The Business of Building Through COVID-19 & Beyond

The construction industry began 2020 strong and optimistic for the future. But thanks to COVID-19, builders faced tough restrictions the during prime spring and summer months. Now, the construction industry's future is left unclear as many states are reverting back to stay at home orders from their state officials. Construction has always been one of America’s biggest industries and officials are confident that with some updated safety measures, contractors will be able to adapt and continue operations to move the industry forward.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected construction companies in many different ways. In order for a company to thrive during these times, developing a strategy is necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of your partners’, customers', and employees' needs. While re-opening for business, these key people may feel wary and unsure about sharing space with others regardless of safety protocols. As of this writing COVID-19 has no vaccine or cure. Construction business owners must remain strong by finding reliable COVID-19 resources, prioritizing employee health, and re-opening worksites and offices with the “new normal” standards.

Having reliable information on hand is crucial when determining a strategy for your business’s reopening. Focus on getting your COVID-19 information from reputable and reliable resources. Start by visiting websites of construction industry organizations and leaders to check for specific industry guidelines. The best place to find accurate and updated COVID-19 information the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which has created specific pages dedicated to businesses that are looking to reopen. State government websites will also provide relevant information regarding business reopening during the outbreak.

The health and safety of employees is crucial to re-opening businesses. Some workers who are working remotely will need to continue their work-from-home arrangement if there is not enough workspace in the office. For construction site workers, be creative in ensuring that fewer people are on the worksite and social distancing is used. Introduce break time schedules to keep fewer workers in shared spaces like break rooms and cafeterias or stagger shifts to minimize the number of people on-site at any given time. It is important to communicate with employees to ensure everyone is working safely and limiting risks brought by COVID-19. Make sure to listen to clients' and employees’ concerns, answer questions, and incorporate their feedback into your overall strategy.

Guidelines from the CDC require at least six feet of space between employees whenever possible. Before reopening the construction site, you need to optimize the site layout prioritizing the entrances and exits, the flow of traffic, and gathering sites. Work to minimize the formation of long queues and the buildup of people.

Construction technology can make work more efficient and lessen the time needed to finish work. For example, the use of drones will allow inspection activities to continue even without being on the site. Accounting and other office tasks can be done from home using software. There are also several platforms for virtual meetings instead of the classic in-person meetings while still sharing plans, models, and data.

Reopening a construction business in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be easy. However, the limitations and challenges brought by the pandemic may be the catalyst needed for the industry to adopt new tools, guides, and procedures that are long overdue and move forward to a brighter, sturdier future.


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What is OSHA and Why is it Necessary?

Every workplace has its own set of safety issues and the construction industry is definitely no exception. Each year nearly 6,000 workplace fatalities are reported nationally and 50,000 deaths occur from workplace-related illnesses.  OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration and was created within the Department of Labor. OSHA is responsible for worker safety and health protection.

The information below is an actual snippet from the Builders License Training Institute's  Construction Safety Standards Course.

Is there a need for OSHA?

Each year there are:

  • Nearly 6,000 workplace fatalities nationally
  • 50,000 deaths from workplace-related illnesses
  • 7 million non-fatal workplace injuries
  • Injuries alone cost US businesses over $125 billion

Since 1970 OSHA has:

  • Helped cut the work-related fatality rate in half
  • Worked with employers and employees to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses by 40%
  • Virtually eliminated brown lung disease in the textile industry, and
  • Reduced trenching and excavation fatalities by 35%

What does OSHA do?

  • Encourages employers and employees to implement new, or improve existing safety and health programs by providing assistance, training and other support programs
  • Develops mandatory job safety and health standards
  • Enforces mandatory job safety and health standards
  • Maintains a reporting and record keeping system to monitor job-related injuries and illnesses

Who is covered by OSHA?

  • Most private sector employees
  • Does not cover the self-employed or immediate members of farm families that do not employ outside workers

OSHA develops and enforces standards that employers must follow.  Where OSHA does not have standards, employers are responsible for following the OSHA's General Duty Clause. Employers must furnish a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.

SUMMARY

  • OSHA helps save lives and prevent injuries.
  • OSHA balances a cooperative approach with traditional enforcement.
  • OSHA standards are the enforceable requirements for worker safety and health.
  • Inspections are OSHA's way to ensure compliance.
  • OSHA offers various means of assistance.

Builders License Exam Prep & State Approved Continuing Education

Cold Weather Safety Tips For Minnesota Contractors

Contractors are generally considered a rough and rowdy bunch, ready to take on challenges and weather conditions that most professions wouldn’t even consider.  Minnesota Contractors are no exception.  They’re used to long cold winters with gray cloudy days and below-freezing temperatures.

If you’re going to stay in business in the “Great White North” you’re going to need to weather the elements from time to time. Here are a few tips to help you and your crew stay safe and warm on the job site.

  • Keep track of weather forecasts and adjust your schedule and location accordingly.
    It’s just common sense to have your guys working indoors during an ice storm instead of the roof.
  • Make sure your workers are wearing the proper protective clothing and equipment.
    You should require everyone to wear the right clothing, heavy socks, insulated boots and shoes with non-slip soles, gloves, hats, heavy jackets etc. to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. Companies such as The Warming Store, Milwaukee and DeWalt offer winter gear with heating elements built right into the garment.
  • Provide a warm break area with proper heating and ventilation.
    Encourage your crew to fill their thermos with plenty of hot water. Drinking hot/warm water will help to maintain body temperature.
  • Educate supervisors and crew members on the signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite.
    They should all be able to spot signs and symptoms of Hypothermia and Frostbite and know when to seek medical attention for themselves and/or crew members.

Following these simple suggestions and more will ensure that you and your crew will be warm and safe during Minnesota’s harshest winter work days. Of course, on really bad days, you and your crew can stay on top your licensing requirements by getting and/or maintaining your Minnesota Building Contractor License.

Currently licensed Building Contractors are required to complete 14 hours of continuing education every two years by the anniversary of licensure.  The Builders License Training Institute will help you meet those requirements with your choice of 3 Complete 14-hour Renewal Packages.  Save money with a package or choose any combination of continuing education courses to meet your state license renewal requirements. They’re all online anytime 24/7, fast, easy and convenient!  They even offer Code Official CE.

Online courses are available at the Builders License Training Institute. They offer exam prep courses for anyone wanting their Builders and Re-modelers or Roofers License.   There’s even a money-saving Builders and Remodelers License Exam Course & Book Package! Get started today!

Minnesota Contractor Exam Prep & State Approved Continuing Education

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