said Monday.

Labor Department staff will conduct safety training for Weigand Construction Co. at the site of the Ash Skyline Plaza every month while the contractor will use the best safety practices.

“It’s an agreement to take all the best practices from across the country to use them proactively,” Larry Weigand, CEO of Fort Wayne-based Weigand Construction Co. Inc., told The Journal Gazette. “It’s a commitment to always improve.”

The $98 million Ash Skyline Plaza will house the nine-story corporate headquarters of Ash Brokerage and a 1,200-space parking garage.

The project must maintain a worker injury and illness rate lower than Indiana’s industry average. Weigand must also provide protection for employees working 6 feet or higher above ground level.

“Falls are a leading cause of serious injury and death in construction. These incidents can be eliminated when trained workers use the appropriate safety equipment,” Indiana Labor Commissioner Rick Ruble said in a news release.

“Working together will best ensure workers return home safely, and that is our top priority,” Ruble said.

The partnership agreement will remain in effect until construction is complete in 2016.

Mayor Tom Henry and Tim Ash, president and CEO of Ash Brokerage, also signed the agreement.

A developer for a 17-story residential tower included in the project backed out Friday. City attorney Tim Haffner says officials hope to select another developer by the end of this year.

The city is contributing $39 million toward the project, paying for the parking garage, land acquisition and site improvements.

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